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Everything You Need to Know About Life After Smith

It’s a tall order, but a book given to all Smith College graduates this month as they prepare for the “real world” carries the confident title life after school. explained: a definitive reference guide.

The book, an annual gift to graduates from the Alumnae Association of Smith College (AASC), is arranged in chapters -- familiarly called seminars -- on topics pertaining to restaurant etiquette (presumably superfluous for Smith graduates), managing finances, finding a place to live, the professional work place, taxes and miscellany.

A few samples of advice from life after school:

From Seminar 2, "Love Your Money"

-The Rule of Money: When you use someone else's money, you have to pay for it.

-CDs usually pay more than savings accounts.

-Credit problems stay on your record for seven years.

From Seminar 3, “Getting Your Aparmtent”

-In newspaper ads, “cozy” is another word for “no room for a bed.”

-It might be best to keep looking if you hear, “I don't mind the bugs - they usually keep to themselves.”

From Seminar 4, “Day 1 at Work”

-When purchasing business suits, buy wool. Wool suits last longer, breathe better, and wrinkle less than any other type of suit.

-Remember the hanger rule: Buy your entire outfit off one hanger.

-Always overdress for the first day of work.

Life after school is written and produced by Cap & Compass, a company in Mobile, Ala., that offers seminars, books and “starter kits” to schools and corporations to assist people with transitions to life after college. The company customizes its books with the logos and introductory notes from each customer.

“We saw this a few years ago and thought it was a great little book with a lot of useful information, and are thrilled to give it to seniors,” says Samantha Pleasant, senior associate director of the AASC. “Feedback from seniors has been extremely positive. It seems we’ve started a new Smith tradition.”

This is the third year Smith seniors have received life after school.

Among the most immediately helpful tidbits in the book may be Seminar 1, “Avoid Looking Stupid at Dinner,” an overview of what to do, what not to do and how to act during business dinners. Topics covered include proper handshake techniques (not too limp, not too tight, and always with eye contact), appropriate conversation items (brush up on sports, current events and popular culture), what to do with which silverware, how to order and drink wine, and how to decode confusing menus.

Also, budding graduates might check out “Getting Your Apartment,” a useful overview on roommates, responding to advertisements, things to look for in a residence, and advice on signing a lease.

“I think it is really a great resource,” says Stefanie Renaud ’06, who will soon move to Boston to work at Massachusetts General Hospital, of the book. “It includes all sorts of things you need but never get taught, like the fork setup at a restaurant or what the words in personal ads mean.”

Much of the information in life after school may be helpful to graduates over the long term. The chapter “Love Your Money” might provide useful reference shortly down the road when it’s time to save, invest, incur credit, and strategize for the future. Chapter 4 explains proper behavior in the workplace with sections on work attire, and breakdowns of health insurance and retirement accounts. And a chapter on “The Least You Need to Know About Taxes” could come in handy every April.

Finally, a chapter on “Odds and Ends” metes advice on moving, car insurance, and engagement rings, and an extensive glossary helps with definitions.

Most graduates likely won’t have time to pore through life after school before they walk across the stage and claim their diplomas on May 21. But it’s likely a book they’ll keep handy as they ply the path of life beyond Smith.

“We hope you enjoy the book and its practical wisdom as you embark on the next phase of life,” writes Carrie Cadwell Brown, executive director of the AASC, in the book’s introduction. “Welcome to the Smith alumnae world of more than 40,000 talented women worldwide!”

That should help, too, with the transition to life after school.

-Eric Weld

5/17/06
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