You bettah work! Grad school?
Okay. So you are in your senior year of college, or recently graduated with a year or two of the “real world” under your belt, and your thinking “I have no idea what I want to do with my life”. Option one is to try a couple of jobs, or even careers, on for size to learn more about what is important to you and how you can contribute your skills and talent to the world; or option two…go to grad school.
How the hell is anyone supposed to know what they want to do for the rest of their life so early in their life? Right?! It seems almost impossible.
To me, it all comes down to purpose. What is your purpose? How can you figure out your purpose, when you are just getting to know who you are? How do you get to better understand who you are? By living…by life experiences. I studied acting as an undergrad and I loved it. At the time, I thought it was because I loved to perform. While that was a part of it, the actual reason was because I loved the community, and I learned about myself that being a part of a small, creative, inclusive, and vibrant community was very important to me. It took me my college major, a stint in documentary, living in Chicago and NYC, and a couple of years working in digital media to figure this out…a total of about 5 years (not including college). I learned from those experiences that I loved stories, and getting to know what makes a person tick, and how they set and achieve their goals (I also learned about diversity, and that each culture understands and creates their lives based on their culture…for the most part). Finally, I learned I liked helping people, one-on-one in a coaching/counseling format. This came to light for me as I worked on a documentary about the slave trade and white privileged, where diversity facilitators interacted with the subjects of the film. I saw change happen in the lives of the folks in the film…and I wanted to be able to help others in a similar way. Through all of these experiences I began to understand my purpose, helping people understand and meet their potential, and with that came concrete career options.
In order to transition from a career in media production to a career in career development and higher ed, I had to get my graduate degree. A graduate degree was a necessity. I knew what I wanted to do with my degree, and so I knew how to find the best program, and once in the program, maximize it. Again, this comes down to purpose. Since I knew I wanted to work on a college campus in career development, I focused on getting relevant assistantships and internships that would help me get a job later on. I didn’t spend time floundering and wasting time because I was unsure of what I wanted to do. I saw this floundering in many of my classmates…they came to grad school right after undergrad without really thinking of why. A couple of them came to grad school because they were “not ready for the real world”. Bad idea. To me, grad school is not a place to figure life out, it is a place to make life happen (because you know what you want…you know your purpose).
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you have to know EXACTLY what your purpose in life is to go to grad school…shesh, I’m still figuring a lot of that out (because we are always evolving)…but what I am saying is, don’t go to grad school because you are scared of the unknown or the “real world”, or because you think being in a program will magically tell you who you are and what you should do with your life. I think it is a better idea to save yourself the time and money and let life put some stank on ya as you work for a couple of years, have new experiences, meet new people, etc. I know if I had not had those first few jobs, and lived in those first few cities, and met some incredible people (who became some of my best friends) I would not know so much about myself, and be helping others in a way that is very meaningful to me. So, if you ask me, YOU BETTAH WORK first – ha!