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Speaking out: Working through post-grad anxiety

By  Elizabeth Iwunwa, Speaking Out
  • August 2, 2018

If anyone had asked me last summer about my plans after graduation, I would have said that I was going to move to the U.S. to complete a one-year postgraduate fellowship with a giant media company. 

If anyone had asked me a few months ago about my plans after graduation, I would have said that I was going to move to China to teach English as a second language for one year. 

If anyone were to ask me about my plans now that I have graduated with a psychology degree from University of Prince Edward Island, I would say I don’t really know. And I’m not alone in feeling this way.

I’ve been talking with some friends and former classmates and many of us are still trying to find our feet after graduation. I heard many stories filled with worry and anxiety, and in these two months post-graduation, I have learned a few lessons.

First, I have learned to leverage disappointment. When I discovered that none of my initial plans would be manifested as I hoped, I was not quite sure how to move forward. 

My parents gave me courage and comfort when I turned to them. They advised me to look for ways to develop myself by obtaining a graduate degree. So, as per their advice, I am scheduled to begin a graduate program in business this fall. While I’m thrilled to begin, I still have the occasional moment when I have to ruminate on how different my reality is from what I imagined. I know that I’m lucky to have something to go back to because many of my friends don’t. 

While waiting to resume my studies, I work as a sales associate at a clothing store. I have re-learned the importance of humility and of blooming where I am planted. 

In the job market today, I think the emphasis is not simply on education but on differentiation. I have to do and be more to get to my desired goal. I had read about these things, yet I am finding that it is one thing to know and another thing to experience. 

I expected to be gainfully employed right after university. After all, I had done “all the right things” during my undergrad. I had been involved on campus and had excelled in my academics. (I should state, just in case someone invokes “#millennialproblems,” expectation and entitlement are not the same.)

Over the past two months, I have seen how my friend’s patience and persistence and networking has paid off for her. She also recently graduated — with a degree in biology — and found employment with a biotech firm several few weeks ago. 

Although she wants to work in the sciences and I have plans to one day run a corporate communications consulting firm, we have both decided to choose career paths in alignment with our God-given talents and interests. We take comfort in the fact that God is with her on her journey, and I know He is with me, too.

(Elizabeth Iwunwa, 20, is a psychology graduate at University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, PEI.)

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