Seniors feel the pressure of post-grad plans

“So, what are your plans after graduation?” This is the dreaded question for most college seniors. Whether it comes from family or strangers, it causes a major amount of anxiety. With graduation less than a month away, seniors at the University of San Diego are feeling the stress.

It’s interesting how just four years ago, most of us as high school seniors were excited to share that the following year we were heading to San Diego to go to college at USD. Now, elaborating about our future plans seems to take on a much different verbal response.

Growing up, many students were told that if they go to college, the world would be their oyster. However, many students are finding this to not exactly be true, as the job market is very competitive, and it’s difficult to land a good job straight after graduation.

Seniors at USD seem to fall into one or more of five categories in terms of plans after graduation: a paid or unpaid internship, a job, graduate school, traveling or volunteering, or no plans yet. Regardless of which categories students may fall into, there seems to be the same amount of anxiety surrounding the discussion of their plans.

Remarkably, some seniors have landed what seems to be their dream job right after college, including senior Noah Thomas. Thomas casually explained his out of this world plans.

“I’ll be moving back to my home state of Colorado to work with Lockheed Martin as a software engineer,” Thomas said. “I’ll be working with their Space Systems division. I’d love to go to space, but most likely I’ll be developing next generation satellite and rocket technology.”

While software engineering may be the perfect fit for Thomas, everyone’s passions are unique. Senior Mary Sutton has employment plans that fit her lifestyle.

“After graduation, I’m staying in San Diego and working in marketing for the medical cannabis industry,” Sutton said. “Alongside that, I’m getting my feet wet in other industries, like tea and festivals. I’m excited to stay in beautiful San Diego and work where I love.”

Some students are pursuing professional degrees by going to graduate school. Many students have shared that they believe having a master’s degree benefits them when looking for a job.

This is the case with senior Blair Butler who will be attending graduate school in the fall.

“I am going to University of California, Santa Barbara to study education because I need to get a credential in order to teach,” Butler said. “Plus, having a master’s gives me an advantage when looking for a job. My goal is to be a first grade teacher.”   

The process of moving far away from friends or family for a job opportunity or school can add to the anxiety seniors have after graduation.

Senior Megan Machek is stepping outside her comfort zone to attend medical school in Nebraska.

“I am going to Creighton for medical school in Omaha, Nebraska,” Machek said. “All of my family is in California, and I have always lived here. I am really nervous to leave my family and friends in San Diego, since almost all of my friends are staying, but I am so excited to experience something new and different, and begin the process of becoming a doctor.”

The job market isn’t easy for many students immediately after graduation, so many decide to seek a paid or unpaid internship to gain experience.

One type of unpaid internship is a year of service, sometimes found within organizations such as the Peace Corps or various religious organizations.

Senior Brenna Wertzberger will be leaving USD after graduation and spending the next year serving as a Jesuit volunteer.

“I will be a part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps next year, living in St. Louis, Missouri, with five other Jesuit volunteers,” Wertzberger said. “My position is called ‘City Seeds Coordinator,’ which means I will be working with individuals recovering from homelessness, mental health issues, and substance abuse disorders through an urban farm therapy program in downtown St. Louis.”

Other seniors, including Julia Sepulveda, are taking the time after graduating to travel before entering the workforce. She is planning to travel all around the United States on a roadtrip to visit as many National Parks as possible.

“I wanted to do something fun but also educational in my last free summer before I begin work as a tax associate at an accounting firm this September,” Sepulveda said.

While many students worry about what to do post grad, USD’s class of 2017 is filled with students taking all sorts of unique paths after graduation. Although this is an overwhelming and anxious time for many, these students are forging paths for themselves that they are excited about. Whatever you choose to do post-graduation, know that you are in good company.

By Lexie Fahey, Contributor