“When are you getting a real job?”

Ciara Serpa, Advertising Manager

Anyone who has attended college is familiar with the popular question, “So, when are you getting a real job?” Most of us tend to feel that no matter what we accomplish during our academic career or how noble our ambitions are, our family, friends and even professors only care about when we will become “real” adults. We also recognize that when they refer to a real job, they mean a traditional 9-5 position, preferably behind a desk or crunching six-figure numbers. What they fail to understand is that all employment, research, graduate school, retail and even consulting is all valid work.  

Because of this lack of understanding, it is important for us as students to validate ourselves and to be able to express that to others when they ask what our future holds. Our present and past accomplishments are just as, if not more, important as our future ones. Your Honors thesis, years-long research project, capstone paper and presentation at Scholar’s Day are all proof that even if you don’t immediately find work after undergrad, you will still prevail and can have an impressive future.  

If you, like countless others, are afraid of what the future holds, then consider other options such as professional tutoring, working on other certifications from reputable institutions and exploring other career paths. You may find more comfort in a position like consulting or contracting, which offers flexibility and the ability to travel. Tutoring in a subject that you excel at can remind you why you have a passion for that subject in the first place. I tutor various students (mostly reading comprehension in elementary and middle school students) and can’t even describe the feeling I get when my students are excited to read our book or complete our weekly exercises. Even parents are excited to see the change and confidence that their children feel after working with a tutor.  

Another option that you may have already considered is graduate school. Now, it is important to note that this is obviously easier said than done and can pose major financial hurdles for students. However, you can always complete this in the future and research your best options for financing. If you feel that you need more training oreducation or have a passion for your subject matter, then consider pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree. Many PhD programs can be completed without a master’s (as you obtain the necessary credits along the way) and are fully financed by the institution. This is also a valid career path! We wouldn’t be able to obtain our own degrees without our professors and advisors, many of whom havePhDs or a master’s degree. You may be the next professor, advisor or even dean of a university. It can be helpful to analyze every career that you interact with daily and see if they fit your current objectives: barista at a coffee shop, manager at a Target, bank teller and many more.  

Remember, very few people become millionaires right out of undergrad, and everyone must start somewhere. No one is “too good” for a job, because we all rely on those jobs in some aspect of our lives. Most importantly, follow your passions and what your heart tells you to do because if you work in a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.