I went from high school to undergrad to graduate school. That’s 6 to 7 years of college or 6 to 7 years of career delay… At this point, I can kind of see why people just stay in school collecting degrees and deferring loans as long as possible. But loans have to be paid off with interest and I eventually will have to work in the field that’s I’ve studied for. I knew that I was going to be in school for a long time. Every career path that I have ever chosen requires not only four years of study at a university but 2 to 6 years more of advanced study.
In academia, I know what I need to do and what is expected of me. I can map everything out, scheduling my time meticulously while gaining experiences that will… Well, I would say something like “lay the foundation for my career” but I’m not sure anymore. Education is not a substitute for actual work experience. I am starting to see education as a way of widening and refine a career path. Or even giving you the membership you need to even enter a field. Though no matter how many degrees you have you will have to do the work. You will have to graduate and you will either stay in the “comfortable” system of academia or wade into a world of complementing expectations.
I have about two years left and its exciting and all but also so terrifying. I was reading some articles on what to do after graduate school and one of them said to be comfortable with uncertainty. The only way I know how to do this is to make a list, to map out what I can do and what paths I can take. I’m not good with uncertainty, I hate it.
After I am done with school I do not have much time to find a job. I do not have parents who will send me checks to ‘tide’ me over while I search. I do have a boyfriend who is also in college, two fur babies, and lots of student loans. I don’t have the safety net that college has been thus far. If I did poorly in a class I could retake it. If I didn’t get the internship I wanted I still had granted. Once they hand me my master’s degree I will have to fight to stay afloat. I’ve worked since I was 16 years old but never in a job that I could live with let alone grow in.
So I’ve made a career change. Now I am in a major where I can take classes outside of the nine to five work window. This means I will get a job now, a job in my field… because I’m in grad school. Though I’m not in the Ph.D. so I don’t have a lot of time to wait. When I first went into grad school I thought that I could use my degrees to jump past the grunt work. I don’t want to work my way up from the bottom over the next decade. I have to though, hopefully, my studies and experiences will speed up this process. If I plan my education out well enough I can grow quickly. I still need to grow regardless of my starting point. If I entered a position cemented in stagnation I wouldn’t have a reason to get up in the morning.
I want to move forward with my career… but I’m scared it’s hard. Depression doesn’t help. I don’t want to get into a job, into a career, into a field and find out that I’m not a good match. After speaking with my a senior member at the career center I was given some valuable advice. Just work. Go on informational interviews, network, meet new people, take internships, part-time jobs, full-time jobs. This is the only way to move forward. This is what I will do.
I don’t know. Here is what I do know:
Look for jobs. Not necessarily a job to stay in but rather a jumping off point.
Talk to career advisers. I find career advisers, a professor, or a friend. In grad school, everyone has more experience because they are specializing in an area of study.
An informational interview can help narrow down the field you want to enter (non-profit, profit, government etc).
Prep a cover letter. Write a few cover letters for each type of job you want to apply to. You probably did something similar when you were applying for school, think back to how you crafted a statement of interest/purpose.
Prep your resume and CV. Depending on the type of job you want. If you notice holes, holes that other candidate have to add it to your to-do list. Or, fill in those gaps or re-craft your current experience, research experience can translate to project management, statistical analysis, collaboration, or presentation expertise.
Now you can set up a plan or two or three. See my next posts for more plans. I make plans and most of them change. So will my posts.