School’s out… Forever?

graduation

Ever since I was in kindergarten, I have loved school. I still remember my junior kindergarten orientation. I enjoyed the academic aspect of school, but mostly I looked forward to the structure and purpose it gave me. The four schools I have attended in my 21 years have all given me the opportunity to discover what I was passionate about, what I didn’t enjoy and what kind of person I wanted to be. These experiences were more frequent and also more significant during my undergraduate studies at Brock University. Now my identity depends on what I have accomplished and what I continue to accomplish on campus and in the Niagara community.

During the last winter break, I felt weird. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, until I realized that my graduation  was coming up in June. For all of the “senior” students: we are facing, for the first time in our lives, a moment in which we aren’t expected to continue down a particular path. We went from elementary school to high school, and then high school to post-secondary. Now there are  many different and interesting options that are making this a very exciting time in our lives. But will that make it any easier?

When I tell people I’m in my final year of university, they’ll ask me what I’m doing afterward. Thankfully, I can give them a rough estimate of my plans. But deep down, I don’t  know if any of that will  happen.

February is right around the corner and with it comes the deadline for many applications to post-graduate programs. There are also job applications to write. Will you end up in Toronto, Ottawa, or Niagara? Will you move back to your hometown or continue living on your own? Will you stay close to all of your friends or have to make new ones? I know it seems like there are a lot of choices to make, but it’s important to understand how these choices impact our mental state and identity (I highly recommend the book Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz to all graduates).

I don’t want to leave you hanging with all these scary thoughts, so I have some advice to offer.

Number one: only you can get yourself your dream job or apply to a post-grad program. If you’ve sat on your butt for the past four years, it will show on your resume and applications, your professors, academic advisors, friends or parents will not come to your rescue. However, it’s not too late to change that. No matter what kind of university experience you’ve had at Brock, there are always opportunities to improve yourself professionally and personally through getting involved on campus and in the community, even if it’s during your last couple of months at school.

Number two: brand yourself. Identity is a very complex idea, but once I began this process of “branding” myself, I felt like I defined myself before an employer or recruiter could do it for me.

Number three: The most cliché of them all is that hard work really does pay off in the long run. I can promise you that all of the 12-hour days you’ve put in or all of the sleepless nights will be rewarded. From first hand experience, it will  all be worth it.

I’ll keep my eye out for all of the “I got a job” and “I got into post-grad” Facebook posts. See you at
Convocation!

 

-Madi Fuller, Contributor

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