12 votes

Two months post graduation, I am lost, confused and don't know how to go where I want to be.

I feel so cheated- I went into college with no clue what my interests are and got a degree in something irrelevant that doesn't interest me ( BBA in digital marketing).
I was too young when I made the decision to get this degree and in the years since, I have discovered my passions are art and the environment- I can't see myself feeling fulfilled working in any other field.
But now I don't have the qualifications or skills to get into either, and it seems like a bit of a stretch to go back to college and do another four years!

I just don't know where to go from here, I feel demotivated and I wish that college was something that happened to us later in life. I would do things so differently!

I'm taking some time off to figure out what to do next, but honestly...I don't have a clue.

23 comments

  1. [4]
    Stone-D
    Link
    Dude. This is usable in many, many industries. If you're not whooped about that as an actual career, use it to get yourself in the industry while you polish up on certificates and courses so that...

    digital marketing

    Dude. This is usable in many, many industries. If you're not whooped about that as an actual career, use it to get yourself in the industry while you polish up on certificates and courses so that you can transfer to another department or whatever. A safer play would probably be to focus on said certs while freelancing digital marketing online with a focus towards clients that are in the fields you're interested in - get those jobs, keep the contacts.

    These days, the number one value of a degree is as an indicator that the individual has the qualities required to actually get one in the first place. Build an art portfolio, pad your CV with certs and freelance work. That combo should at least get you noticeable enough for interview when you're ready... remember those contacts you kept? Yeah.

    13 votes
    1. [3]
      SaucedButLeaking
      Link Parent
      I was going to say something along these lines. Especially since one of the passions they listed was "the environment." Non-profits can always use a hand getting the word out, and some of them...

      I was going to say something along these lines. Especially since one of the passions they listed was "the environment." Non-profits can always use a hand getting the word out, and some of them might be able to afford an entry-level digital marketer.

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        aethicglass
        Link Parent
        Not to mention artists. I bet there are plenty out there who be happy to trade some marketing management for lessons. I know I have, at least. Not everybody needs it, but when you do and you don't...

        Not to mention artists. I bet there are plenty out there who be happy to trade some marketing management for lessons. I know I have, at least. Not everybody needs it, but when you do and you don't have time or don't know how, hoo boy that can make a huge difference.

        4 votes
        1. SaucedButLeaking
          Link Parent
          That too! Also, artistic talent means that design work isn't an incredible stretch, either. OP has skills, it's just going to take a little while and a lot of effort to get them paying the bills

          That too! Also, artistic talent means that design work isn't an incredible stretch, either.

          OP has skills, it's just going to take a little while and a lot of effort to get them paying the bills

          2 votes
  2. [11]
    mat
    Link
    I think there's far too much expectation that people should know what they want to do. Especially when they're barely out of their teenage years. Some people do - I went to school with a girl who...

    I think there's far too much expectation that people should know what they want to do. Especially when they're barely out of their teenage years. Some people do - I went to school with a girl who wanted to be a radiographer from age 9, and she is - and that's great for them, but to paraphrase good old Baz, some of the most interesting people I know didn't know what they wanted to do when they were 20, many of them still don't at 30, 40, even older. I certainly don't have a clue what I want to do next and I'm on my third "career" at forty and doing just fine. Part time jobs aside, I've worked in a circus, been a programmer, run what was almost Instagram before Instagram existed, now I make stuff out of wood and metal and occasionally write words for cash. I'll probably be doing something else in five or ten years time. I have loads of friends who have done similar things.

    You will find something, and it probably won't be anything you ever expected. Stop looking so hard for it, just let it come to you. time off to think (or better, not think!) is a great idea. Travel if you can afford it, but don't worry if you can't. Learn new things, do whatever stuff comes your way and don't worry about it. You'll have some jobs you hate, some which are OK, then one day someone will say "oh hey can you do this thing?" and all of a sudden you'll be doing that for a 5, 10, 20 years or more and loving it.

    If I was 19 now there's no way I'd be going to university and I will recommend to my kid that they take at least a year, ideally three or four, between school and further education.

    9 votes
    1. [8]
      Lucifer
      Link Parent
      no offense, but there are more reasons to go to college than to learn whatever it is you want to be your career. its about working out the most important part of the body, and proving you can...

      no offense, but there are more reasons to go to college than to learn whatever it is you want to be your career. its about working out the most important part of the body, and proving you can actually complete a complex program.

      if you have the time and money, no one should skip college.

      4 votes
      1. [7]
        Scion
        Link Parent
        I don't think he was suggesting not going to college, but rather taking some time off between high school and college.

        I don't think he was suggesting not going to college, but rather taking some time off between high school and college.

        4 votes
        1. [6]
          Lucifer
          Link Parent

          If I was 19 now there's no way I'd be going to university

          1 vote
          1. [5]
            Scion
            Link Parent
            ...maybe go ahead and read the second half of that sentence too. He's just saying that 18/19 is really young to make such a huge choice and commitment, in terms of both time and money, and it...

            ...maybe go ahead and read the second half of that sentence too. He's just saying that 18/19 is really young to make such a huge choice and commitment, in terms of both time and money, and it might be beneficial to take some to explore life a bit.

            2 votes
            1. [4]
              Lucifer
              Link Parent
              i did, and i stand by my comment

              i did, and i stand by my comment

              1. [3]
                mat
                Link Parent
                I wasn't clear, I apologise. I wouldn't be going to university now if I was 19. I would be waiting until I was 23, 24, maybe even older. I wish I'd waited a bit longer when I was 19 (and I'd...

                I wasn't clear, I apologise. I wouldn't be going to university now if I was 19. I would be waiting until I was 23, 24, maybe even older. I wish I'd waited a bit longer when I was 19 (and I'd already taken a year between school and uni by then).

                I was considerably more capable and responsible when I was 24 compared to 19. I would have got a lot more out of university then than I did.

                1 vote
                1. [2]
                  Catt
                  Link Parent
                  But are you more capable and responsible due to your experiences in university and what lead out of it? Personally, I changed a lot because I went to university. I believe it was the experience of...

                  I was considerably more capable and responsible when I was 24 compared to 19. I would have got a lot more out of university then than I did.

                  But are you more capable and responsible due to your experiences in university and what lead out of it?

                  Personally, I changed a lot because I went to university. I believe it was the experience of university (and also living on my own) that helped me matured. If I had delayed university, I'm sure I would have grown a little, but probably not the amount I would have if I didn't.

                  1. mat
                    Link Parent
                    I got my shit together mostly after uni when I got a job. If I'd spent a few years working before uni I'm certain I would have been better prepared than I was. I'd have certainly got a lot of...

                    I got my shit together mostly after uni when I got a job. If I'd spent a few years working before uni I'm certain I would have been better prepared than I was. I'd have certainly got a lot of partying and assorted substance abuse enjoyment out of my system, neither of which is conducive to study.

                    There's good evidence to suggest that 19 year old brains are still not fully developed. It takes until your mid-twenties before you're "neurally mature" and my anecdotal experience certainly seems to support that.

                    edit: dammit how do I do strikethrough?

                    1 vote
    2. [2]
      disharmony
      Link Parent
      It's comforting to hear that. And I went to university when I was 17- definitely way too early! I have a sneaking suspicion that it will come to me on it's own eventually, but i'm torn between...

      It's comforting to hear that. And I went to university when I was 17- definitely way too early!
      I have a sneaking suspicion that it will come to me on it's own eventually, but i'm torn between thinking that and between thinking nothing will happen unless I go out and make it happen. It's also difficult because everyone around me has already moved on to jobs and new cities and lives, and i'm back in my hometown living with my parents.

      2 votes
      1. mat
        Link Parent
        You can't force a decision like that to happen. You can - and should - try to do as many things as you can in order to help it on it's way. Sometimes that means getting a job in a bar (do get a...

        You can't force a decision like that to happen. You can - and should - try to do as many things as you can in order to help it on it's way. Sometimes that means getting a job in a bar (do get a job in a pub if you can, it's such a great way to meet people and learn about them) and just doing that for a while. Sometimes it means spending hours trawling through job adverts and applying for them. Sometimes it means just fucking it all off and going camping on your own for a week. Sometimes it's reading a book or researching some crazy topic on the internet. I've always thought that doing stuff is what matters, not so much what that stuff is. Moving is important, the direction and destination will, to an extent, sort themselves out.

        Anyway, best of luck. I know it sounds somewhat trite but you will be fine.

        2 votes
  3. [3]
    bme
    (edited )
    Link
    If you are looking for ways to ensure that your life doesn't meet the measure of your expectations this is a great way to go about achieving it. Almost nobody works in the field of their degree,...

    I feel so cheated

    If you are looking for ways to ensure that your life doesn't meet the measure of your expectations this is a great way to go about achieving it.

    Almost nobody works in the field of their degree, almost no one makes a good living in the arts. The reason that "following your passions" is looked on so enviably is because few people have the option available to them. Most people are compromising along numerous axes.

    It's fine to feel a little post-graduate depression. I left college terrified of what I was going to do (I have a masters in something that I have never come close to using professionally), but I got the first tangentially related non-terrible job, and gradually worked my way into something palatable, like most people. You can do it!

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      crwcomposer
      Link Parent
      Plus, trying to make your passion into your daily grind is one way to lose your passion.

      Plus, trying to make your passion into your daily grind is one way to lose your passion.

      3 votes
      1. Stone-D
        Link Parent
        Ohhh yeah. This. I loved programming as a kid... then I started working. I switched to teaching and used my coding background to make my job easier (MUCH easier to the point that people think I...

        Ohhh yeah. This. I loved programming as a kid... then I started working. I switched to teaching and used my coding background to make my job easier (MUCH easier to the point that people think I have nothing to do most of the time as I'm always messing about... building rapport) and I'm a very happy chap now, but I never recovered that passion for coding.

        I did the same thing recently with drone flying. I loved it, got pressured by the school to make a club which came with responsibilities and pressure and I got de-passioned again. That, at least, only lasted a year so I'm recovering fairly well.

        1 vote
  4. Pilgrim
    Link
    If it makes you feel any better I'm a software engineer with a Master's degree in Journalism and a BA in English. Following my passion was great until I learned that I couldn't pay rent with what...

    If it makes you feel any better I'm a software engineer with a Master's degree in Journalism and a BA in English.

    Following my passion was great until I learned that I couldn't pay rent with what I was going to make as a journalist in the area I was when (not a large metro). Sometimes I wish I had gone the CS route, but I don't regret where I'm at or what I'm doing. The experiences I had in college made me the person I am today and the skills I learned come in handy often (I lead a lot of documentation efforts for my department).

    I feel so cheated

    I was going to rant on that line a little bit - saying how it's on you what you study and it's up to you to make your choices and live with them. Personal responsibility and all that. But that's only partly true. And it's not fair to pretend that someone who was following what they were told by society should have known that what they were told wasn't really true, that they should have somehow known better. That's not a fair shake. And especially not for a newly minted adult.

    I don't know what you were told or what promises were made - I know I was told "just get a degree, doesn't matter what, and it'll work out." And for me it did, but that's at least partly because I'm me. I've realized over the years that what that line really meant was "just don't be someone who only gets a HS degree, get a college degree, it's better than not having one." And I think that's generally true.

    The truth as I see it is that the people who follow their passion in the arts and make a living at it usually have a couple things in common: 1) the circumstances to either not worry about money or the mindset to live without it 2) a ridiculous degree of raw talent or a ridiculous work ethic. If you don't identify with one of each those points then I doubt you'll make it.

    That said, my advice is to go get a job at a company that does something related to those passions, even just a little bit. It almost certainly won't be the job you want. But with time and effort you can work your way to a place you want to be. I think that's the true promise of college - the means to one day get to where you want to be with great effort, but not so great as if you didn't have the degree to begin with. I mean unless you're a doctor or lawyer or some such.

    I hope this is in some way hopeful.

    4 votes
  5. aethicglass
    Link
    My cookie-cutter, I'm-almost-ready-for-a-midlife-crisis-now advice column: "Don't feel too bad, you have a degree! Even if you don't do anything in particular with it, it opens a lot of doors that...

    My cookie-cutter, I'm-almost-ready-for-a-midlife-crisis-now advice column:
    "Don't feel too bad, you have a degree! Even if you don't do anything in particular with it, it opens a lot of doors that you probably won't even notice. If you can get a decent paying job in your industry, jump on it just for the sake of paying off debt. If you don't have debt, even better! If you start setting aside some cash now, future you will thank you."

    My too-much-info rant that's probably more useful:
    I've worked in the arts for a fair chunk of my life, and I'll warn you up front that it can be a hell of a grind. Devoting myself to it full time (and then some) was possibly a huge mistake. Like -- explore the depths of suicidal depression while dumpstering food, hoping that the distributor will order enough pieces and be able to pay up front so that I can afford the materials to work an 80 hour week for a grand total of $300 that I can take home and immediately throw at overdue bills -- kind of mistake. (I took some liberties with the timeline, that didn't all happen in the same week.)

    I'm not saying that's the case for everyone that dives head first into creative endeavors. The term "starving artist" sticks around for a reason, but I'm mostly just arguing against diving in head first so that I can argue in favor of a more moderate approach. Taking on some work for work's sake will go miles for funding whatever skill you want to learn. Pretty much every art is a huge money sink and the more expendable income you can set aside and earmark for it, the better.

    If the job isn't entirely soul-sucking, odds will be pretty good that with a bit of practice you'll be able to find the time and energy at the end of the day to learn the different stuff you want to. The more things you experiment around with, the easier it becomes to pick up new skills, and the more crossover you'll find in different skillsets.

    If the job is entirely soul-sucking, you're gonna have to figure out how much soul you're willing to part with for the sake of money. If dumpstering food and living in the wash sounds like a decent alternative, get outta there! Line up another gig, any gig, doesn't matter. But if it's only moderately soul-sucking, and you're willing to trade, say, 5 pounds of soul over the course of the next year because the pay is enough that you've been setting some aside... That's not too bad.

    6 pounds, though? Too much. Way too much.

    2 votes
  6. SaucedButLeaking
    Link
    I know it has to feel like this is Your Momentâ„¢, but graduation is a beginning, not an end. And the word "beginning" is both simpler and wider-open than it feels. My post-graduation freakout...

    I know it has to feel like this is Your Momentâ„¢, but graduation is a beginning, not an end. And the word "beginning" is both simpler and wider-open than it feels.

    My post-graduation freakout lasted for about 6 months before I was able to move out of my parents' house on WAY too little money to afford it. I lived paycheck to paycheck, working ~25 hours a week at a bottle return and making barely enough to pay gas, rent, and food. Eventually one of my buddies mentioned that his employer (a small, local web-hosting company) was hiring. My degree is in English Literature, and I got the "SEO" job pretty easily because I know how to write. Since my buddy told them I was good with computers, they gave me the tech test too and I did well enough on it that they would give me a tryout with tech training.

    The "SEO" job was basically using a pseudonym to buy links back to our site, increasing its ranking in Google searches. This, as anyone who actually does SEO will tell you, is a huge no-no according to Google. It also, as anyone who has worked in the business will tell you, fucking sucks. I lasted about 2 weeks doing that before I just kinda stopped with the blessing of the manager who was training me on tech stuff.

    4 years, 2 attempts to quit, $6 / hour in total raises, and way too many on-call nights later, I found myself in an interview with a local university for a sysadmin job. I've been there for the last year and love it.

    My point, through all the rambling, is this:

    Don't sweat it. Keep on keeping on for a little while, make friends, learn things, branch out. Keep an eye open for anything that touches upon your passion, and especially for anything that will pay you to hone your skills.

    2 votes
  7. Catt
    Link
    I've done some campus recruiting and know lots of people who do too. It always surprises me how little graduating students know about their own field. Regardless of your degree, there are a lot...

    I was too young when I made the decision to get this degree and in the years since, I have discovered my passions are art and the environment- I can't see myself feeling fulfilled working in any other field.

    I've done some campus recruiting and know lots of people who do too. It always surprises me how little graduating students know about their own field. Regardless of your degree, there are a lot more type of jobs available than you realize. And in your specific case, they'll likely intersect your interests.

    You mentioned that you feel to young to have made your decisions regarding post-secondary, but sometimes it's the process of making them that allow you to mature and grow and realize what you want. Maybe spend a bit of time breaking down what you like and dislike about your current job. And what you expect will be different from your dream job.

    Mini-rant: We've hired (and I've personally trained) new grads over the years, and I don't know why, but they always expect their work to be easier and more "fun" than it is. Everyone wants to do the interesting part, and none of the tedious. And in our cases, doing the tedious is how to train to do the interesting later.

    2 votes
  8. Mechangel
    Link
    I think this touches on the points some others have made in this thread, but your passions and your job don't have to be one and the same. In my experience, working with great people can go a...

    I think this touches on the points some others have made in this thread, but your passions and your job don't have to be one and the same. In my experience, working with great people can go a really long way toward achieving personal career satisfaction, even if you're not in your desired field. Part of what drives me to get up and go to work every day is that I genuinely like my colleagues.

    I'm also fortunate enough to have a career that doesn't require me to bring my work home with me. My free time is still my own, and that helps to ensure that I don't resent my employer or myself for my past choices.

    When I was a senior in college, I got talked into going on a weekend vocational retreat that was supposed to help people who were about to graduate focus on their futures. At one point, we were all sitting in a circle and everyone was supposed to say what their plans were after graduation. Everyone was all, "I'm going to do 'Teach for America,'" or "I'm going to law school." When it was my turn, I burst into tears in front of the entire group and said, "I don't know. I just want to be happy." At the time I was horrified, but when I look back on that moment now, most days, I feel like I've achieved that. I don't work in a field that pays well, but I have a roof over my head, I like what I do, and I'm given a lot of freedom to try out my own ideas and focus on the aspects of my job that are personally rewarding.

    You have the rest of your life to figure things out. You'll find your niche.

    Edit: Forgot a word

    2 votes