It happens everywhere I go these days. At the hair salon, home for the weekend with friends, at dinner with my parents – I cannot escape the inevitable question. I am talking about the question that every second semester college senior dreads: “What are you going to do after graduation?” As I mumble and dodge the question, trying to seem as confident as possible, my only thought is “what am I going to do?”
Every time this comes up I feel like I have been punched in the gut, the uneasiness I have been trying to suppress rises to the surface and I am forced to face reality. I usually say something about how I have applied to graduate programs, how I am “casting a wide-net” and seeing what pans out, about how the company I interned for last summer has graciously offered me another internship for this summer. It is the answer people want to hear. They don’t want to hear that I have no idea what I want to do, that I have so many ideas and passions I do not even know where to begin, that I am terrified to go into a workforce in such an unstable economy, or that I am afraid my degree doesn’t mean anything.
I know I am not the only one feeling this way. The uncertainty that graduation brings is absolutely terrifying. The workforce isn’t that same way it was when our parents graduated from college. Jobs that used to only require a bachelors degree now require a masters and 3-5 years of applicable experience. In a society where technology and science based industries are flourishing, the need for humanities majors like myself seem to be dwindling. The appreciation for intellectual stimulation is declining while the need for a faster, tech-based solutions is increasing. How do I find my place in workforce that doesn’t really have room for me?
Our parents and advisors say to check out the career center, go to the career fairs, or go through other conventional means to find a job. They make it seem so easy. Living in an economy that has been in a downturn for most of my life, I have known nothing different. I am used to seeing high unemployment rates, stories of how parents have to support their “adult children”, and how people with masters and law degrees resign to waiting tables to try and pay off their enormous student loans.
I believe our generation is the rebirth of an enterprising movement. In order to make a living we must be unconventional in our efforts. In a world where almost everyone has a college degree, a plethora of reputable extra-curriculars, and is at least semi-intelligent, it is increasingly important and difficult to stand out from the crowd. I feel that my future will entail creating a space in society for myself. In true American spirit, I will blaze a trail to create a prosperous future for myself. What this journey will be I am not exactly sure yet, but I can guarantee you this won’t be the last you hear of me.