By: Yue Stevenson, Graduate Student, MA English
With Indiana finally beginning to show signs of Autumn, I’ve realized just how liminal the fall semester can be. Though there’s still November and December to get through before break, I’ve felt a great deal of pressure to consider what I will be doing after graduating this summer, where I’ll continue my education, find a role in the workforce for the time being, or something else entirely; one idea I’ve been processing is the possibility of going abroad to teach English in Japan. These paths all have their own merits and complications, making it more difficult to choose and stick to one. I imagine my classmates are dealing with similar situations, with deadlines approaching, courses to choose for Spring, interviews to prepare for, and the like.
Regardless of how much pressure is mounting to make career choices like these, I urge students to remember just how early in their lives they are. It’s all too common for individuals to change their careers throughout their lives, just as one might change their major (I did!), or to spend time in one city only to up and move to another down the line. There can be a sense of finality to these choices as a result of the urgency behind them and the pressure our society puts on individuals to thrust themselves into the world at a young age, confident that they’ll succeed in every endeavor they undertake. If one was to ask the people in their lives about their career paths and how they ended up in their current role, I can imagine all the twists and turns they likely took before settling into a position they felt comfortable in. I certainly have experience with feeling paralyzed by the prospect of choosing, but I implore anyone who can relate to reach out to those around them, whether that is a friend, a trusted professor, advisor, or even the IUPUI graduate office.
At the end of the day, only you yourself can make the choice regarding what to do when your time here is finished, but that doesn’t mean you have to be without advice, or at least someone to listen to your woes. Everyone has gone through it before, but that doesn’t take away from the individual anxiety it can bring in the moment, especially when you have your current concerns to handle as well. Its difficult enough to ask for letters of recommendation, to churn our personal statements, or ace interviews, but doing such while also studying for exams, polishing essays, etc. can absolutely be overbearing.
What works best for me with looming deadlines is starting early on applications and contacting the necessary professors as soon as possible, as to not rush them by getting them involved too close to a deadline. I find that the more I work on an application or a personal statement, the more confident I feel to ask for the favor of a letter of recommendation or a use as a reference. The way I rationalize it, I think, is that the more effort I’ve already put into something, the more of a waste it would be if I allowed my anxiety to keep me from trying. It is certainly easier said than done, but that thought process can be helpful for me, alongside looking to those I trust for reassurance along the way.
Whatever decision there might be ahead of you at this time, I’m sure that you can go through with it. You can always make a choice now and pivot in the future, if it doesn’t work out the way you planned, but I imagine you might just surprise yourself with the good that can come from moving onward.