I’m a senior, about to graduate this spring. I’m a little afraid of what comes next. But I think that’s true for every graduating senior, right? I feel like I have been living my entire life to get into college, and now that I’m about to go out in to the world, I don’t really have a plan, or a direction in which to go. It also doesn’t help that my major — studio art — is a little different from other majors in that I don’t have a job to walk right in to after graduation. I’m not at all sad about that, because I did what I loved, and I studied something that I can do all my life and that will never be obsolete. However, I’m still intimidated by the fact that there isn’t really a path ahead of me, and I don’t really have those critical career skills yet. What are some ideas for finding my path after graduation?
You are facing the eternal problem, as old as college itself — what do you do once you’ve graduated? We want to stress that you do not have to worry too much. Plenty of people (even people with studio art degrees!) have faced the exact same fears as you have and turned out just fine. We will break down our advice into two sections: first, some sensible advice about career advancement, and second, a little bit about ways to find your path during your post-collegiate years.
When it comes to getting a job, you have no reason to be worried. First, people rarely have “a job to walk right in to after graduation,” or if they do, it’s probably because they’ve either been on the intern grind for two years, or are related to somebody in the organization that’s hiring them. Everybody has to do something for money, and whether that means working as a barista or selling clothes, your first job out of college probably isn’t going to be the most exciting job you will ever have. As they say, if you don’t need the money, they can’t tell you what to do, and for that reason artists have almost always had to take day jobs — even the great painter Mark Rothko taught children for 20 years.
If you are of the mindset that you can put yourself through another few years of schooling, you can consider earning your master’s in fine arts, a degree which, for many universities, qualifies you to teach. Alternatively, you can look at getting another degree or professional certification in something more practical, whether that means attending a coding bootcamp, or taking a healthcare administration bachelor’s degree online. Both of these career paths are high-growth, with health care administration being a job that is expected to grow by a whopping 20 percent within the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So, finally, here’s one of the secrets of life: There is no “path,” per se. A lot of people view getting a job as the first thing they must do after college, like it’s college year five (or six, or seven…), and some people view getting a master’s degree the same way. The truth of the matter is that your goals can now be set and defined however you want them to be. If it means getting a job that pays good money, let your goal be that. If it means finally tackling the ambitious art project that you never had a chance to do, go for it. Plenty of columns purport to offer you advice on how to approach life after school, but here’s our advice: Sit down, and write down a list of five things that are really important to you. Then, think about ways you can integrate each of those things in to your life. Becoming an adult is as much about discovering what you want to do as it is what you must do. If you have a head-start on that, you will be on a pathway to success, whatever that looks like.