The Post Grad Identity

Photo Credit: eHow

Fact 1: It’s the twelfth day in 2010.

Fact 2: The Class of 2009 graduated in May (semester system) and June (quarter system).

Conclusion: It’s been 5 or 6 months since you graduated.

On the day of your graduation, you are hopeful of the future, of opportunities coming your way. After all, that’s what all those graduation speeches are for–to pump you up. That’s because those that have walked before us know that the real world isn’t as idealistic as your college one. You wake up the next morning and begin thinking: God, I am actually done. I don’t have to wake up and class.  This is great! Oh God, I got to find a job. I got to work off my debt. This is not so great! Oh God, oh God. What have you been doing since that day? Yes, let’s freak out together.

After graduation, there are many routes to take. There are 3 parts to this Post Grad identity; am I missing any?:

1. Go immediately for your Master’s or Ph.D. or Law School or Med School. This might be the most common pathway undergrads choose. The process usually starts around your second year of undergrad, as you secure letters of recommendation from professors or internships. You want to visit your professors during their hours and to make sure that they know exactly who you are. Study about your professors beforehand, read up on their research, then show up to their office with confidence.

You also want to work on your Curriculum Vitae (CV), which is essentially a resume for academic purposes. When I mean academic, I mean any research positions you’ve had, any research papers you’ve done, any research you’ve presented–the key is research. You may also want to put in any symposium or academic talks you’ve attended.

Also, research on potential Grad Schools. Look at their programs. Does it fit with you and what you want to research? Do they have fellowships? Do they give out  loads of money for your research? What about the professors? Are there any you desperately want to work with and learn from? You may want to visit the campus because if you’ll be spending 2 to 7 years at that school, you should like attending it.

Around the later half of your third year, you should study your butt off for the GREs, LSATs, MCATs, GMATs and then actually take them.  If you don’t like your score, this gives you enough time to study, take it again, and redeem yourself. Then, when the applications for Grad School are due as early as October, you are ready!

Then, your rejection or acceptance letters come in, and by the time you wear that cap and gown, you know you have a secure future–a spot at whatever prestigious university you’ve chosen and accepted you.

2. Taking a break…for a year…or two! I’ve spoken with about twenty graduate students and post-doctoral candidates, and most of them say that taking a break is important. *Gasps* A break? That puts me behind my cohorts. They say you’ll thank yourself in the end. You may need that time to “find” yourself after being in school for so long. After all, if you want to get your MA or Ph.D, that’s MORE years at school and DECREASES your “you” time. That means no breaks from here on out because after your get those degrees, there’s work, more work, and perhaps starting a family.

And of course, there’s also that slight chance that you don’t see yourself in the future doing what you got your BA or BS in or want to postpone that dream. For example, let’s say you got your degree in Psychology and Sociology. And as you take your much-needed break, you realize maybe Nursing is a better a life choice for now.

You may also want to use your break to explore the world. If you didn’t use opportunities to study abroad, you now have the time to go to places you could only dream of visiting. You may not get the chance once you start Grad School or when family life takes over, although you may get that chance to travel to an exotic place for your honeymoon. *Wink, wink*

You can also use your break-time to add experience to your CV/Resume. You may decide working at a place that relates to your intended Grad School major.

OR, you may need that break to get a job, save up, and work off that undergraduate debt. If you are trying to get a job, good luck. Apparently, it’s harder than getting into Harvard.

3. No Grad School for me…a BA/BS is enough, and I’m going to just work thank you. Some people’s goals is reaching a BA/BS. That’s fine. You did it. You’re done. Congratulations.

Now, remember when I said “Yes, let’s freak out together?” That’s probably because I’m the guy who is doing something unconventional. During my “break,” I’m going back to school to take my nursing prerequisites so I can apply for Nursing school, whereas most psychology graduates are in Grad School right now. You need to follow your own path–the one that works for you. But lucky for us, there are people out there who want to help you as you experience your post grad identity.

The people of The Post Grad blog are there to lend a helping hand and give some friendly advice. They’ve walked in your shoes and want to ease your anxieties of this new identity you’ve achieved (a Sociology reference for you Sociology majors).  If you’re experiencing a quarter-life crisis, or trying to find a career path, The Post Grad is there for you. If you’re taking a break, you should keep your mind sharp. And as for me? Let’s just say that I need to shed some of that undergraduate fat I’ve accumulated. This post grad body of mine needs to stay fit.

So head over to The Post Grad site, and tell them Gio sent you (I’m a huge fan of theirs). And embrace your Post Grad identity. Oh, and congratulations on graduating!

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26 Comments

Filed under College, Issues/Causes, Life

26 responses to “The Post Grad Identity

  1. Mike Arnold

    I think that one needs to travel after graduation. Meeting new people is essential for any profession.

  2. nice article.
    and yes there are many ways ahead and also some confusions.
    thanks for sharing.

  3. tough decisions, lots of options is a good problem to have though.

  4. These are all really great plans and options. I cannot agree more with taking a break before going to Grad school! I was set in one major (a compliment to my undergrad degree) for my Masters but knew I wanted time off to live on my own and live in different parts of the country and now I find myself applying for grad school in a field I didn’t ever see myself in before. It’s funny what a little taste of the real world will do to your dreams – they don’t crush them but they enhance them and make your priorities, focus and drive slightly different. I couldn’t be happier, and it may not be for everyone but I’m so thankful I had a year off to find myself and explore my talents and passions more thoroughly before jumping into another school program!

    • Gio

      Wow, what places have you lived? I’m trying to see myself somewhere out of Los Angeles, but I haven’t traveled much. I’ve been to Hawaii, Nevada, Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York–I just don’t see myself living anywhere else, but LA.

  5. Great article. My entire blog is based on this point of limbo in every college graduate’s life, that “Now what?” feeling. It’s still in its infancy, but feel free to check it out, I’m hoping it could eventually become a resource for people just coming out of college, and your post fits in with that purpose incredibly well.

    The other suggestion I would have is to talk to people in the field of business you are thinking about entering. Maybe it’s totally different from what you think, or maybe not. If you don’t know what field you want to go into, talk to people in a lot of different areas. Talk to your parents, see if they have friends you can talk to, and most people don’t have too big of a problem talking about themselves or what they do.

    • Gio

      Thanks Danny, that’s great advice for all us post grads who are postponing Grad school for a couple years.

    • If you don’t know what field you want to go into, talk to people in a lot of different areas.

      One of my former professors told me, “If you can’t be fair, be arbitrary.”

      If one is so ambivalent or indifferent to a set of options, then just pick one…it doesn’t matter which one.

  6. I think with the recent economic trend, it’s rough to be a college grad. I envy those who are just starting college because they’ll be a little bit less troubled than I when I finished my master’s during the worst time possible. But in the end, we’re all in this together and if we’re all struggling, then the world acknowledges it. Post grad. It’s a bittersweet thing. Growing up isn’t always easy, right? 🙂

  7. There are a couple smart people who didn’t go to college. Henry Ford (Ford Motors), Milton Hershey (Hershey’s Chocolate), Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple), Michael Dell (Dell), Mark Zuckenberg (Facebook), and even Rachael Ray.

    A college degree is not necessary for a person to live self-sufficiently and securely, but there’s also a generational component, wouldn’t you say? Society was more likely to give a confident, hardworking person, well or ill-schooled, a chance a few decades ago than it would now. A young man in the first half of the 20th century could be an apprentice in many industries. Now? One must have a high school degree or equivalent to get any job.

    What is it that they say? Having a hs or undergraduate degree just proves that you did it. You were able to do it.

  8. Number one was my immediate response… I knew I had to go back to school… I’m glad I did, but debt is racking up tremendously! I graduated in 2002 and still in school until 2011 (I’m getting my Doctorate)… In the end, I think it’s all well worth it!

  9. Well… if you’re one of those people who don’t want to take a year off, didn’t plan for masters, and can’t find work, there’s one final option:

    Delay graduation.

    I know lots of people who have done this to add on a major/minor and work part time in academic internships so that they can get the work insurance through the school and be eligible for jobs, gaining more work experience so that when they do graduate, they’re a more appealing candidate.

  10. Gio

    I understand the choices you face as I’ve been there many years ago. Although the economic climate wasn’t as difficult as it is now, I can offer this insight from my own experience. When I graduated college I didn’t want to go to graduate school for education. I earn my Bachelor’s in applied mathematics and really didn’t want to teach. I entered the world of business and really enjoyed working. I had to start paying back my loans and didn’t want to incur anymore without a definite job in sight. So working was just fine and I promised myself I’d only go back to graduate school if my job required the advanced degree. I’d also consider maybe working for a little while just trying to figure out what your next steps will be. At least that way you’re not without money and you can see what options are available to you. Lastly, I would suggest that after the arduous road taken to get your Bachelor’s Degree if you go back to school for your Master’s 1. Have a definite goal in sight and 2. Go back to study something you enjoy. Best Wishes

    • Gio

      Thanks!
      “I had to start paying back my loans and didn’t want to incur anymore without a definite job in sight. ” That’s great advice. Paying off debt before you rack up more. Glad to hear that it’s possible to do what I love.

  11. Sarah

    I enjoyed reading this post. I graduated in May and (shock) am still unemployed. Fortunately I fit into the second group where I plan to travel and I am leaving for the Peace Corps in 3 weeks.
    After that, who knows. I totally sympathize with those trying to get jobs right now. At least we’re all in the same boat together…. right?

    • Gio

      Wow, the Peace Corps? That’s amazing. What country have you been assigned, or do you get to choose? Are you planning on making a trip to Haiti to join with the other Americans heading there to help out with the relief effort?

  12. Jim Hagen

    As you probably know, people blog on WordPress from all over the world. You might want to ask yourselves how you sound to the rest of the world. About 99% of the people out here would gladly exchange their problems for yours.

    • Gio

      Thank you. Thank you for bringing things into perspective. There are a lot of other problems going on right now in the rest of the world.

      But I originally wrote this entry for my younger “siblings” and not for anyone else. I guess it also only applies to those attending or want to attend an American university.

  13. Wow. This post has definitely been popular! Well, the word “unpopular” also comes to mind, since some previous comments seem biased and only aimed at criticism. I applaud you for being considerate to those people, because I know I wouldn’t have behaved similarly.

    I happen to be one of those “lucky” college freshmen, so it’s true that I have much less worries than current post-grads. But I think this post does a good job of preparing me for the future, so thank you. Though I have my future somewhat planned out (and we’ll see how well that goes), it’s nice to know that I have options when something falls through.

    • Gio

      “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

      I accept criticisms–constructive ones. When people offer them, that means they care enough about you to let you know–they want to see you grow. And I want to grow. I’m short.

  14. It’s very common in other countries to do some hardcore traveling before you figure out the next step.
    I’ve been backpacking over 3 continents and most of the people I met just graduated. (Not many americans though…)

    Honestly…talk to the oldest people you can find about this and they will tell you what to do. Anyone else is living in the now.

    Phil Tyler says good look.

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