By Julie Pike, Editor-in-Chief
Young adults are expected to make a big decision early on their lives. That million dollar question is, “what are you going to do with your life?”
At 18-years-old, and even now as I approach 22, having a set idea of what I’ll do with the rest of my life is daunting to me.
Young adults face constant pressure of figuring out their future plan. We’re reminded constantly by family and faculty members at school. The focus needs to go from pushing students to figure out their plan quickly, to supporting them while they work to find one.
I want young adults to feel less panicked about their future. It’s okay to not have your plan figured out yet. That’s exactly what these years in our lives are for. College is the time to explore what you enjoy doing. Who cares if you don’t graduate in four years? Everyone has a different timeline, no need to worry about what others are doing or where they are in their lives.
If you don’t figure out what you want to do for a career in college, don’t sweat it. Get a general degree if that feels right to you. Or consider take a break from school, maybe you need that time off to discover more about yourself.
I feel incredibly lucky to have found a passion in journalism. But I also worry that I’ve been so focused on this one field that I haven’t stopped to question if I’m on the right path. I suppose none of us will ever know that until we try. If it turns out I’m unhappy with the choice I made to go into journalism and I switch career paths, I have to be okay with that.
While I do know what field I want to stay in, that’s only a sliver of a plan. I don’t have a job lined up yet, but I didn’t expect to have one too far before graduation. It takes on average six months for recent graduates to find a job. So we need to be realistic and understand that not everything is going to fall into place the minute we receive that diploma.
For those not graduating this spring, start to work on accepting that it’s okay to not have a plan set in place for you. This is where the advice we get all the time comes in, to get involved with something while in school. Whether it be a club, volunteering, a new job or a new hobby, start to explore new things to see what you are interested in. Often just going to classes isn’t going to be enough to help you figure out your passion, it’s what you do outside of class that will help you find that. Make your time at school worthwhile.
It’s also important to remember that you are not alone if you feel like you have no clue what you want to do after college. We’re all going through this life changing portion of our lives. Misery loves company right? Talk to your peers about how they feel going through this time. Talk to people who have a plan. It will help to hear what different options are out there for you.
One incredibly helpful thing I’ve been doing to prepare for my career is informational interviews. These are essentially job interviews in reverse, where you become the interviewer. It involves talking with people in a field or position that you are interested to find more about what they do, what they like or don’t like about their job, and for advice they might have for someone looking to go into that field. These interviews have two benefits, not only do they help you figure out what career would be best suited for you, but they also help you with networking and making connections with professionals.
But first, just breathe. Accept that you don’t have a plan. Panicking over that fact won’t help you get anywhere. Acceptance is the first step towards helping yourself figure out your path in life.