‘Once you’re a Coug, you’re always a Coug’

WSU alumni give graduates advice about careers, connections



Zaya Tsengelmaa said making connections on LinkedIn is helpful in job searching.

JULIA MESSEGEE, Evergreen reporter

Fall 2022 graduation is sprinting toward students. If soon-to-be graduates are nervous, alumni have helpful tips to share, which may calm their nerves.

Carrie Colbert, WSU Alumni Association Arizona chapter president, said the best way to search for jobs after graduation is by leaning into students’ network of fellow Cougs.

“I realized how many Cougs were in my company at that point when I was in Washington. And I didn’t realize that before, like the network of people you can meet,” Colbert said.

She earned her associate degree in business administration and her bachelor’s degree in women’s studies at WSU, graduating in 2009. She then moved on to earn her MBA at Grand Canyon University in leadership-oriented business. Now, she works for ALSCO, a linen company.

“Once you’re a Coug, you’re always a Coug,” she said.

She said students should not be afraid to ask for help when help is needed.

Colbert said the O*NET Online website is helpful for recent grads who may search for specific job positions, zip codes and salary ranges.

Carrie Nisco, spring 2022 graduate, said if graduates know exactly what they want, they should keep their energy running and take that next step to get that dream job.

Carrie Nisco said there is too much pressure on students to decide what they will do post-graduation.

She said if graduates fall under the umbrella of people who might not know what they want, there is no pressure to figure life out immediately.

Nisco majored in biology and is still unsure of what exactly she wants to do. She is currently a paraeducator and said this job will spruce up her resume for her potential healthcare job in the future because working with people looks great to employers.

Nisco said it is OK to acquire a job, which serves the purpose of sprucing up your resume while you seek for what you really want.

There is too much pressure on graduates even though many are so young, Nisco said.

Zaya Tsengelmaa, who is a spring 2022 graduate as well, said making connections in the industry you have your sights on is a smart move.

Improving your LinkedIn resume is also extremely helpful, she said.

Timothy Hogg, 2004 WSU graduate, worked at the Daily Evergreen for a semester during his college career. He said his position there looked great on his resume, and staying involved is a smart choice.

Hogg said he also started the Student Entertainment Board (SEB).

Hogg, who was in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication but left to earn his degree in English instead of broadcast journalism, said people do not know students need help unless they reach out.

Students should not feel like they should know the material. If they need support, they can reach out to their classmates and professors, he said.

He also said Cougs are all over the world, a message, which seems to resonate with many.

Life is all about connections. Hogg said his current boss is a Coug, and the CIO of the company was his college roommate.

The odd feeling after graduation will subside with patience, and students cannot expect to become Elon Musk overnight, Hogg said.

Hogg answered an advertisement on Craigslist to teach English in China for one year in 2005 and discovered it was not a scam.

“I still keep in touch with a couple of them,” Hogg said.

When Nisco graduated, she was able to reconnect with family and the hobbies she did not have time for during college, which helped her get over her sense of anxiety.

“Your whole life has been building for this moment and you lose momentum when you’re out cuz you’re not constantly occupied,” she said.

It is easy to compare oneself to other graduates, see them enter graduate school or internships, and feel behind. She said everyone is different and does not take the same path, and she encourages students to not be hard on themselves right after graduation.

Hogg said he recommended a five-year plan and reminded soon-to-graduate students that “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Nisco said she sprinkles in some interaction with her friends, but a lot of them are in their senior year because she completed Running Start. She tries to avoid distracting them too much.

Tsengelmaa has friends all over the world, with whom she still schedules calls. She is currently planning when she will meet with her friend in Germany and said it is important to remember to message college friends and stay in touch.

One of Colbert’s favorite memories of WSU was being part of ZZU Crew, watching basketball even though the games were streamed online. She said it was a great way to network, and she became involved with the WSU alumni network after graduation as well.

“Just realize that you become part of a family once you graduate,” she said.

Colbert said graduation is amazing because fellow Cougs are everywhere after the ceremony.

She graduated in December 2009. Although she went to school online in what is now known as the Global campus, she was able to celebrate with her daughter, family and other Cougs on campus.

Hogg said he graduated when he was 29 after taking a few years off from school. The ceremony had more meaning for him because he was not “just checking a box.”

He said he then completed a year of graduate school at WSU following the ceremony.

“Pullman’s always got a special place in my heart,” he said.