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Opinion

Ask Colleen: Choose your own career adventure

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March 22, 2017

Dear Colleen,

I’m slightly freaking out because I graduate this May and I have no idea what I want to do. I feel like everyone around me is getting jobs, and I am definitely nowhere near that. Part of me knows that it is more realistic to get a stable job in Minnesota.

However, there is another part of me that wants to move to a completely different state or even country to experience something different. I recently came across an opportunity to move to Texas for a month this summer to act as a camp counselor. I know it isn’t the most secure option, but I am more concerned with gaining experience.

I guess I feel like I am stuck between doing something stable and doing something more adventurous and fun. Please, I need some help! What should I do?

Almost Grad

Almost Grad,

You didn’t end your question with a name, so I gave you one. I hope that’s okay! I feel like “Almost Grad” literally sums up where you are in life and everyone only says “recent grad,” not “almost grad.” There is a big difference and a lot more anxiety.

Trust me, you are not the only one freaking out about graduation approaching. At the beginning of the semester, I would have bi-weekly mental breakdowns about if I would get a job after graduation, where I would be living and if my degree would really be useful. The list goes on, but I finally came to the conclusion that I don’t need to have an answer today, next week or even after I graduate.

I think a lot of people have this idea that the job they get after they graduate is the one that they are going to have for the rest of their lives. Clearly, this is not the case, but there is this immense amount of pressure to have a job lined up after you graduate. Trust me, I get it, I’m in the exact same position as you.

What is important and what you should give yourself credit for is that you are looking at different options and being proactive about your plans after you get that diploma. That’s an accomplishment in itself! We all know how hard it is to balance class, work and a social life as it is. It doesn’t help to add trying to find a job to that list. I might be too mellow about this now, but I was once only consumed with finding a job. I stopped worrying and searching for jobs daily, and my life has become a lot less stressful.

The best thing you can do is to not compare yourself to others. This is much easier said than done, but you’ll drive yourself crazy if you do. You aren’t your friends, and your friends aren’t you. Each of you will be making different choices after graduation and will be heading down different paths. Plus, there isn’t a right or wrong way to get a job. A job is a job. Who cares what everyone else is doing around you? Focus on what you are doing, and you are doing the right things! You are thinking ahead and looking at different opportunities for your future.

You talk about finding a job that is “secure” or “stable,” but nothing in life is. In all honesty, nothing in life is guaranteed, and jobs will constantly come and go. Those people who have jobs lined up after graduation aren’t going to be the only successful ones. You, no one else, can measure your success.

I would suggest you don’t worry about what is the most traditional or secure, but instead go with what makes you happy. You want adventure? Now is the perfect time, but it also doesn’t have to be the perfect time.

I know that sounds a bit mixed up. What I am trying to say is that all of these choices are what you make of them. Obviously, there are some logistic things, like money and a living situation that you’ll need to figure out, but guess what? Things always fall into place. No matter what you choose to do, make sure you are doing it because you want to and not because you feel like you have to.

Almost Grad, I wish you the best of luck as you move forward from this crazy chapter and onto the next adventure in your life. Remember that there is no right or wrong choice, just the choice that you make.

Good luck,

Colleen

Colleen Brown is a student at UW-River Falls.