You’ve spent years toiling away at your degree or diploma. You’ve devoted as much time and energy as you could to getting that piece of paper that says you’re a graduate. Maybe you spent two years in school full time or seven years studying part time. The point is, you’re done! Here comes the question you might have been avoiding: now what?
Life after post-secondary school doesn’t have to be a scary unknown. Depending on what your goals are, or even what your program of study was, you could have a very clear path in front of you. Those who study nursing are more likely to have a clear goal in mind, for example. But what about the rest of us? Maybe you’re like me: you study to achieve your degree but don’t know what you’re going to do with it. Perhaps you wanted to change your program while you were studying but didn’t for various reasons. What about us? Let me be your navigator in this uncertain time.
If You Need It, Take a Break
Many moons ago, when I finished my degree in English, I immediately began a college program. I did this because I had wanted to study something different while I was in university but family pressure kept me from changing my program. When I graduated, I had felt that I met my familial obligations so it was alright for me to study what I actually wanted: the thing that would get me the job I really wanted. What I didn’t realize is that I was incredibly burnt out.
After fourteen years of public school (I did a few extra years of high school because it was free and I wanted to up my GPA) I dove right into university. There, I was met with three years of intense studying while working in order to support myself. I took courses in the summer, the evening, anything to get my degree done. I didn’t even take a gap before I jumped into college.
After burning the candle at both ends I had nothing left to give. I lasted three months before I quietly withdrew and found full time work. That break from academia saved me. It saved my mind, my passion and my energy.
Take some time to sit down and assess your current situation and what you may need to be successful. Are student loans a necessity? Is there a family you need to support? Write it out. Make a list of your obligations and then mark off which ones are highest on your priority list. Your next step should be to address these.
If you’re not sure what you can even do with your degree or diploma, speak to the career advisor at your school. Check out Set Your Course to see what careers are associated with your program. You could have the education you need to do the job you want and not even realize it!
- Consider volunteering.
Still hitting a wall? Do you have interest in an area you’ve never worked or studied in before? Try volunteering with an organization that works in that field to see if it fits you. This is a great way to make connections in an industry and learn about the various positions available.
Talk to the people around you. There are friends, family, faculty, coworkers that have that nugget of information you’re looking for. Tell them what your concerns are and actively listen to what the people around you say. By connecting to the alumni association at your school you can speak to graduates who have the same credentials you do and work in the industries you’re interested in.
We all have that idea that as soon as we graduate our dream job will present itself, we’ll easily get an interview and then start our career that we studied so hard for. Be open to the idea that this may not happen smoothly after you graduate. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed when you hit some speed bumps in your life. There are plenty of interruptions that you’ll find yourself facing: moving, starting a family, marriage, divorce, taking that survival job until you land the one of your dreams. Think of these moments as learning experiences. This can be incredibly frustrating but I urge you not to beat yourself up about it.
Whether you decide to go back to school or get a job or volunteer, if you set your mind at continually learning from every experience, I’m confident that you’ll find yourself doing what you love. You can do this!
About “The Navigator”
“The Navigator” is a monthly blog about student life by the Campus Manitoba Virtual Help Desk. Check back monthly to find more tidbits of wisdom with “The Navigator”. You’ll be sure to find all kinds of information that will help you be successful in your educational journey. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news and information!