Tuesday, July 12, 2011

To the Future College Graduate

To the Future College Graduate:

As a recent college graduate, I feel as if it’s my duty to forewarn the large demographic of anxious students that anxieties will remain intact even after graduation. Maybe you are one of the lucky few who have honed in on your “life’s ambition.” Congratulations.  But, if you are anything like me, you are simply confused with your possibilities. Here is an analogy: I’m staring at the massive, 15page menu at the Cheesecake Factory questioning how to satisfy my empty stomach. Do I stick with a yummy menu item I know? Or, do I upset my taste buds with something unexpected? Like the menu items, I question what path to travel. Do I remain comfortable and continue my path in the education system? Or, do I risk of uncertainty and discomfort? I took the path of a smart person, and started to explore other career paths…

Here is a problem I’ve repeatedly come across.  Yes, I did go to College. Yes, I did receive a BA in English and a minor in Linguistics. Yes, I did graduate at the top 10% of my class. And, yes, I would find my degree relevant to many professions—including teaching. But does that mean employers agree? No. More often I find my choice of study questioned—in turn, I question myself.   Time and time again, I am recited these dreadful words: “you are not qualified,” or “you have a degree in English? Are you going to teach?”  What happened to those  “entry-level” jobs that anyone, regardless of their degree, can obtain? News flash: they don’t exist. You either have a raincloud of luck booming overhead, or you know someone that knows someone.

The small coin of luck retrieved from my pocket is testament to this concept.  My newest venture (which is a traveling freelance job) was only obtained because of a close contact. For this small opportunity, I am grateful. After all, if it were not for this freelance work, I wouldn’t have been able to work in Dallas, Texas and Portland, Oregon—all in less than 3 months.  But, now that I’ve been home over a week with no consistent form of work, I find myself spending hours searching for another potential opportunity. 

With 41 applications and 7 interviews behind me-- all I consider is this: what am I doing? I’ve been told not to doubt myself, but my patience wears thin (especially when interviewers tell me that I should go back to school). I set the bar high, convincing myself that I wouldn’t fall into the category of those who end up working a minimum wage job. But, today, I felt a sense of desperation. Thousands of other college graduates work minimum wage jobs wherever they can get hired. So, how am I any better? The correct answer is as follows: I’m not better than anyone. Anyone. Nobody should have that attitude. But, I am different—maybe even unforgettable.

I recently went to celebrate a friend’s birthday; “life goals” became a quick topic.  As I was chatted with Kevin (a mutual friend at the lunch celebration), I shared some of my uncertainties—especially because I was lacking a career.  But, within those uncertainties, I found a moment of brilliance and said, “I truly believe that I am meant for something spectacular”—I just couldn’t put my finger on what that “something” was. It was then, that Kevin turned to me and stated, “Well, why aren’t you doing it?” Such a small statement became a profound moment for me. Why wasn’t I doing “it”—whatever that maybe? 

For those empathetic to my note: create your own path. Take the advice you wish to take, and pass the rest on for someone else. The path less travelled (thank you Robert Frost for the cliché) may be unsettling but rewarding nonetheless. So, if you need to hire an “analytic, creative planner and organizer” I’m your girl. I won’t let you down. But, if you’re trying to find your place in the disoriented American society, be persistent—and patient. Patients is key.


The College Graduate

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