Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

What Do I Want to Do?

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As a recent college graduate, I have been facing many major career questions.  What do I want to do?  Is it ok to get a temporary job?  Is interning worth it?  If I don’t get a job in the field I want now, will I ever?

Frustrated and attempting to avoid the complacency that could keep me living in my parents’ home forever, I sought answers.

Ready, Set, Job Hunt

My friend’s aunt, a career counselor at Hunter College, helped me with my first question – What do I want to do?  I got my BA in Art History, but after graduating I have had little interest in pursuing the career paths traditionally associated with that degree, the world of galleries and museums.  The career counselor’s suggestion to me was to write down my general skills as a worker and thinker, the areas in which I have excelled in past jobs and, finally, general job qualifications/skills I posses. While this exercise does not reveal a career the way a middle school job assessment quiz would (I was supposed to be a fire fighter or a florist), it starts to get you thinking about what assets you have to provide your potential employer.  Additionally, it gives you a personalized list of key words that often appear in the ads you find on job search websites.

Just Say Yes

My mother very quickly provided me the answer to the second question – Is it ok to get a temporary job? Absolutely, if it provides you with the money you need to live, take it.  While it may not move you along the path to your desired career, who can argue with some amount of income?  A friend of mine just took a job at a yoga clothing store, but he hopes to go into consulting in the future. His current job, while not a career, provides him with a schedule and the added benefit of free yoga classes to keep him in a calm state of mind.  For the first time in my life I’m not a student, I don’t have classes and assignments to dictate my life and I need to create my own structure.

To work through the question of interning, I consulted my peers. We unanimously agreed that post-graduation interning is not particularly desirable.  Internships are often aimed at undergrads seeking experience to put on their resumes. The work tends to be menial and unpaid. Not to mention the changes in legislation require many unpaid internships be given   only to students who can receive college credit for their work.  This being said, there are good internships, I have had a few. I appreciated them for giving me a working knowledge of the ins and outs of my potential dream career fields.  While I don’t think internships are really the way to go as a job hunting college grad, if it gets your foot in the door with that company you love, go for it girl!

When Will You Know?

Finally, the question I have ruminated over the most – Do I need to know what I want to do forever now? – or – If don’t get a job in the field I want now, will I ever? These are the sorts of questions that haunt me at night when I’m trying to sleep. It is hard to not get caught up in this train of desperate thinking.  Sometimes all I need to do is remind myself that I am 22 and that the job market won’t be this way forever. Additionally, I have tried to change my thinking regarding this dilemma, considering this hard time as an opportunity to try new and creative ways to find or make jobs. It’s pretty clear that the old system of employment is failing, and doors are open to creative new approaches in job hunting, position creation, and self-promotion.  At the very least this market has allowed me to do work on projects, both collaborative and independent, that I’m committed to and to explore new media, fields, and partnerships without having to worry that my career trajectory is less than traditional.

My concluding thoughts are these: don’t stress, you’re not alone, things will improve, and for now find something that you love and makes your happy regardless of all those futures if’s, or’s and but’s.

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