By Sara Blank,
Opinions & Editorials Editor
As a senior rounding out my last month or so of college, I’ve been getting the ever-dreaded question recently. It goes the same every time: I’ll be engaging in a conversation, oftentimes with an adult or an older person; a suspicious beat in the conversation will arise as the other person contemplates whether or not it is appropriate to ask me “the question,” and then they go for it: “Do you have any plans for next year?” Inevitably, the other person cringes as if they’ve accidentally just stabbed me in the chest and braces for the worst.
The only thing is, I really don’t mind this question! I know that sounds like a defense mechanism or as though I’m trying to assuage the fears of adults who want to ask us about the future. The actuality of why this question is a good point of discussion is actually a lot more complicated than that — and 100 percent cheesier than what you may be expecting.
Here’s the truth: us (seniors) not having jobs / getting into schools by the time graduation days rolls around is an extremely real and terrifying possibility. But the fact of the matter is that during my time at F&M, I have realized something very important: going to a small, liberal arts school that emphasizes activeness and pro-activeness does not make me qualified for a job. It makes me qualified for many jobs. Learning to extemporaneously ask questions after a particularly provocative Common Hour, or allowing myself to be absorbed into the poetry of an author I’ve never read during an event at the Writers House — these are important life skills. Learning how to function in a community and realizing that every move you make may affect how people perceive you — this is a valuable truth in life. Being so busy that sleep or downtime are constantly nothing more than a possibility at the end of a treacherous journey gives us a work ethic that can’t be matched, and an unbeatable level of dedication. At the fourth most rigorous school we learn to value the little things, such as professors delivering us with a bit of praise or finally finishing a project we’ve been working on for two weeks. In these ways, F&M has prepared me for anything a job may be able to throw at me — and much more.
Now, all I can do at this point is really sit back and hope that a future employer is not reading this with a raised brow that says, “What a cocky individual.” Instead, I hope that this message of confidence and coolness is transferred to my fellow job-searching readers. With an impressive repertoire of majors under our belt we are prepared; but with the knowledge that we have used our time at F&M to develop into well-rounded and interesting individuals, we should know that we will be able to find the place for us.
For these reasons, it’s extremely important for superiors to ask us questions about what we’re interested in doing next year. We should be able to express a plethora of opportunities that we’re interested in pursuing. We should be excited to think about all of the prospects that are available to us as a result of the education we’ve experience, and we should realize that we should not be terrified to talk about all of the different options.
Yes, we are in a terrible job market, and moving back in with our parents for a few months may sound worse than only eating Dini’s for the rest of your life (not you, Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this…just some students in general). But floundering for a moment may be the best way to assure that when we do accept a job, we will be so grateful to put the tools we’ve harnessed to use and rise up the success ladder at a rapid pace. Perhaps we are not like our parents’ generations where one could choose an occupational destination and pursue it immediately — but perhaps that makes us lucky to have a broader horizon and so many different possibilities to pursue.
Along with this message to fellow students, I also want to tell professors and other older members of the community: do not be afraid to ask us this dreaded question. It is important for us to talk about the future, and begin to solidify our aspirations. If we pigeonhole ourselves to one school, one profession, or one field, we are degrading the experience that we have had at F&M. And to those of you who know what you’re doing next year, congratulations! Now, help the rest of us out.
Sara Blank is a senior English major, and is the Opinion & Editorial editor for The College Reporter. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org