Dear Sarah Von,
Short Answer: you won’t wake up one day with all of the answers. Nobody knows 100% what they’re doing. Even if it seems like they do, they don’t. And that’s okay.
Your degree does not determine your life or your job
a) can write papers and make supporting arguments
b) are responsible enough to start and finish four years of educationI know some very successful people who didn’t finish their bachelor’s degree. I know a million people who are not working in the fields they went to school for. Really, I know approximately 10 people whose jobs are vaguely related to their bachelor’s degrees. My cousin has a degree in philosophy and works at a bank. One of my best friends has a degree in political science and works in marketing. Another friend has an MA in theater and does real estate evaluations. Working in the field you went to school in is practically the exception rather than the rule!
More than your degree, your work experience, personality, connections and work ethic will help you find a job. If you’ve got a few good internships, knowledge of the appropriate software, a friendly demeanor and a buddy in the company, it probably won’t matter if your degree is in underwater basket weaving – you’ll be in.
You will find a job you like. Eventually.
It would be totally, totally awesome if you landed a job making $37,000 a year doing PR for the Red Cross right out of college.
This probably won’t happen.
But you can make it more significantly more likely! See if your school can hook you up with a pertinent internship. If they can’t, take a little initiative. I got my first job out of school by literally typing the word ‘creative’ into switchboard.com and calling every company listed and asking if they had internships. Find out what software people in your field use and learn it on your own. Find pertinent volunteer opportunities. Call people who have the type of job you want and see if you can job-shadow them or do an informational interview.
Even if you do all of these things you might end of taking an unpaid internship in your field and waiting tables. You might become a personal assistant for someone in your field. You might land your dream job and discover that it’s totally not your bag.
Finding a career that you really love and working your way up that ladder is a slow process. I interned and worked in PR/marketing/event planning/journalism for several (misguided) years before I succumbed to my genetic destiny of teaching. Now I have a job that I lovelovelove; it has taken me four different teaching jobs to get here.
I think it’s important to realize that no job is a total waste of your time, especially if it’s in the field that you know you want to work in. You can always learn new skills, network and volunteer to be on committees.
If you want to work at a non-profit or teach at a charter school or travel the world, you’ll need to be careful with your money. But here’s the thing about money: if you’re careful, you probably need less than you think you do.
P.S. If you’re having a quarter life crisis and need a bit of help, I made something just for you.
photo by Robertina Jeno // cc