Part of the life of a writer is working toward completion of your project and then finding a publishing venue, whether a literary magazine or a publishing house. One of our alumna, Khristian Mecom, wrote a blog post about this. Check it out and start thinking about pieces you might have ready to submit during your tenure in the program.
Of course, it's not mandatory to send work out, but it's a good practice for several reasons. First, it develops fortitude: facing rejection can be difficult, but it's important to remember the number of submissions different journals receive—and how many now-famous writers talk about their years of rejections. One writer joked that she could wallpaper her bathroom with rejection slips. But more importantly, she went on to say that "she chose not to see [rejections] as messages to stop, but rather as tickets to the game."
A specific submission routine can be incredibly helpful. Keep track of submissions on a spreadsheet, so you know exactly where and when you've sent work. Note the rank of journals that accept your work and then aim higher. As soon as a rejection comes in, immediately send the piece out again elsewhere.
Our students have submission parties, where they bring their work, the envelopes and stamps (or, much more common now, their laptops for online submissions) and talk about the journals they've discovered and whose work might be particularly suited to them. Any editor will tell you to have knowledge of what a journal prints before sending work; this is true. It not only prevents you from annoying an editor, it also increases your chances of successful publication. Our students have been published in Passages North, Black Warrior Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, C4, The Kenyon Review, Luna Station Quarterly, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Pank, and other journals.