The Next Step

The nice thing about being a student is that we get all kinds of access to services that you have to pay for in the “real world”. Take career counselling, for example. Out there, there are experts-a-plenty ready to guide you through the sometimes impossible seeming ‘what should I do with my life!!!’ questions. But it’ll cost ya.

That’s where Career Services at Queen’s can help.

As readers of this blog may already know, I am perpetually plagued by the “what should I do with my life” questions. As pleasant as pursuing a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies might be, it’s not the kind of program that spits you out perfectly formed to take on the job market. No, sir. Instead, finding work once my degree is behind me is going to require also sorts of clever creativity.

That’s why I’ve decided to start thinking about it now.

I know, it’s only December. I’ve still got another bunch of months ahead of me before I should really start asking the “uh oh, what next!?” questions. But you try telling that to my anxious, monkey mind when it’s bouncing around in a pre-sleep frenzy. More than a few people have told me to enroll in a PhD program, just so that I can delay the anxiety for awhile (“Just stay in school! It’s such a nice place to be! Plus, it’ll buy you more time…”), but that doesn’t seem like a good strategy. If I decide to pursue a doctoral degree, I want it to be because it’s the right path for me, not because it’s an easy default now that I’m in the academic bubble.

So I called Career Services and made an appointment to meet with a counsellor. I was curious to meet with someone who might have some strategies for helping me figure out where my skills might be a good fit, job-wise.

My appointment was this morning. It was a comfortable affair that felt more like a mini-therapy session than anything else. I have been alive for long enough that I am starting to be able to recognize my own strengths and weaknesses. Over the course of the hour-long session, I talked generally about what I’ve done, job-wise, about my research and where it’s taking me, and about what I want for my life (in a general sense), while the counsellor took notes. He then proposed a few ideas for career paths that might be suitable for me, while we discussed the pros and cons of the various options. He then assigned me some homework (I have to seek out people doing the kind of work we agreed might be a good fit for me and then ask them questions about it). We’ll meet again in the new year.

So, fellow students: don’t wait until you’re at the end of your degree in order to start thinking about the ‘what next!?’ questions. Start planning now. Being a student gives you all sorts of advantages: access is one of the best ones.

(Want to read more? Here’s an article I wrote about Career Services back in the summer: http://www.queensu.ca/sgs/news/careerservices.html … Enjoy!)

Posted in SGS Blog 2010-2011, Student Perspective

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