Well, nobody said it would be easy, but here I am, watching Gmail in real time in the hope that one of my prospective employers will contact me, muttering “Please employ me please employ me please employ me please employ me” out loud and furiously chewing over-salted roasted pumpkin seeds, the husks sticking between my teeth to become tasty morsels for later.
My reaction to “What are you doing after graduation?” has evolved from fear, to general annoyance, to wanting to throw my computer at a tile floor, to hysterical laughter, to fabricating stories about working as a double agent in corporate espionage for both Google and Apple, and finally to genuinely not feeling quite as concerned but still really hoping something works out.
I gotta say, if there’s one thing Grinnell doesn’t prepare us for, it’s rejection. This place is dripping with opportunities, and if you know the right people in the right places it can seem like anything is possible #nolimits. So when I got my first “Sorry, we don’t think you’re right for our team” email, I was almost a little bit offended. For the past four years people have been telling me that just having Grinnell on my resume will open so many doors for me, which is still probably true, but apparently the big professional world out there doesn’t play favorites. (Though try telling that to my sister who just started at Yale.)
Another thing that I feel weird about is that feeling that, when I do land something, it has to be Big and Good and Prestigious. I’m probably projecting, but sometimes it seems that, with my classmates getting scooped up by tech companies and national agencies left and right, I’m somehow not living up to the Good Name of Grinnell if I wind up doing something less impressive, like AmeriCorps or HealthCorps (which is also AmeriCorps).
Of course I am super excited for my peers, I want to make that clear. It’s just hard not to compare myself to them. But then again, if I’m bragging on my resume about knowing beginning French and having once used InDesign, maybe I don’t actually deserve this kind of position.
Ultimately, I know that what I really want is Happiness. And of course, the whiny young millennial that I am, I have no idea what that means for me. Grad school? Research? Service work? True Love? $money$? I have lots of vague interests that don’t particularly line up with careers. What does the world need with another post-bac whose only marketable skills are writing scientific papers, doing improv, and worrying about social interactions at a level of detail that is entirely unnecessary?
Well, I’m proud to announce that I think I’m finally internalizing the idea that living at home and working at a job that isn’t intended to directly advance my career goals is an acceptable and reasonable (if short-term) option. And I’m not just saying that to sound like a non-bitter and well-rounded person. It’s really not the end of the world if I don’t get any of the positions to which I’ve applied. (On a side note: aren’t we just sick and tired of applying to things? I thought I was done once I got into college but now I realize that the rest of my life will just be a series of applications and cover letters and guiltily asking for letters of recommendation.)
So now, as my rejection emails trickle in and my options dwindle, I think I need to hope for the best but also be prepared for “the worst”. Anything could happen. To quote the Grey’s Anatomy theme song, “Nobody knows where they might end up. Oh, oh, oh, oh, suppose you’ll never know.”