Olutoyin Olowookere shares details on her experience as a new university graduate, future plans and advice.
By Jamila Jacob- Senior Editor, The Lincolnian
“Yes, I definitely feel that transitional challenges are inevitable. It’s a part of the process.”
“take this year to NETWORK at every opportunity you get, you never know who will be able to help you in the future.”
Lincoln alumna Class of ’17 and former SGA president (2016-2017) Olutoyin “Toy” Olowookere graduated from LU with a B.A. in Management with remarkable academic standing, having served on the Student Government Association (SGA) board for four years, with sound experience in assuming leadership roles. As a young woman with a good head on her shoulders, Olowookere was able to navigate her academic career with much success and was able to prepare for her post-graduate life. However, notwithstanding her pro-active and mature persona, she shares that a few transitional changes into the “real world” have proven to be unavoidable.
Olowookere tells all in a Q&A below.
- What was your initial feeling immediately after graduation?
“My initial feeling after graduation was a mix of anxiousness and excitement. Excitement because it was the end, all the late nights stressing was all worth it for this moment. The feeling of finally becoming a graduate of the first HBCU was undeniable; I was on an all-time high. The anxiousness came from my thoughts about post-grad life. For the past four years I’ve given all of my time and energy to Lincoln University and I was anxious about who I would be after Lincoln. Anxious about how I would achieve my goals without the comfort of having the university and all the resources it comes with.”
2. Describe living on you own.
“Okay, so let’s talk about RENT. THAT THING IS REAL! Living on my own is quite the experience. I actually share a two-bedroom loft with a recent Lincoln Graduate. Being away from home and having the responsibility of taking care of your own space is definitely a challenge that I may not have been fully prepared for. In college you were only responsible for putting food in your fridge that you liked, toiletries and certain bills. Now you’re responsible for the fridge itself and you don’t have the comfort of the café to run to if you don’t have food. You are responsible for toiletries, cleaning supplies, electric bills, phone bills, car payments, and whatever other bills your incur. Yet, it (living on your own) gives you the opportunity to grow up and take full responsibility of your life. You officially have full control of what you do, what type of energy you allow into your space, what you eat, and the choices you make which affect your whole life. So you may have to skip that turn up or ignore that cute outfit to make sure you can pay your rent and afford your lifestyle. But it’s worth it, because everything you’re doing now will only make you better.”
3. Do you feel like you underestimated how challenging “adulting” would be?
“I definitely underestimated “adulting”. The funny thing is we think that we are adults once we enter college. Eighteen year olds feeling like they know everything and then learning at twenty-one that they really didn’t know anything. I feel like it’s important for colleges to educate expectant graduates on the art of “adulting”. We learn how to be great in our careers, how to be leaders, but we don’t do enough real life classes. Such as how to handle your taxes, how to apartment shop, how to save on utilities, what cable company to use, how do effective grocery shopping, the things that you can’t learn in the classroom. Life 101 should be in every senior curriculum.”
4. What did you do to prepare for life after Lincoln before graduation?
“Honestly, I didn’t really start truly preparing for my life after Lincoln until the beginning of my junior year. I was involved in SGA for the majority of my time at Lincoln, and junior year I had to make sure that I was prepared for my life after Lincoln. I joined Inroads (a program that places minorities in fortune 500 companies) and got serious about my future career. I was able to secure an internship with JP Morgan Chase my summer before the senior year and received my full time offer before senior year even started. With that piece of my life handled I was able to focus more on my presidency and then by the spring semester of my senior year , I started apartment shopping and made sure I had signed my lease early to allow enough time for me to transition before school and work started. Last but definitely not least, I did a lot of praying and trusting God. The time periods before and after graduation require a lot of guidance. Luckily I had my parents and my mentors to support me, but strengthening my relationship with God really allowed me to feel confident in the choices that I was making.”
5. Do you believe that transitional challenges from undergrad to post-grad life are inevitable?
“Yes, I definitely feel that transitional challenges are inevitable. It’s a part of the process. Many times we try to avoid the process and look for ways around them instead of taking them head on. These challenges help to make us stronger, they help prepare us for life. A challenge that you skip out on now might end up coming up in the future when you least expect it. It’s important to take the opportunity to learn and grow. Uncomfortable times bring great progress.”
6. Do you believe there are any elements from your leadership experience at Lincoln that you can apply to your post-undergrad life now?
“Definitely, my leadership experience taught me how to navigate a professional environment, how to persevere despite any adversities, and most importantly how to network. I advise every student to not just join an organization, but try to become a board member. Having responsibility for something other than yourself will provide you with the push you need to be proactive in your own life.”
7. You mentioned in your Instagram post that you would be pursuing an MBA. Do you wish to share any minor details?
“I will be pursing my MBA part time with a concentration in Marketing at Wilmington University. My goal is to finish by December 2018 by God’s grace.”
8. Do you think spirituality (not necessarily religion) is important during academic and/or professional pursuits?
“Honestly, I really don’t make many decisions without praying about it. I grew in a traditional Christian family with two parents that are pastors. It took me a while to separate the religion from the relationship. A lot of people claim to be Christians but only truly have the religious side of it. You have to actually seek God to understand the relationship side. Before every campaign, every interview, any application, and major exams I always prayed for guidance and support. I believe God is the center of my life and he’s been my key to success.”
9. What is your personal goal for the next 2-3 years?
“Glowing and Growing!!! Those are honestly my personal goals, to keep advancing (myself) in the best way I can spiritually, financially, physically, the list goes on and on.”
- Do you have any advice for the class of 2018?
“My greatest advice would be to not rush your senior year. My senior year honestly was the most fun I have had at Lincoln. I spent a lot of time with my friends and got to experience some things that I was afraid to when I wasn’t a senior. But, as much as I want you to enjoy your senior year, please please please please handle business first. Spend your first semester securing your future if you haven’t done so already. How you FINISH the race is more important than how you started or what happened in between. Make sure that you stay on point of your grades and that you have reached all the requirements for your program. Last but not least take this year to NETWORK at every opportunity you get, you never know who will be able to help you in the future.”