think about it
Your cart is empty

i have a degree. now, where’s my perfect job?

When I was younger I was unashamedly optimistic. I heard phrases such as ‘you can be anything you want to be’ and ate them right up, certain that this was how the world worked. My parents encouraged me wholeheartedly, telling me every day that I was going to be something. And I believed them. And I kept on believing them until I started university and came to the not very nice realisation that the world doesn’t always work that way, and you don’t always get what you want.

For starters, I had always been under the impression that a university degree automatically led to a job in the field in which you were studying. I’m not entirely sure how I pictured it, but it went sort of like this: finish degree and then get handed a job at graduation along with your certificate. Okay, so that is definitely how I pictured it.

Imagine my surprise when talking with my first year friends and learning that once you finish your degree, you have to apply for jobs. And not only that, but you may not always get the jobs you apply for. Now being someone who was incredibly sheltered for the entirety of their young life, my example is probably an extreme one. But after telling my own tale to other people, they have always responded with ‘that’s how I thought it worked too!’ coupled with a sheepish grin.

Granted, there are degrees that are much more likely to get you a job in the field you want, such as nursing, teaching and social work. But political science and creative writing? They definitely don’t have the same employment rate – at least not in a field that is at all relevant. And even with a degree it can be difficult to get a job in…any field at all.

Despite the fact that I’m still studying, the whole “having a mortgage thing” meant that studying simply was not a good enough excuse to avoid full-time work anymore. And while I was street smart enough to know that job adverts for opinion piece writers who are too lazy to reference were few and far between (I’m still holding out hope though), I decided to aim for work in administration, figuring I was pretty over-qualified so was guaranteed a job. Nope, once again life turned out differently than I thought it would. Getting a permanent position was tough. Degrees are no longer so much an advantage as they are an expectation. And even then, experience counts for a lot more than a piece of paper does.

But after months of writing selection criteria and receiving rejection emails, I finally got a permanent position. In an area that I couldn’t be less interested in, nor could I be less qualified for. But you know what? I’m still pretty darn happy.

There are so many quotes and articles out there telling us to live our dreams and not to settle for less. But sometimes we don’t have a choice. Not everyone is going to get that perfect job or utilise their degree exactly as they pictured when they were a bright-eyed teen. And that doesn’t make life any less meaningful or fulfilling.

I’m not writing this to say ‘don’t go to university’ or ‘don’t follow your dreams’. What I’m saying is: ‘Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t turn out exactly as you planned.’ We have this idea that if you aren’t doing your dream job, then you’re somehow wasting your life. I don’t count my time at university as wasted years. I met wonderful people, learned how to write a mean essay, learned a lot about myself, and had fun. And my time in administration isn’t wasted time either, for the same reasons (only replace the word essay with incredibly boring unbiased documents).

If you’re happy, have enjoyed your experiences and have the time to do the things you love – even if it’s during lunch hours or after work – then your life is as full as anyone could hope a life to be, even if you’re not exactly where you pictured yourself ten years ago.

So study what you’re passionate about, aim as high as you can, don’t feel discouraged when you encounter rejection (because I can guarantee that you most certainly will) and have as grand a time as anyone, regardless of whether you end up where up where you thought you would or not.

6 thoughts on “i have a degree. now, where’s my perfect job?

  1. I am sitting on my couch, 6 months after finishing Honours, still applying for entry-level jobs. I know your pain, and I hope I can find a job soon (even a boring one!). I don’t think uni students are really prepared for the period after their degree ends; everyone expects a job, but finish and find themselves faced with months of agony. It’s almost enough to make you want to do education!

  2. “Granted, there are degrees that are much more likely to get you a job in the field you want, such as nursing…”
    I’m not sure if you actually know any nursing graduates, Kaylia, but from what I’ve seen, due to government budget cuts it’s honestly easier to get a job in ANY other industry right now. Nurses may have been in the guaranteed-a-job box two or three years ago, but (just a heads up) that is no longer even remotely relevant or true.

  3. I’m in luck. I haven’t even finished my degree, and I was offered the job of a lifetime. I’m now 2 years into working fulltime with an amazing job, amazing clients and a sense of purpose. I got the job because I had experience, not a piece of paper. My experience was more valuable than my degree. But working fulltime has delayed the end of my undergraduate degree… for what seems like forever. I can’t study more than one unit at a time. Between fulltime work and other commitments in my busy life, I barely have time to graduate. But I want to, so I will, eventually. Most importantly, I’ll graduate with a few years of experience working fulltime in a relevant, competitive job. Sometimes, awesome things happen. Stay positive. And don’t forget the importance of experience.

  4. Ha.. love it.. Only in Disneyland do you get what you want.. life has a habit of slapping you in the face and saying wake up.. Welcome to the real world.

  5. I had a similar shake-up when I graduated with my first degree, in Mass Communcications. Two years after graduating I still work in a bar and a petrol station while I do my Masters. I know the best way to get into the industries I want to work in is to intern and volunteer, but even then I find it hard when I have to devote so much of my time to paying the rent. And even then, I’m not sure the jobs I want even exist in the city I live in. I might have to make them up.

  6. Great article. People shouldn’t be too cynical about the value of education or following their dreams.

    Many people (including myself) often forget that when we hear phrases like ‘you can be anything you want to be’ or ‘follow your dreams’, neither of them come with a guarantee that you will be that ‘anything’, or reach those dreams, immediately upon graduation, or even by the time you’re 25, or 30, or 35.

    When I list my favourite artists, novellists, journalists, leaders etc, only a small percentage of them had reached ‘success’ at a young age. Your life upon graduation is not how the rest of your life will be. Just because you’re ‘settling’ for less than your dream right now doesn’t mean that’s how it will always be, if you continue to work hard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *