A spectrum of uncertainty

“What is your plan for after you graduate?”

This dreaded question rings in the ears of college seniors for months, causing feelings of panic, frustration and defensiveness. To be honest, its only emotional equivalent is the age-old, family-gathering staple of “Are you dating anyone?”

For me, I’m still putting my plan together. I’ve got a couple things in the works, but I don’t want to jinx anything yet. I’ll just say post-graduation could be an exciting time, but I haven’t ruled out Mom and Dad’s basement quite yet. However, since I don’t have a concrete plan, this blog will not be about my answer to the aforementioned question, but rather how I have noticed my friends finding their answer to that question.

I have deduced that there is a spectrum for how college seniors maneuver their way through this tricky time.

I have deduced that there is a spectrum for how college seniors maneuver their way through this tricky time. On one end of the spectrum, you have the Cohen Career Center frequenting, constantly working on a new cover letter, “so-and-so” is flying me out to “X City” for another interview cohort. This group also includes those who have frantically applied to 10 plus graduate, law or medical schools. Since our school attracts a competitive breed, I’m going to venture a guess that we have a higher percentage of this type of student than other universities. I have one friend who submitted over 40 applications just in the month of September. I’m not judging, because she’s received three offers and now has committed to her post-grad job. But man, being around this peer is sometimes very stressful.

On the other end, you have the people who really haven’t thought about it, or at least, they say they haven’t thought about it. But don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that this is out of laziness or apathy. There are many fields that don’t hire this far in advance, so for certain students, they don’t need to worry until next semester. However, there are some in this category who are just in denial about graduating.

I think that I fall somewhere in the middle of these two poles, as do most students. I care about my future and I want to have a set game plan, but my ideal types of jobs are not hiring at this point in the year. It will be interesting to observe how people begin to trickle over into the more intense cohort as the year progresses.

I think that I fall somewhere in the middle of these two poles, as do most students.

But let’s get into the numbers for a minute, shall we? A case study for the panicked college senior has manifested itself into the LinkedIn profile. Now this is a completely non-scientific observation — I begrudgingly made my LinkedIn profile during the summer after my freshman year, and, to be honest, I have not used it much during my time in college. But I realize now that I need to update it in order to be a competitive job candidate in the 21st century. This will be one of my Thanksgiving break projects. LinkedIn notifications to my emails have been pretty sparse for the past three years. I probably received a notification once a week.

Now, I get multiple “invitations” to add people to my network every week. This proves the panic to get a post-graduation job is real. Many of these invitations come from other College of William and Mary students or people I have worked with professionally, but a fair amount have come from people with whom I haven’t spoken since high school or middle school. I mean, you weren’t acting very professional in eighth period gym, Taylor; are you really asking me to endorse you for leadership skills?

At the end of the day, we are all dealing with this uncertain time in the best way that we possibly can. All my life, I’ve known what is coming next. I’ve known from elementary to middle to high school, and I was lucky enough to come from a home where college was not only expected, but also economically attainable. This is the first time I don’t have someone telling me the next step. It is scary. It’s really scary. But it’s also exciting and intriguing.

So friends, even if you do not yet have an answer to the quintessential question “What is your plan for after you graduate,” that’s okay. I don’t have my plan either. We’re going to figure it out, and we’re going to be alright.


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