I'm in School, and I think I know what I'm doing... Wait... I have to start thinking about the real world?!

Hello! Sorry I've been absent from the blog-o-sphere for a while, and for the obnoxiously long title. It's been an incredibly busy semester (note to self, unless you are a spanish major, do not, I repeat, DO NOT take more than one spanish class a semester). I got the awesomely sweet good news that I will graduate early! Yay! One less semester to pay for! That's super exciting!

Until you realize you have no idea what you're going to do when you leave. That is scary. The way I see it, there are 3 options after graduating.

  1. Get Married, Have Kids, Start a Family: Option for some people, but if you're like me, you kind of want to get a job and pay back the money you owe for school. (Also the idea of being responsible for another life form scares you)
  2. Get a Job: Yes, this is the resonable and most popular option once you leave for school. Make some money, pay back your loans, and move out of mom and dad's basement (because you couldn't afford rent until you paid off college).
  3. Stay in School: Haha! You've beaten the real world at their own game. You will not join the rest of the masses working 9 to 5 until you have one or more degrees more. Or, you may just win the game and end up a professor and never have to leave college.

Cool, 3 options... sweet, now there are 2 problems that come with these options

  1. You have to actually decide what you want to do for the rest of your life (I've decided never to grow up and be Peter Pan)
  2. You have to land a job, a spot in grad school, or have a significant other to take part in one of the 3 options (and as Peter Pan, I've found a way out of all of this)

So I'm not actually going to become Peter Pan (though that would be pretty awesome). I have spent the past semester deciding what to do when I graduate a year from now. Here are some hints and steps to decide what your post college plans are...

  • Step 1 (Do you still like school?): If you answered no, a job may be the right place for you (Read Step 2a). If you like school, grad school may be the right option for you (Read Step 2b).
  • Step 2a (What do you want to do for a job?): This is a terrible question, but we have to ask it anyways... what do you like to do, what can you make a living doing (Step 3a)? If you want to be a doctor, lawyer, veternarian, or anything fancy like that, hope you are okay with more school, cause you probably need another degree (Step 3c).
  • Step 2b (What do you want to study?): Cool, you like school. Now grad school, so what do you want to study? Topics get more narrow, so you can choose something that fits you exactly (Step 3b)
  • Step 3a (What do you want in a job): So you're ready for your first big kid job. Awesome. Next part is deciding either where you want to work or where you want to live. Is there a specific company you want to work for? A specific work atmosphere? A specific place you want to live? Take some time to reflect on what you want out of this job (Step 4a).
  • Step 3b (What is your end goal?): Take a bit of time to reflect on what you want out of your time in grad school. Are you going with a specific career in mind? Do you like a specific type of learning or program? (Step 4b)
  • Step 3c (Some bad news): So you want to be a doctor or lawyer or other fancy career, that's awesome! Here's the bad news, you have to figure out how to like school because you need a new career path if you can't get over the extra time in school. (Go back to Step 1 when you figure it out and try again)
  • Step 4a (Find and Apply for Jobs): You know where you want to work, or where you want to be, awesome! Now, make a plan of attack. If you have a summer or two before you graduate, take internships that get you into the industry or company you want to end up in. If not, find out what jobs are open that fit your ideal job description. Either way, start writing your cover letters and polishing your resume. Make any adjustments you need in your senior schedule to make sure you land where you want to after graduation!
  • Step 4b (Find and Apply to schools): Start researching schools that you fit well with. Create a plan of action, include your test dates, campus visits, application due dates, and maybe some face time with the administration there. Know what you have to do to get in, and adjust your current track to make it there.
  • Step 5 (Work Hard!): No matter where you want to end up, don't forget to work hard for it. Grad schools and employers want someone who knows the value of hard work. Also, if you don't put in the work, you'll regret not putting in the time later.

Cool, so if you're like me and both tracks sound awesome, you're in a tough spot. But good news! You don't have to choose job or grad school! There are ways to combine the two!!!!

Explore your options. My end goal is an awesome job and getting into an MBA program. Yeah, that's a lofty goal, but it's do-able. Grad school isn't like undergrad, you can go part time while working, or even on weekends (if you are willing to give that up). This allows you to work and get the degree you want.

Preparation for that kind of path includes tests, internships, grad school apps, job interviews, and a lot of research. For me, it was easiest to start with an area I want to live in (I'm from Chicago, so in an effort to cut expenses, my parents are so lucky to have me moving back!). I've researched grad programs and jobs in Chicago. Luckily, I've found some good matches for what I want in a program and in a job, but the main idea is I'm actively working for my future.

Remember, the future is what you make of it, and your future starts here and now, while you're at IU. Be proactive, and ambitious. Those two have never been bad qualities no matter what you want to do!

About The Author
Devyn ManschotArts Management, 2013, Chicago IL

I'm Devyn Manschot, Arts Management Class of 2013 (graduating early! yipee!). Originally from the Chicago area, I've been involved all over campus, from the Hutton Honors college to the Ballroom Dance Club. I love to dance and have a strange affinity for accounting.