Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Work post college: how recent grads navigate flip from student to pro

One recent grad explains that transition has presented challenges, successes
Jack Saundercook completes virtual work for Advance Auto Parts

After a restful winter break, the University of Wisconsin campus, which had until recently felt like a deserted island, is bustling once again as Badgers have returned for spring instruction.

As UW looks to wrap up its first month of the spring semester this week, students everywhere are easing back into the routine of taking classes, hitting the books and completing assignments. Though familiar with this demanding and time-consuming cycle of keeping up with one’s studies, one group of Badgers is experiencing a different sort of transition.

Having received their degrees in December, winter graduates are now off to bigger and better endeavors as they look to establish themselves in their respective careers post-college. Perhaps no one understands this better than Jack Saundercook, a recent graduate of the Wisconsin School of Business.


Saundercook, who studied Supply Chain Management and Operations and Technology Management at UW, now works for Advance Auto Parts, a North Carolina-based aftermarket auto parts maker. Speaking to The Badger Herald, Saundercook was quick to acknowledge the effect his time at UW had on his ability to be successful in his newfound career, which often had him working 60 hours per week.

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“Working here for a month now, I’ve realized that the time commitment is a really big part and it is a grind, really,” Saundercook said.

He attributed part of the success he has found to attending football games with the UW Marching Band, something he said imbued him with an ability to endure difficult challenges.

“Being a part of the band, waking up early on those game days and just practicing hours and hours every week and doing those three-a-days over Reg Week during the summertime, it really gave me the kind of grit that I needed to work these long hours.”

While being a determined breadwinner has paid off in his work life, Saundercook admitted that the transition between student life and post-graduation life has been, at times, difficult to navigate. Though many of his classmates have swiftly made a Houdini-esque disappearance from the Madison area, Saundercook has chosen to remain in Madison until his housing lease expires later this summer.

Due to this, Saundercook said he experiences a daily blending of college and professional lifestyles in his interactions with his roommates who are still pursuing their degrees.

While these lifestyles often conflict, Saundercook said he has to quickly shift mindsets between each of the environments he functions in.

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Though these two lifestyles are easy to intermix with one another, he prefers to keep a strict barrier between his personal and professional selves, Saundercook said.

“When I close my door, step into my bedroom office, it’s all business from there,” he said.

Another obstacle that comes with transitioning away from college, Saundercook noted, is not with what to do while you’re at work, but rather what to do once you return home for the day.

“In college you’re busy, you’re always doing something, you have work to do, you have something to check off and at work, sure you have that, but when you clock out, you gotta fill that time. You can’t just clock out and watch TV the rest of your life,” Saundercook said.

It is this search for new fulfillment that is currently garnering most of his attention outside of work, Saundercook said. Despite this, he remains adamant that everyone can find satisfying ways to spend their time beyond the confines of a structured college lifestyle by approaching the issue one spoonful at a time.

In reflecting on his experiences as a Badger, Saundercook highlighted the Badger community as a major driving force behind his desire to continue growing as an individual post-college.

“Everyone who goes here has been driven in their life and they performed well in high school to get to a school like this and that means they had some sort of good work ethic,” Saundercook said. “Surrounding yourself with a lot of people like that really helps you push yourself, so being around a bunch of other business school kids who are just like me and they want to pursue a great career and meet a lot of people, have a lot of experiences like that, it really pushed me to also do that.”

Though he has yet to pack his bags for Sparta, Saundercook felt confident that his time at UW was ultimately well-spent. Saundercook said the community here pushes you to be your best self.

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