I Just Graduated, Now What?
This is a question that I have often asked myself and heard from teachers, family, and friends since I graduated in May. After devoting my whole life to school, and with my most recent accomplishment of graduating from a four-year private university on-time, I needed a break from the educational system. Devoting hours to homework, group assignments, and presentations didn’t leave me time to think about the real world, and my role in it. I knew that my time in college was coming to an end and I wanted to be present in the time I had left.
However, since I was a sophomore in college, I knew that I wanted to engage in post-graduate service before the next chapter of “adulting” began. I made it my goal to apply to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps during my senior year in order to have a plan after graduation. After completing the application, participating in Skype and phone interviews, and discerning if this type of service is something I really wanted to commit to as a recent grad, I ultimately said yes. While this may sound like I had a plan for my life after graduation, little did I know that I would have eight months of free time until I would depart for the country I was serving in. This left me feeling like my friends who didn’t have a clear plan or job lined up after graduation.
Graduation day was one of the most memorable days of my life. I was able to walk across the stage with my friends and share my diploma with my family. For me, having a college diploma is more than just a piece of paper. The diploma proves to my parents that their hard work and sacrifice were worth it. It also proves to my younger siblings that they can succeed in college. As a first-generation college student, my college experience is something that I wanted to share with my family, and graduation was the culminating moment.
After walking across the stage and being congratulated from my friends and family, I did what any college grad would do — I took some much needed time to myself. During this time I balanced applying for jobs, spending time with my friends, and going on graduation trips. I must have applied to at least twenty-five jobs and only received a positive response from one. Going into the job process I thought that my degree would be enough to get a job in my field, yet there were other requirements that I did not have because during college I was so focused on being a student. My degree also made me more prideful than I already am, so I only applied to jobs that related to my major. This definitely limited my job pool, but ultimately made me happy because I am doing something that I had worked so hard for during my four years of college.
Receiving that one yes reminded me that it’s okay to be picky when it comes to the jobs I want to do because it’s my life, and ultimately my choice with what I want to do with it. This is a privilege that I am lucky to have, and do not take it lightly. During the time since graduation I have had the unconditional support from my family as I received a string of no’s from employers. I am lucky to have them because they have never pressured me to get a job I didn’t want because I needed the money. This is a privilege I know that not everyone in our society has, so I make sure to use my privilege to benefit the people my job serves. Being aware of my privilege puts my life in a new perspective. My degree put me in a new class that has different privileges than I grew up with. Now I have a responsibility to act with care, gratefulness, and humility in the world.