Graduation approaches. The moment you have been waiting for the last four (or five, or six) years is here, and now everyone’s eyes are set on you. The dreadful question keeps coming up in all conversations: “So, what are you doing after college?” Your immediate answer is either “Get a job” or “Go to grad school,” because you really have absolutely no idea and there are so many things out of your control at this point.
Most people start going to school at five years old. If you’re lucky enough to go straight from high school to college, or all the way to grad school, you have been studying nonstop for at least 15 years, practically all of your life. There’s a feeling of bliss in the knowing that you’re actually finished, not for the year, not for the semester, but for life. You are now an “educated” American ready to start “real life”.
A couple of weeks after graduating, when the bliss has passed, you’ll realize that “real life” (referring to life outside of school) is not all that fancy. Actually, it’s kind of depressing. First you have to restructure your life. Without the stability school provides, life may seem like a big void. We have lots of time on our hands and it is up to ourselves to find something useful and productive to do with it.
Second, you must land the dream job (that’s why you went to school right?). However, in today’s economy, having a college degree does not guarantee a job. In fact, there are many college graduates (about 50 percent) who are currently working jobs that do not require a degree. The worse part is, though the number of out-of-work graduates may seem high, it is actually an improvement from the statistics of the last couple of years. The fact is unless you did multiple internships in your field or have some sort of contact in the business, you most likely do not have a job.
So, now that you don’t have school, you don’t have a job and you’re probably living with your mom: what are you supposed to do! This is when the figuring out figures in. Not figuring out what you want to do with your life, but figuring out what you’re going to do with your life.
This moment in time may be more significant for you as a person than all those years of acquiring knowledge. It gives you an opportunity to really know yourself and exploit your resources. You’ll realize that the important things you learned in college did not happen in the classroom. The skills you’ll use the most are those you developed struggling through, like time management, multitasking, effective communication, team work, and problem solving. Be flexible in your job search and keep your mind open to all opportunities.
Embrace this chance to re-discover yourself. Celebrate your accomplishments knowing that it’s not only for you but for the entire Latino community that you must get passed this time of struggling to become a successful American.
Welcome to the Real Life, where we plant eagerly and harvest patiently.