Graduating seniors without a plan: you are not alone

Future opportunities will still be there after May 13

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Cade Belisle / Daily Collegian

By Alanna Joachim, Collegian Columnist

With the weather getting a little warmer each day, “senior spring” is fast approaching. For the class of 2022, this may bring feelings of both excitement but also stress. While many students have jobs secured for post-graduation or plans for continuing education, just as many students find themselves in a period of uncertainty where they are either searching for a job or applying for programs and opportunities they may or may not be accepted to.

There is a large emphasis by both the University and societal expectations to have post-graduation plans determined completely by the time a student graduates in May. As a graduating senior, I have seen many of my classmates accept job offers throughout the school year, some even as early as October. With this came a sense of urgency, as I felt the number of those without a job dropping quickly by the day, especially as we entered the spring semester. However, as someone who still has not quite figured out their plans after graduation, I would urge seniors who have not determined their life plans yet to not be discouraged.

Jobs and future careers do not have to be completely set by May 13.

Although some programs and opportunities do have deadlines, most future jobs will still be there later. Seniors should take this time to take a step back and enjoy the end of their time in college. While future job opportunities will always exist, this time will not. With about six weeks until graduation, this is time for graduating seniors to spend time with their peers and the University of Massachusetts community. While I do not encourage students to ignore their future responsibilities, there is no harm in taking a more generalized and realistic view of the job process.

It is perfectly fine to take extra time to find a job that is both a good fit for the student and the employer and to find a job that is something a student truly wants to pursue. Many students accept jobs or career opportunities simply because they feel pressure to have one secured in time for graduation. The university adds to this pressure by boasting about the students who have jobs or future opportunities by graduation. Often, in the fine print these promotional pamphlets and emails read “jobs secured within six months of graduation.” So, while it may appear that everyone is accepting job offers, I promise there are equal amounts of people also struggling with making decisions and plans for their future, some of which may not be made before graduation.

It is only natural to feel anxious or stressed by the possibility of the future. For many, leaving college will be the greatest change in their life since they transitioned from high school to college four years ago. I believe many students would be happier if they took a longer amount of time in the job process rather than rushing to find any job before graduation, regardless of if they will truly enjoy their work. In fact, 55.3 percent of college graduates will leave their first job within the first year due to work dissatisfaction, as stated by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is more important to find a job that is satisfying and engaging than to jump at the first opportunity that arises.

On the other hand, for those who have accepted a job already or who are in the process of accepting offers, your final decision is not binding. If you find yourself unhappy in a job or future career path a year from now, there is always time to change course and do something completely different, find a better employer or go back to school.

The conversation surrounding post grad plans has become centralized around the idea of the timeliness of job and future career plans. Students who accept jobs earlier are praised and congratulated for being proactive, but far less students are asked if their job will be something that they are happy pursuing.  The job process should be centered around students finding jobs that will be fulfilling for them, and there should be a de-emphasis on pressuring students to have a job or future career plan decided by graduation. To those who have a plan post-graduation, congratulations! To students who do not, there are many in the same position.

The focus of the next month or so should be the memories and moments which will be remembered far into the future and far into any career path.

Alanna Joachim can be reached at [email protected]