One of the biggest challenges I faced during my senior year of college was the need to make a decision and choose a path. Despite what ‘they say’ about English majors on the job market, my problem was not too few possibilities but rather too many.
Leery of committing too early, and unsure of whether I was cut out for teaching, I turned down an offer from Teach for America to teach high school English in the inner city. And then it was back to the hustle: researching possible career paths, applying for jobs, reaching out to my extended network of family and friends, and so on.
When I still didn’t have a job lined up after graduation, I began to get a bit worried. I considered going back to graduate school for technical writing or speech-language pathology. But I was cognizant of the cost, and I still didn’t know what I should do with my life.
After another summer of wilderness camp counseling, an application to Barnes & Noble that disappeared down a black hole, and a couple of interviews without call-backs, I finally landed a ‘dream job’ as an Editorial Assistant at a major publishing company in the New York City area.
My co-workers were smart and funny and kind. And the company generously invested in its junior employees: I was able to get exposure to many different aspects of the publishing world, from marketing to production design, and they even paid for me to take graduate classes at a nearby university.
But it was here in this community, too, through various interactions and conversations and the daily work itself, that I finally realized what I wanted to do with my life: pursue graduate school with the goal of becoming a university professor.
The relationships I’d built in my job were instrumental in helping me take the next step—and the rest, as they say, is history.
What strikes me now, in looking back on my path, is how circuitous it was and how uncertain the journey often felt. In the words of Robert Frost, “way leads on to way,” and I see now how the choices we make and the people we meet open up doors we couldn’t have foreseen and show us possibilities we didn’t imagine.
To those of you still seeking your path, I offer some advice:
First, put yourself in a position to succeed—actively seek out opportunities (e.g. apply for internships or entry-level jobs at well-known companies); build up your network; and be excellent at what you do.
And second, trust that He who “gives to all mankind life and breath and everything,” and who has “determined the boundaries of [your] dwelling place” (Acts 17:25-26, ESV), will guide your steps as you seek to live out your unique calling.
Still figuring out that next step? Schedule an appointment with Career Advising or Academic Advising in Handshake today.