What to do after PLU? PLU.

By Molly Petersen ’20

“What will you do once you are done with school?” the question that tends to freeze college students in their tracks. With graduation looming, this question gains relevancy by the day for many seniors. A member of the PLU Class of 2016 shared her experiences in the year immediately following her graduation.

Angie Tinker, ‘16, spent the last year closer to PLU than she initially expected, working as PLU’s Assistant Director of Forensics, or in plain terms, the coach for PLU’s debate team. Tinker applied for the job spring of her senior year following her tenure as debate team captain. Justin Eckstein, PLU’s Director of Forensics and Associate Professor of Communication, told Tinker she would be a good candidate for the position.


Angie Tinker, ’16, catches the camera’s eye en route to judging a debate round at USU Western Regionals Tournament. There were 72 teams registered in the tournament hosted by PLU. Photo courtesy of Elise Anderson.

Tinker has encountered surprises and challenges in her new role on the PLU campus this year. As debate coach, Tinker entered into a position of authority among a group of students who were recently her peers. This transition came with challenges.

“I had to make a lot of conscientious choices because I was really self-conscious about the sort of power dynamics I would have over people I would consider my friends,” Tinker said.

To cope with this issue Tinker said she read about teaching ethics and talked to teachers whom she admired in order to determine where the line between teacher and friend should lay.

“She does a good job of understanding that in some moments she needs to be a coach and in some moments I just need her as my friend,” Brooke Wolfe, senior, said of Tinker, “when I need to be like I’m so mad at debate right now, she can be like “yeah, same,” even though she is a coach.”


Angie Tinker, ’16, becomes animated discussing debate at the USU Western Regional Debate Tournament. PLU Debate hosted the tournament March 25-26. Photo courtesy of Elise Anderson.

The impact of her year as debate coach surprised Tinker. Tinker said she hopes to
become a high school teacher and debate
coach following her time as PLU’s coach, an option she had not considered before taking this job.

“My time as assistant director has made me realize that I really love teaching,” Tinker said.

Outside of work, Tinker has seen other changes in her daily life. Instead of going to class every day, she gets to spend her time outside of coaching gardening and spending time with her dogs. Instead of seeing her friends who she went to school with every day, Tinker said she works hard in maintaining connections with her friends who have moved away from the region following graduation.

Although Tinker is still a member of the PLU community, she no longer interacts with some of the parts of PLU that were key to her experiences as a student such as bulletin boards and LollaPLUza.

When it comes to finding jobs following her time as coach, Tinker remains optimistic.

The belief that lack of experience, in life and in work, undermines one’s legitimacy still reigns among young job seekers. This concern comes with good reason, according to the U.S. Department of Labor individuals aged 25-34 have the highest rate of unemployment in workers 25 and older.

While Tinker said she occasionally does feel insecure about her age, her experiences
with PLU staff members have been positive and her authority has been respected.

According to PLU’s website, 5.2 percent of the Class of 2015 were unemployed in the first six months following graduation. Compared to the national average of 12.9 percent, 5.2 percent is a small margin of graduates.

Tinker advises any students anxious about getting a job to be open minded and to fully consider opportunities that arise, even if they are not exactly what you had planned for.

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