The Shock of Graduation
The Shock of Graduation

The stark reality begins to set in as we complete our academic careers; we no longer pay for a spot to be in; we are looking to get paid to be there.

For many of us, the prospects of leaving behind the stressful environment of final exams, research reports and assignment deadlines are looked upon fondly. But for those living this reality rather than wishing for it to come faster, it’s scary to think about what’s next. So long are the days when we paid to be somewhere and therefore commanded agency when deciding how and when to complete our education. Now it’s time to think about who finds us good enough to be paid. Allow the panic to set in.

For some, the road towards a career looks long, foreboding and full of fast-moving traffic—how do we wiggle our way in? We were so used to walking the sidelines of the road as “students”; careers and bosses were a daydream away. But now, the vision has become a reality that plagues the minds of thousands of recent graduates.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve seemingly come to a block in the road. Not only because there doesn’t seem to be a call for your educational credentials out there, but additionally because you have no idea how to sell yourself.

Begin by fostering your talents and interests. Yes, it sounds shallow and romantic, but realistically, you’re going to be working for at least another forty years of your life—make it worth your while. Sometimes we concentrate far too much on what others expect of us or what jobs are out there. From my experiences, you need to learn how to create a space for yourself.

If I have learned anything from my education, it’s how to articulate myself in a way that commands people to listen to what I have to say. Many students fail to conceptualize and utilize the transferrable skills they are given in school. When we begin to look for a place in the workforce, the most important thing to remember is how we have benefited from our experiences in school, not how many things we’ve memorized or recited through testing. If you permit yourself to sit behind and truly absorb all you’ve learned in school, what are you most apt to remember? Indeed not a list of specific facts and figures from the towers of textbooks you’ve had to purchase and read over the last four or five years. Certainly not the answers you gave on a final exam you wrote in the first year of your undergrad.

What you will remember, I assure you, is how you grew as a person. You entered school as a young adult not so confident in your abilities to be an expert on any such topic. You will leave school feeling the same way, but you will now embody the completion of a milestone—attaining a goal. And really, that’s what an education is all about.

To offer a brief example, having completed a course in Current Research, I was invited to choose a topic of my interests and report back with my findings.

I nurtured my writing and communication skills and taught myself other valued skills in the workforce, such as interviewing skills, analysis skills, and data compilation skills. Not only was the realization that I had these skills priceless, but being allowed to use them far outweighed the actual context through which I was learning.

So moving forth with your job search, keep in mind the assets you offer a prospective employer: yourself. The experience of education goes leaps and bounds further than its context.

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