Just Graduated, What Do I Do Now?
Graduating in a recession is the best excuse for adventure. With the possibility of getting a career-track job looking like slim-to-none, I felt free to pursue options I might not otherwise have considered. While at Brown University, I concentrated in English with a focus in Nonfiction Writing. In a different year, I might have ended up writing for a newspaper or a magazine. In fact, I applied to newspapers, big and small, all across the U.S. and even several abroad. This wasn’t a good year to find a paying job as a journalist. Many papers wrote back saying they’d implemented a hiring freeze. Others simply went bankrupt and folded. There was stiff competition for the few positions still available. One managing editor told me she’d had a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter apply for the same entry-level position I was hoping for.
My time at Brown was dominated by the philosophy of the “Open Curriculum.” This increased focus on advising and lack of a required core curriculum can be summed up as, “your education is what you make it.” Over my four years at Brown, I was able to study broadly, taking courses on everything from British literature to economics to public health and policy. Now, faced with a tough job market, I was able to translate the broad curiosity, independence and creativity that Brown fostered into thinking outside traditional career paths.
Right now, I’m studying the Korean language in Suwon, South Korea. I’m here with the Critical Language Scholarship, a program funded by the U.S. State Department that brings Americans overseas for immersive study in high-need languages. Once I leave Korea, I’ll spend a week at home and then head off for a year in Greece, where I received a fellowship to teach English. I’ve found these fully-funded opportunities, which will give me regional expertise and a knowledge of local languages, only because this recession forced me to look for options I wouldn’t otherwise have considered. In the end, I think I’ll have enjoyed my time after college more and be left with a more interesting story and qualifications than if I’d graduated into a stronger job market. #