What to do after graduating

This is the burning question for every newly graduated person I know: What now?

You have successfully not failed, your parents now have a traditional cap-and-gown picture to boast about whenever beloved (hated) family members come over, and you’re actually quite proud of yourself for having reached the word count on that dissertation two hours before the deadline (Yeah, I know you did it last-minute – we all did. Don’t lie.)

So what’s the next step now that you’re finally done with the only thing you’ve ever had to do? I for one, have only ever been good at academics. That’s what I’m known for. The literary geek. The bibliophile. The grammar nazi. But now that I have no assignments to write, no classical literature to analyse or sociopolitical movements to research, I’m really struggling to figure out what to do with myself. And since having a piece of paper to certify that you’ve successfully graduated in a subject doesn’t automatically land you your dream job, I’m assuming I’m not the only one feeling like this. So I had to sit down and comprise a list of all the options I have. Enjoy.

1- Travelling the world
Ah yes, the aspirational I’ve-done-my-duty-now-it’s-time-to-have-fun phase. Or maybe it’s the I’m-too-young-to-be-tied-down-yet-I’m-going-backpacking-first phase. Whichever one it is, you finally have all the time in the world to travel to all those countries you’ve been reading about in your course.   The problem is, what is the likelihood of that actually happening? I mean, I’m sure some people were smart enough to not spend all their student loans, or had a good part-time job that allowed them to save up and now they have enough to finance a tour around Asia. Either that or you’ve got reasonably wealthy (and loving) parents that don’t burden you with halving the household bills, in fact, they’re sponsoring your post-graduation vacations as a treat for… submitting your dissertation 2 minutes before the deadline. (Stop denying it. We all did it.)

2- Working
Unfortunately, this is the most realistic choice for the majority of us. It’s not our dream job. It’s not even our second or third choice. In fact, it’s probably a lousy retail job with long hours and minimum wage because let’s face it, your line manager doesn’t care that you have a bachelor of arts’ degree in English Literature, or that you speak 3 different languages fluently, or that you’re self-taught in 5 different modules because you had very busy (lazy) teachers. Nope, they just want you to clock in and out on time, and no chewing gum during your shift – even if it helps with your anxiety. You go home every day feeling like you’re in your late 30’s rather than early 20’s, and still holding onto a thin line of hope as you fill out another online application for a paid internship. Because no one wants to be a cashier for the rest of their life.

3- Blogging
*All my single bloggers, put your hands up*
Hey! There’s nothing wrong with taking up a blog. Whether you’re a bibliophile or not, whether you graduated in English or Business, it doesn’t matter. This is a good way to fill up all those empty hours that were once attributed to seminars (or bunking them). It may not be a source of income, ever, but you finally have the time to commit to it rather than posting sporadically like you used to do back in college. Plus, some of us just enjoy writing (typing) and have a lot of anxiety about the future to fuel our ideas.

3- Soul-searching
*clears throat* this is really just a polite way of saying… absolutely nothing. I mean, it’s okay to give yourself a break after the most stressful year of your life (probably) but now that summer is over it’s no longer cool to be living in your parents’ attic binge-watching Netflix and scrolling through Instagram. I get it, you’re way too educated to apply for that Primark vacancy, but you’re still not nearly experienced enough to get that office job you really want. You can’t just sit and do nothing, waiting for life to sort itself out and hand you all the answers on a silver platter. I’m sure we all know someone like this, lucky enough to not feel the pressure from their parents, or maybe they don’t have older siblings who’ve already set high standards for them to live up to. In a way, I’m glad that’s not me, but deep down I also envy their lack of urgency.

Have I missed any options? Please share them in the comments.

Yours truly

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