When I graduated from my university in December 2012, I thought the world was mine to conquer. I had visions of immediately landing my dream job, becoming a successful member of society, and being the recipient of countless accolades and compliments. I even imagined myself having so much success that I could afford to travel all summer and write from my new RV (which I was going to buy with all my post-grad money, of course).
I’ve never considered myself a naive person, but I’ve been wrong before.
Transitioning from a full time student to a person ready to enter the work force has not be easy. Here’s a list of unanticipated post-grad realities:
- There may not be a career waiting in the wings. I went to school for two main reasons: I wanted to follow my passion and become qualified for a job in the field I love. I was warned that English would not be the most lucrative field to go into, at least not right out of the gate. In my head, I knew and accepted this and chose to go with what I loved rather than what I knew would make more money sooner. But in my heart I had subconsciously hoped that things would be different for me, and I would be the exception that proved the rule. I was not.
- You may become a hermit. This may only apply to me, but my social life — which was not fast paced to begin with — slowed to a crawl when I graduated. But I must be swimming in free time, you say? My flexible schedule has left me with plenty of time but not plenty of money, and everything costs money. Even free activities cost gas if you’re not in walking distance. Furthermore, I may be free to do what I want with my time, but most of my friends and family are not. The majority of the people in my life are either in careers or still in school.
- You may actually miss school. After I graduated, I found myself wishing I could be in an English class again. Once you’re at a certain level in college, most of your classes are about the subject you love. That’s not to say the classes aren’t difficult or tiring at that point, but I would argue that the challenge can be exiting — especially when you conquer it. I miss being able to discuss common interests that I don’t share with many people in my personal life, being able to ace a tough exam or essay, and the valuable information and critiques from my professors.
- You may feel inadequate for ‘the real world.’ Oh sure, I can wade through difficult prose, write A-quality essays, and explicate poetry, but I somehow missed the memo about how to write a cover letter for a resume. I even had to search the internet for instructions on how to actually write said resume. Also, I have no idea how to file my taxes. Why wasn’t that a required class?
- People will pressure and question you about getting a job. Though mostly well meaning, the people in my life who have either never been in my shoes or have not filled them recently have endlessly questioned me about my unemployment. It is difficult, embarrassing, and discouraging to constantly find yourself saying that no, you have not been hired anywhere yet, but it is even more difficult to explain those feelings to others in a way that makes them understand.
- Bonus: You may look forward to going back. I have plans to return for my masters, and am looking forward to walking back through those double doors into the English department more and more each day.