My path so far has been straight and narrow: preschool led to elementary school, elementary led to high school, high school led to university. The most natural and comfortable next step would be grad school.
But for me, right now, applying to grad school would be no more than a way to defer the challenges of “the real world.” Of course, there would be many benefits if I chose to go to grad school: I could set myself apart from other professionals; I could solidify the skills I developed during undergrad; and as a bonus, I wouldn’t have to start paying back my student loans.
But if I graduated in two years with an MBA or any other kind of graduate degree, I think I’d still be in a very similar position to the one I’m in now.
Here are some of my current “real world” concerns:
- Employers won’t be able to see the unique skills I have to offer. My resumé isn’t good enough.
- There are zillions of more skilled candidates than me. I might not get hired.
- I’m going to spend my whole life paying off student debt.
My ambitious, positive side, however, has made me realize that after two years of grad school all of these concerns would still exist, in some way. Of course, I would have a new line to beef up the education section of my resumé, but I would still be competing with more qualified, experienced job-seekers, and I would have doubled my student debt.
I’m graduating from the journalism program at Carleton University and the job market I’m about to enter is fiercely competitive. Some of my classmates have bulky resumés filled with experience at CTV or the Globe and Mail, and they’re the ones most likely to land traditional reporting jobs. But there are other exciting jobs that they would be far less qualified for than I am.
Yet like me, many of my classmates are anxious about what comes next and eager to jump on the grad school bandwagon. Some will make this decision because they know exactly what they want to do and they’re confident that grad school is the way to get there. Others, however, will enroll mainly to avoid any difficult decision-making.
Entering the job market is intimidating and uncertain. I will spend my entire semester perfecting my resumé, writing cover letters and stressing over interviews. If I put in enough work, however, I’m certain to find amazing opportunities to join companies that will appreciate the skills I do have, rather than focus on what I’m lacking.
That’s the attitude I’ve resolved to adopt during my job hunt. There will be discouraging times, no doubt, but eventually I will find a company that excites me, and they will be impressed by my unique strengths.
Maybe a few years down the road I’ll be ready to advance my training—and maybe grad school will be the way to do it—but for right now, the right place for me is out of the classroom and into a challenging job.