Are you sick of hearing the dreaded question, “What are you going to do after you graduate?” I think this is a sore subject that many soon-to-be graduates share.
I would say that a major problem is that many students don’t have a clue what their future plans are, even in the short term. Some are fortunate enough to have an inkling of what field they want to pursue, but there are plenty that don’t even know that much. What exacerbates the problem even more is the pressure on graduating seniors to get everything figured out ASAP. As if there isn’t already enough going on in the seniors’ busy lives: taking GREs, MCATs, LSATs and GMATs, the whole graduate school application process, job interviews, etc. And, personally, I haven’t found those “inspirational” job-hunting books all that inspiring.
At the gym I saw a guy wearing a shirt that said in big letters “RECENT GRADUATE,” then underneath in smaller letters, “May I take your order?” I, too, got caught up in the whole mess of not knowing what the hell I want to do, and the fact that I’ll have to make some kind of decision in the next few months used to be a scary thought. After being bombarded by everyone from the dentist to family friends, I concocted a generic answer along the lines of, “No, not law school, I actually don’t really know.” It gets to the point where you’re so sick of the dreaded question that you get angry when people ask it, and then stressed because you can’t get your mind off of it. And isn’t it the worst when these semi-random people offer you advice such as, “I think you’d really love being a [fill in the blank]. I have a friend that’s in that line of work and loves it.”
Recently I received a call from my much older brother who asked me how everything was going, and I found myself venting my frustration on him. He gave me the best advice that I’ve heard so far. He talked about how he rushed to get a steady job as soon as he graduated and wound up working a string of boring unrewarding jobs for years. Then he finally fell into a business that he really liked and worked his way from there. Now he’s an entrepreneur, runs his own business and is really happy with it. The point is that he never slowed down to take time and figure out what he really loved to do. He said people should take the time just after graduation to find themselves and not rush out to get any old job, but search for what really interests them. He said people in their early 20s can take time to travel and soul search (something he feels he missed out on), but once they get to be in their early 30s it’s no longer as appropriate. The other good thing about taking time to find one’s self is that the people who are asking you the dreaded question often think that it is a clever answer.
After some consideration, I decided on a short-term plan that is not perfect. But hey, at least I am working on a plan. I’m going to get a job that I like in one of several fields that I think I could possibly enjoy, and try it out. That doesn’t mean that I’m stuck permanently in that particular occupation. However, this will give me the chance to see what I like and don’t like, and get some experience to put on my resumé. Since the job will not likely be my dream job, I won’t have the pressure to stick with it if I hate it. This plan also eliminates the possibility that I’ll be unemployed for long periods of time, waiting for the perfect job to fall into my lap. I can also support myself, if for no other reason than to reduce the amount of mooching from my parents and/or to avoid being stuck for too long in the black hole of my hometown (I think many of you can relate).
Possibly, later on, I’ll partake in some kind of graduate school, but I really don’t see the rush. I mean we just got finished with so many years of schooling, why rush into more? Especially if you’re unclear about what field you’re interested in, put off graduate school until you find something you’re passionate enough about to go back to school for. Like I read in a recent horoscope, “In the race between the tortoise and the hare, the tortoise always wins.” We’re young, and there isn’t a real rush to have everything figured out.
Flynne Hustein is a senior law and society major.