The question every non-college student loves to ask and the one question everyone who still in college loves to avoid. I cannot count the number of times I have been asked this question whether it is by inquisitive grandparents, aunts, and uncles at family holiday get-together’s, by curious co-workers and supervisors at my workplaces and internships, or even by the dental hygienist at my annual cleaning. I just cannot seem to escape it.
Even though I have a pretty good idea of my next step after I have to say goodbye to the place I have called home for the past four years, an entire year leaves a lot of room for things to change, and having to spell out my future plans in a casual conversation has proven to be challenging and nerve-wracking.
My whole academic career I have been all about planning ahead. I knew exactly where I was going to live coming in as a first year student, had my major and all my classes picked out, and have oftentimes found myself rigidly sticking to something for fear of deviating from “the plan.” This over-planning has at times been extremely useful, but at others has been my downfall. It took me awhile to realize that being able to be flexible and open as well as structured and organized is the key to my success.
Looking forward in the next year, I am generally positive about entering into the real world, even despite the many daunting statistics telling me the current status of the economy and that I won’t get a job after I graduate. Maybe I am naïve, but UMass Amherst has presented me with many opportunities—like internships in my field of study, conducting research as an undergraduate, and professional development experiences such as presenting at the Undergraduate Research Conference and writing an Honors Thesis—that have provided me with important skills and knowledge that have set me on my future path.
Even still I sometimes feel the apprehension and anxiety at the thought of having to move on to the post-college, UMass Amherst alumni phase of my life. Fortunately I have an entire year to continue to learn and reach for more opportunities that will bring me closer to both my academic and career goals.
While I still may not have my answer to the post-graduation question spelled out, I am eager to spend my senior year searching for the answer.