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Help, I’m a Senior and Have No Idea What to Do Next!

People say that college is the best four years of your life. They also tell you that those four years fly by so fast, and that you should make the best of it. Well, here I am. A senior, graduating in May, and crying about it. When I say crying, not only am I bawling my eyes out out over the thought of graduating and finding a job, but I am dealing with a very bad case of anxiety. Even mentioning the phrase, “Have you found a job yet?” to me makes me want to crawl into a deep hole and never crawl back out again.

The thought of finding a job after college is one that my parents keep pestering me about (ever-so-nicely) each time I speak with them on the phone, or even when I’m actually at home. In fact, it’s all they wanted to talk to me about when I was home over break, and each time we’ve talked on the phone. I either yell at them to stop, in the hopes that I’ll be able to block it out, or I just start crying on the spot. I’m a very emotional person and this is taking a huge toll on me. I’m also not ready to really “grow up” and find a job in the real world. I don’t mean to act the way I do when they bring it up, but it just happens. So Mom and Dad (and to an extent, Hunter, my little brother), I know you’re all going to read this, so I’m apologizing to you now, on a public forum, on a public website, that will probably stay up for years and years after I graduate.

You see, I’m a bit behind in the process of looking for a job. Yeah, I’ve been “looking” for jobs, but that usually means glancing over jobs on the Journalism Jobs website, seeing emails my parents forward me, and looking at the job listings on LinkedIn. I keep saying that I’ll fill out a job app, but I haven’t done it yet. I get intimidated by it…and it’s only my first-ever job app. I can’t even believe it myself. It’s like I was only a freshman a month ago, not having to worry about careers, job applications, or other “real world” issues.

Filling out a job application is much different than filling out an application for an internship, or an application to join a club or something. Filling out a job application is serious. It’s scary. It’s like a giant monster that I know I have to conquer, but don’t have the guts to do so (yet). I have to overcome my fear of the unknown, and stop being so scared of rejection. It’s a perfectly natural feeling, but somehow my fear has been amplified. It’s March; I should have filled out at least five applications by now. And yet…zero.

I know that there are resources here to help me, like Career Services, but I’m too scared to even step foot into their office.  I keep telling myself (and my parents) that I will make it out there and ask for help, but I just can’t bring myself to do so. Now that classes are back in session, I’m going to make an effort to go there, because I’m going to be a scared, lost little puppy when it comes time to actually attend a career fair. I can’t rely on the Internet to tell me how to properly write out my resume, or how to even write a cover letter. I’m just afraid that nobody is ever going to want to hire me, and I’ll have a mailbox full of rejection letters. My fear is paralyzing me, and hindering me from actually becoming a productive member of society. To quote one of my favorite bands, “I’m convinced that wondering what if is the worst thing there is.” In my case, it is.

But why exactly am I so afraid to go to Career Services? I’ve got this terribly irrational fear that they’ll just tear apart my resume, tell me that I’m not going to be able to hold a job, or that I’m just completely unhireable. I mean, who would want to hire a girl that has never held a proper job in her life, one internship, and writes for a site that many people don’t regard as “actual journalism?” (For what it’s worth, I think that OS is a site that features actual journalism, but in a way that a lot of people aren’t used to seeing. News is really moving from the print form to an online medium and people are not willing to accept that change. But that’s another story.)

I guess I’m not willing to accept the change from being a college student to a person out in the real world. Change is something hard to accept. It’s hard for me to accept the change from being a college student to a professional journalist. It’s something that I have nightmares about. It’s something that has given me a very serious case of anxiety, to the point where I’ve lost my appetite from being so stressed out about finding a job, and I’m losing weight. For me, that’s something very serious and scary. That’s why I need to stop fretting about finding a job, and actually pull up the courage to become more confident in my abilities to find a job.

I’m unprepared to really be out on my own. My parents have pretty much provided me with anything and everything I could ever want. I guess you could say I’m “privileged,” “entitled,” or even a “spoiled brat.” It’s a harsh reality I have to face, especially since I am a mix of the three, and am willing to admit that. However, despite that, my parents did manage to instill in me the values of being a hard worker, and didn’t just hand everything down to me on a silver platter. I’ve never really had a job before, unless you count things that I’ve done for the University, like be a peer mentor to freshmen when I was at the Harrisburg campus, or take notes for someone who really needs them through the Office of Disability Services. My parents have always wanted me to get a job over the summer, but I never really had the initiative to get one. I mean, I’m not lazy, I’m scared. Really, really scared, and I know I’m not alone. This is why I’m writing this now. Plus, I can’t live at home forever!

If I don’t find a job with a television or radio station in the near future, I just figure that,  with my writing skills, I can be a freelancer. I mean, I’ve been writing for Onward State for the past year-and-a-half now. I have a solid resume of things that I’ve written online, as well as an even more solid resume of articles I wrote at my internship last summer, for WTOP News Radio’s website. I wouldn’t mind being a blogger for the rest of my life. That way I won’t ever have to worry about my appearance on television, worry about losing my voice, and I can literally work in my pajamas. Sadly, a few weeks ago, I met someone who works as a freelance journalist, who told me that blogging professionally is hard, and takes a lot out of you. Apparently it doesn’t even pay as well either. That was disheartening to hear, but it makes me even more determined to find a job. Being a freelancer means that you have to find other ways to support yourself, and you can’t rely solely on what comes your way.

I’m sure I’ll be able to make it out on my own someday, and that one day, I’ll be a somebody, like Anderson Cooper, instead of a nobody just writing things and letting them float around in the blogosphere. But until then, I’ll be a broke journalist with a very nice pair of shoes (or the dream of having a very nice pair of shoes. I’m looking at you, Christian Louboutin pumps!). I just need to keep calm and breathe, and stop getting so worked up over the post-college job search. It’s not good for my health and well-being. It’s a scary world out there, and I know that there are people out there, exactly like me, fretting over what to do after college, or even having second thoughts about what they really want to do after graduation.

Sometimes just venting can be everything you need. Head to the comments section and tell us about if you’re still dealing with your first job application jitters, or let us know how you managed to get past them. 

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About the Author

Meghin Moore

Meghin is a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and minoring in English. She transferred from the Harrisburg campus as a junior to finish out her schooling at University Park. She has a passion for all things music, fashion, art, and food. She's a Pennsylvania native (born outside of Pittsburgh, and lived in Lebanon for 11 years), but resides in Virginia when she's not in school, and has moved a total of ten times in her life, mostly thanks to the military.

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