What Can I Do After Graduation (Besides Get a Job)?

College graduation is a big moment in anybody’s life. However, time spent planning and time spent worrying about what comes after can be stressful.

On Feb. 24, Patricia Moran, Director of Career Replacement, Professor Brent Little, Annie Wendel, Valerie Kisselback, Linh Nguyen, and senior Jenna Calabrese were part of a Colloquium called “What Can I Do After Graduation (Besides Get A Job)” to help guide students who feel they might not be ready to go straight into graduate school.

The panelists shared their experience on why you might take a year to try service for others, some of the benefits that it can bring, and why you shouldn’t worry if you are in a spot like this and need some time to develop yourself.

“I felt like I had a lot of passion but I didn’t know where to channel it, and I just really wanted a lot more formation,” said Nguyen. “I felt like no matter what it is that I wanted to do in life, I needed to learn and to grow a lot more on a personal level and a professional level before I felt like I was ready to make meaningful contributions in the world.”

Getting to discover things about yourself is not the only point that was made to show how traveling and doing service can help someone find what they should be doing.

Having the chance to absorb another culture and give yourself to the aid of other people in any way you can could lead to some form of growth.

“Traveling abroad changes your perspective not only about the world, but about yourself and your own culture. We often have assumptions that go unrecognized just because we’ve never experienced anything different,” said Little. “Traveling abroad can help you uncover and challenge those assumptions, and hopefully realize how other cultures do some things better than we do.”

Seeing that things could change in your culture isn’t the only thing that doing service for others and traveling abroad can do for you as a person.

“Service requires the skill of adapting to a different environment than you are used to. It often also makes you think differently about relationships,” said Little. “These kinds of people skills are invaluable for any career or profession.”

The panelists also gave advice on how to decide what service you should do, and Kisselback described her experience and what led her to her decision.

“Some questions for discerning a path in general that I find helpful are, ‘does it bring you joy, are you good at it, and does the world need it,’” said Kisselback.

Dedicating all this time to doing service and living a life so different to the one you are used to can be challenging at times, and another one of the panelists, Wendel, gave advice on what things you should avoid and how you can stay strong and push forward.

“It’s easy to compare yourself to others and get caught up in what you ‘should’ be doing, especially being so immersed in social media. We’re conditioned to graduate and immediately want to find the ‘dream job’, said Wendel. “However not everyone’s career follows the same track and you should be comfortable exploring different options.”

The colloquium resonated with students, like Calabrese, who are looking to take part in this journey of service.

“Studying within the College of Health Professions, the common path after graduation often involves some sort of advanced degree or grad school,” said Calabrese. “I felt pressured, especially being a strong student, to stick to the common path many people were telling me I had to pursue.”

Calabrese also talked about how she felt the panelists did well in not only describing what opportunities of service there are, but how they are connected and the importance of research when looking for something to do.

“If I could give any advice to a student discerning what to do after graduation it would be to know yourself,” said Calabrese. “Knowing yourself does not mean you need to understand exactly what you want to do or explore. Rather, become aware of the people, coursework, and the experiential learning opportunities you have encountered, or wish to try, at SHU. Being honest with yourself may lead you in a direction completely different from where you thought you may end up. It is in the adventure, however that your true self will shine.”

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