This time of year inevitably generates the question to new grads "what are you going to do after graduation?". Which is another way of saying "what are you going to do with the rest of your life?". Some grads seem to have it mapped out already in terms of career path. They are engineers, computer scientists, doctors, etc. They have vocational types of degrees. They are admired on some level for having their stuff together. That's great. Good for them.
That is also not how a lot a grads and people in general make their way through life, and that is ok also.
It was very common, back in the day, to hear people remark that despite your major, you probably would not get a job in your major. Most of those comments were toward the traditional liberal arts majors. And that made sense. They are not vocational majors. They are broad areas of learning and not focused on a particular area of study that leads to a specific line of work. In today's world they seem to be thought of as somehow inferior majors. Art History? How will that make any money? How will you pay off your student debt? Sad really.
When I reflect back on my own post college path, there have been many twists. Not all of them that well planned:
- Graduated in May
- Took position at a middle school finishing out year. 5th or 6th teacher that year. Yikes!
- Did not accept position for next year
- Took job working on nine hole golf course. Learned to build tees.
- After that, worked as a framing carpenter. Weather can suck.
- Landed a job as a high school teacher, coach. Loved it, poor as a church mouse.
- Left for graduate school. High expectations.
- Moved to northern Virginia after graduate school. Expectations brought to earth.
- Began work at a commercial printer
- Left for work at a yellow page publisher
- Laid off after 16 years
- Landed at a financial institution
There were many events that drove these decisions. Some financial, some driven by a different vision for myself, some just trying to figure out what I liked and did not like. None made in a vacuum. There were others involved.
My point is that there was no clear path. My father worked at the same company for 39 years, so that was my model. My father in law is a physician, so his path was to practice medicine as a vocation. Is it any wonder I would feel lost and adrift? I did not have a clear path.
Through all this, there were people who assisted, encouraged, challenged, advised. There still are.
For new graduates there are many unanswered questions. There is also a feeling of being ungrounded. After all, a college experience offers structure and purpose. Outside of that, the purpose may be lost initially. But people generally know what they like and what they don't like, so that helps get them going in some direction.
Nothing is scripted or that well planned. One thing to keep in mind is that as life moves along, you can course correct and adjust to changes. The key is to not be self limiting.
What has your path been like? Was it laid out for you or more seemingly random?