“So, what are you doing after graduation?” That has to be the single most hated question for college seniors everywhere, the perfect answer to which is “lunch.”
That answer effectively deflects all further communication about the matter and will often result in hilarious expressions of shock and confusion from your interrogator. The question has earned the ire of students. It forces many to give an answer that explains an all too uncertain future.
If you’re one of the graduating seniors who either has a job lined up already or who has been accepted into graduate school, you hate the question because it has been asked approximately one billion times by now.
If you are one among the masses of graduating seniors who have no clear idea of what you will be doing, you hate the question because you hate scrambling for an answer that will make you seem like a sleep-deprived college student whose undecided future is enough to send them into an anxiety attack for the record books.
I’m talking a knee-bending, hair-pulling, shock-inducing type of panic attack that ends with the victim left in a catatonic state for days. OK, maybe it’s not that bad. Many graduating seniors, however, are genuinely frightened by the prospect of not having a job by graduation.
That fear is understandable because many seniors hear the question “What are you doing after graduation?” as “What are you going to be doing for the rest of your life?”
In those terms, the search for a job after college is a search for the answer to what your lifelong career will be and whether you will be a successful, independent adult. Extra question marks are tagged on to the end of that question for anyone with a major in the humanities.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “Can I have fries with that?” in response to me saying I’m an English major, my coffee addiction would be so well funded it would have killed me last year. That’s a lot of dollars.
On a side note, there are actually many applications for an English degree in the working world. You just have to market your skills well.
One of the reasons many seniors do not yet have a job lined up is that they are paralyzed by the belief that they must find a job in the field or company in which they want to stay for the rest of their lives.
The truth is that no one in his or her early 20s knows what he or she is going to do for the rest of their lives, and we should not worry about answering that question at that stage of life. The idea that the job you get after college is the one you are supposed to want to stay in for the rest of your life is enough to make anyone panic, but it is a false and groundless idea.
The company for which you work after graduation likely will not be the company with which you stay for the rest of your life, unless you are Steve Jobs reincarnated and are going to start your own company, in which case I beg of you, please use your technological wizardry to make all of Tony Stark’s technology a reality.
My point is this: Do not stress about finding the perfect job. Remember that this stage of life affords you the opportunity to try your hand at things that interest you. Yes, you need a job, but it is OK if when you take the job you are not certain that you want it to become your career.
So go work as a dive instructor in Florida, travel to a foreign country to teach English for a year, write stories for a magazine or travel to a place that interests you. Heck, you could even fulfill your childhood dream of being a pirate. I hear they’re hiring in Somalia (please don’t actually do this).
There is an entire world of potentially interesting jobs out there beyond the graduation stage. Don’t worry about starting a career or the perfect job, just find one that seems interesting and will pay the bills. Just remember to be proactive in pursuing whatever job you set your sights on unless it’s being an arms dealer in Sudan. Then, by all means, be lazy.
Josh Gill is a senior English major from Atlanta. He is a reporter for The Lariat.