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Whether you’re graduating in a few days or next year, two students who are about to graduate share some prep-your-tech-for-graduation tips that they wish had been on their radar sooner.

These members of the Class of 2024 want to grab the attention of rising seniors particularly because, they said, they would have started preparing their digital resources months before graduation. They want other students to start preparing way in advance.

The students offering these pre-graduation tech tips are Lesley Gonzalez and Lila Davidson, both of whom have worked for ITS Communications since 2022.

Lesley Gonzalez standing in a verdant courtyard on a spring day
Lesley Gonzalez
Lila Davidson leans on a stone wall in front of a Magnolia tree
Lila Davidson

Gonzalez and Davidson graduate on May 11. Gonzalez will graduate with a bachelor’s degree from UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. She’ll enter graduate school at Hussman in the fall. Davidson has earned her bachelor’s degree in English and Comparative Literature and continues with ITS Communications as a temporary employee.

“Beyond classes, grad photoshoots and house hunting, senior year has been a whirlwind of things to do,” Gonzalez said. “After working at ITS for nearly two years, I’ve learned a lot about UNC’s tech and how to manage it. Here’s some advice as you prepare to graduate for how to make the most out of your last year as a Tar Heel.”

Davidson, meanwhile, said, “It feels surreal to be leaving UNC after four years here! Like Lesley, I’ve worked for ITS for two years, and I’ve learned so much here about how to prepare my tech for classes, life as a student and now graduation.”

What tools are you taking advantage of before graduation?

Lesley Gonzalez: Some of my favorite tools to use with Onyen access are Linkedin Learning and the Adobe Creative Suite. Linkedin Learning has helped me stay updated on graphic design skills, get familiar with using generative AI, and learn about organizational skills to use in class and the office. The courses there have been immensely helpful for me to learn how to use tools like Copilot with Data Protection to the fullest, which helped me in classes and with work assignments. Adobe Creative Suite and its programs like Premiere Pro, After Effects and Photoshop are incredibly useful throughout the Hussman school. Having free access to the suite has been one of the best parts of being at UNC. I hope to buy many of the programs post-graduation due to how much I use them.

Lila Davidson: I am obsessed with Adobe Creative Cloud. My classes in the Hussman School have taught me how to use Premiere Pro, Illustrator, InDesign, Audition and Photoshop. I’m lucky to be continuing my time at UNC-Chapel Hill as a temporary employee at ITS Communications, which means I won’t lose access to my Creative Cloud subscription. Still, I’m spending time before graduation using InDesign to make my resume and Photoshop to edit my headshot.

How are you preparing for your loss of access to data after graduation?

Lesley Gonzalez: Preparing for graduation has been a little different for me since I’m going to keep my Onyen access for another year. As an incoming master’s student, I have until next year to keep my Onyen and everything under it. So, for me, senior year has been about organizing my files more so than backing them up. While it is important to have my important files stored in a safe place, I wanted to spend this semester focusing on keeping my information stored cleanly. A big part of this semester was learning how to use Copilot with Data Protection more effectively. I was able to ask the generative AI tool to give me file naming ideas for organization and easy tracking.

Lila Davidson: I’ll be working as an employee at ITS after graduation, which means that I won’t be losing access to my data until I stop being an employee. Still, my current goal is to make sure all of my files from my time at school are uploaded and organized in OneDrive.

What do you wish you knew before you started preparing for graduation?

Lesley Gonzalez: Something I would’ve loved to know before preparing for graduation is that my Onyen would not reset between my undergraduate and graduate degree. I was incredibly worried that I would have to start from scratch with a new Onyen, but no, I keep the same one. I also would’ve loved to know sooner that even if I wasn’t coming back, I wouldn’t lose Onyen access until 180 days after graduation. I really appreciate knowing that I’ll have a gap between graduating and losing Onyen access to finish backing up my files. Sometimes it can get difficult throughout the semester to find the time to work through everything, so the 180 days is a great thing to know if you’re especially swamped.

Lila Davidson: More than anything, I wish I had started preparing earlier! The end of this semester is a stressful time for many — there are finals to take and theses to finish, not to mention ceremonies to attend and graduation to coordinate. I wish I had spaced out my preparation more so that it wouldn’t have been as stressful.

What advice do you have for future graduating students?

Lesley Gonzalez: My number one piece of advice for future graduating students is to have fun and start preparing as early as possible! Don’t let your tech needs catch you off guard during finals. Start sooner rather than later and be sure to use all the helpful checklists ITS has to offer. But even if the end catches up to you sooner than you expect, stay calm and don’t panic! You still have time to get things in order. Congratulations on making it to the end!

Lila Davidson: Don’t feel too overwhelmed by trying to remember everything you have to do to prep your tech for graduation — ITS has your back. Like Lesley said, preparing earlier is the best advice I could give (and what I wish I had done). Congratulations on your accomplishment!


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