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Finding your way at a post-graduation crossroads

Since the very start of freshman year, every college student anticipates the moment they will walk across the stage at graduation with a degree to show for their efforts in pursuing a higher education. It’s a Hallmark moment filled with smiling farewells, inspirational speeches, and group pictures to capture that feeling of accomplishment forever. What often gets overlooked in the afterglow of alumnal bliss, however, is the question that lurks in the back of a recent graduate’s mind: what’s next?

There are several paths one can follow after receiving their bachelor’s degree. Some take a year off to embark on a journey of self-discovery (and well-deserved rest) while others prepare to enter a master’s program to further their studies. A majority of graduates prefer jumping straight into the workforce after commencement, but this is often easier said than done.

No matter how helpful it might be, there is no map graduates can follow to find their way to success. (Photo courtesy of Crystal Harrell)

According to a 2014 report published by The New York Federal Reserve Bank, between 30 and 40 percent of college graduates are underemployed. With that being said, finding a job that pertains to a specific major or skill set may not always be possible immediately after graduation, but does that mean pursuing a dream career becomes a lost cause?

One of the most challenging factors of navigating your life course as a young twenty-something is the undeniable fear that comes with expectations. You expect to graduate by this date. You expect to start working at this specific place. You expect everything except the unexpected. Despite the goals you set for yourself, sometimes life’s path veers you towards a different direction. What may follow is an entirely new route taking shape on your road map to success.

If there’s one thing to remember after graduation, it’s how far you have come in the pursuit of a bright future. Be proud of the time you have invested in college and the opportunities it will bring as you broaden your horizons and achieve more independence.

Even if you don’t land that position you had been interviewing for or if your peers have managed to secure jobs in their desired fields before you, never let yourself draw comparisons that could lead to discouragement. Everyone has their own unique journey. Some just have a longer ways to travel than others.

Choosing to travel in a certain direction after graduation can be intimidating. (Photo courtesy of Crystal Harrell)

Another important idea to note is that time may be of the essence, but try not to get ahead of yourself too quickly. Enjoy this moment of confusion, excitement, passion, and impulsiveness because before you know it, you’ll be pining for the days when it felt as though the entire world was at your fingertips.

As this academic quarter ends and you join the graduation march with your classmates, waiting for your name to be called, embrace the feeling of infinite possibility. There will always be a lingering fear that keeps you second-guessing the decisions you make, but trusting yourself and finding the support of loved ones will propel you in the right direction. Not every aspect of our lives is within our control, and that’s what makes overcoming those obstacles all the more special.


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