Tuesday, April 3, 2012

So You're Graduating...

UNH commencement is 46 days away and if you’re a second semester senior like me, you are probably having some mixed emotions. Part of me is excited to move on to the next phase of my life, part of me is sad about leaving and part of me is terrified, yet anxious to graduate. Out of everything, I think that the worst part of being a second semester senior is answering the same questions over and over again.

“What are your plans after graduation?” is the most annoying and frustrating question I have ever had to answer in my entire life. Partially because every time I answer it, which seems to be more and more frequent as graduation approaches, I answer it differently.

I know that many of my classmates already have potential jobs and internships lined up and others have already been hired, but not all of us are in that position. Many of us simply do not know what we want to do. How can you answer that question if you don’t even know?

So, I have been devising a scheme over the last few months in which I tailor my answer depending on who had asked me the question.

If it is someone who knows all about me, including my blogging side, I explain how I am looking at a few potential cities in search of writing jobs. Sometimes I may even slip in how my older brother, who majored in screenwriting, and I have a few movie ideas we may even write. This is actually semi-serious.

To other people, like family, I explain how I plan on working for a year before applying for graduate schools where I would study anything from law to politics to secondary education.

Then comes the people that I let myself have a little fun with, and if you are in a similar position to me, I recommend giving a few of these a shot.

One of my favorites, which I usually use on more free thinkers or people with super strict social values (for the shock of course) is explaining how I want to follow one of my favorite bands on a world tour and write about my experiences with the different cultures and how the music is a part of their life. Think of it as an anthropologic, cross-cultural study with a dash of gonzo-journalism thrown in. Using those terms only sweetens the deal. I should add that deep down, that would actually be pretty awesome; I just don’t have the money to make it economically feasible.

If the person who asks the question is technologically disabled and unaware of the musings of the Internet, sometimes I will use that to my advantage.

I may say something like, “Well, I just received a job offer from this web-based company called Reddit. They think I would be great as a researcher/writer and a weekend editor, so I am pretty excited about that potential opportunity.”

Other times, I say something so ridiculous I know that the person won’t be able to quickly think up a follow-up question, so they will awkwardly smile and end the conversation, which is a win in my book. Studying the effects of various illegal narcotics and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals on skateboarding bears usually does the trick.

Another trick to avoid a long conversation is to not allow for any possibility of a follow-up question. For example: “Well, I actually have been interviewed by a specific governmental bureau and will be traveling to a secret location in Nevada in July. I’m sorry, I’ve already said too much.”

Sometimes I get really into the conversation, but avoid talking about my potential career at all. I do this by explaining a huge summer trip in detail so it will distract the person from bringing up jobs again.

Canoeing down the Mississippi, backpacking through Europe, walking across America and other various outdoor adventures usually does the trick just fine.

When all is said and done, I realize that in less than two months I will be done with my undergrad career. Whether I end up in graduate school, freelance writing or studying bear brains, I am going to make the most of these last 46 days.

UNH has prepared me for the real world, but I still have 46 days to spend time with my closest friends and get every last bit of nonsense out of me before I leave Durham.

Stay classy, not UMassy

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