Alumni in Action: Cate LeSourd ’15 releases book about transitioning after college

In the book, "Coming of Age: Our Journey Into Adulthood," LeSourd attempts to assist young adults in the transition into life after college.

In October 2021, “Coming of Age: Our Journey Into Adulthood” by Cate LeSourd ’15 was released online and at bookstores across the country. The book includes many quotes and anecdotes from fellow Elon alumni, and she credits several of them for encouraging and supporting her throughout her journey to launch day. With this book, LeSourd hopes to show college students and young professionals that the significant challenges faced in your 20s and 30s are common.

“Now more than ever, young generations are constantly comparing and measuring themselves up to their peers, or celebrities and influencers, and think they may be the only one who is struggling,” LeSourd said. “The goal of this book is to open up conversation to help others realize they are not alone.”

“Coming of Age” examines the impact of this life transition when it comes to career success, relationship, financial status, community engagement and mental health. The book uniquely highlights the ups and downs from the perspective of those going through it – other twenty- and thirty-somethings.

While LeSourd has now found success, it did not come without a lot of her setbacks and learning opportunities. These experiences, many of which took place during her time at Elon, gave her the narrative needed to write “Coming of Age.”

For many Elon seniors, their final spring semester is filled with joy and excitement as they receive job offers and start planning their transition into the “real world.” Within one year of graduating, an astounding 95% of Elon graduates are employed, a statistic based on the class of 2019, and 92% of graduates are in positions related to their career goals. However, for many students, it isn’t always as plain sailing as it seems.

LeSourd was one of those students who faced rejection in what should’ve been months of celebration. Her story of what led to her writing “Coming of Age” begins in January 2015 when she was named a semifinalist for the national Golin “Unternship” program along with five other candidates, one of which was a classmate.

Golin, an international public relations agency, established the “Unternship” as a three-month program that can be considered relatively unconventional in comparison to other internships. The program sees candidates planning an adventure throughout the United States and documenting the trip through Golin in the form of blogs, social media posts and videos. Perhaps the biggest perk of the opportunity is that the individual selected is guaranteed a full-time position following the completion of the three months with Golin.

In February of the same year, LeSourd was invited as one of three finalists to Chicago, where she interviewed with many Golin employees, including the CEO. For LeSourd, this opportunity was so close she could almost touch it. Unfortunately, she fell very slightly short.

The competition had garnered a lot of attention because she was featured as the cover story of the student magazine and included in online Elon articles. LeSourd made an unexpected move and took to social media to share her disappointment at not being selected for the position. This post was severely contrasting to all of those around it, a rejection among congratulations and celebration.

“I decided to post my rejection, which was a bold move to share in March of your senior year,” explained LeSourd. “That said, I began to develop a passion for bringing to light hard topics and times of struggle that people don’t often talk about.”

This passion continued to grow as LeSourd posted to her blog an insert titled “Post-grad: What they don’t tell you” in October 2015. It was from that blog post, and the attention it gained, that she came up with the idea to start writing about the challenges of navigating your twenties from her point of view. LeSourd felt that this book filled a large gap in the market, so it was an exciting project to work on.

“While there are some excellent books out there about your 20s or about building your career, I realized they are almost always written from an experienced professional, psychologist or counselor, or some expert who has knowledge or expertise to share,” LeSourd said. “I saw an opportunity to share the voice from the perspective of those going through it.”

With an outline created on Jan. 19, 2016, and an eagerness to start writing, it would be easy to assume that creating “Coming of Age” was a straightforward task, but as the theme of her book tells us, sometimes reality doesn’t match the dream, and that is OK.

A few months after the outline was created, she was laid off as a part of budget cuts, leading to a period of sudden unemployment. While this gave her time to write, survey individuals and develop themes, it also led to a desperation for work, so she took the first job she was offered. The job was different than expressed in the interview and she later experienced the reality of an unhealthy work environment. The trying times continued.

Over the next few years, LeSourd faced difficulties with finding the right job, receiving a rescinded offer and struggling to balance working hard and taking care of herself. She also had limited time to write, even though she was collecting so much real-life experience to pour into the pages. By the spring of 2019, she knew it was time to start working on the book again. For the next two years, she spent countless hours writing and editing until the manuscript was complete. From there, she worked with editors to finalize the version that is printed today.

In LeSourd’s eyes, this book, and her entire post-grad story, has been heavily influenced by her time at Elon. Her choice to study in three different areas, communications, human services and entrepreneurship gave her a wide variety of perspectives, which is key when writing a book such as “Coming of Age.”

From a qualitative standpoint, she developed a wide variety of analytical skills during her time with the Human Services Studies Department, skills that were incredibly helpful when surveying her peers. The years she spent in the School of Communications as a Communications Fellow were also imperative to her career, as that is when her passion for writing took off.

“While I didn’t have as clear of a direct path as most of my peers with goals of becoming journalists, film directors or advertising executives, I knew I wanted to utilize the impact of the written word and the power of storytelling to make a difference in the lives of others,” said LeSourd. “The coursework provided me with many classes that improved my writing, design and storytelling skills.”

But for LeSourd, there wasn’t just one area of her time at Elon that drove her to complete “Coming of Age.” The value that Elon puts on engaged learning, and the opportunities students are given to partake in hands-on learning and real-life experiences played a huge role in preparing her to write this book. These experiences gave her the confidence and skills to become the talented author she is today.

“Elon’s education prepared me to be a critical thinker, to be creative and to believe in myself that I can set out to accomplish an idea,” LeSourd said.

Coming of Age: Our Journey Into Adulthood by Cate LeSourd ’15 can be purchased on Amazon or in bookstores throughout the country. Visit LeSourd’s website for more information about her as well as where the book can be purchased.