Written by: Áine O’Neill
Design by: Rachel Fitzjohn
From the moment you enter the shiny new gates to higher education there is always one looming question you face, what will I do after graduation?
Whilst there is an innate happiness surrounding this topic, there is also a colossal pressure. With so many options and such little time to decide, the graduating year of college can lead to severe pressure. The purpose of this article is to explore the options which hundreds of graduating students face every year. By the time you enter your final year of college you are met with this surge of overwhelming pressure to have your life together. With the burdens of the real world looming ever closer as semester one turns into semester two, students are encouraged by their parents, lecturers and peers to have a concrete plan; a path in life. These overwhelming emotions are felt so uniquely in your twenties, that time is your enemy and you must have a concrete plan. A reality faced by many graduating students is an immense pressure to have a plan even though we are merely out of our teenage years. The ever building fear mongering question of “What do you plan to do next year?” slowly becomes the norm in conversations with friends and family as we all struggle to grasp some sort of a plan.
Yes, graduating college is a happy time but there is often a sense of fear surrounding it, yet nobody addresses this. The pressure we feel is a symbol of our generations culture. We have afforded the opportunity to access third level education, perhaps being the first in our family to attend, however, once we are in the system, nobody gives you advice about your next move, post-graduation.
We are conditioned since the time we are young to go to college but the question for following college lingers; then what?? There is an inherent fear to perform as we did in the leaving certificate, yet this time the stakes are higher as it could control our path for the rest of our lives. The social pressure felt is extenuated more by job fairs ran by colleges, presentations done by the career’s services and indeed your own peers as right before our own eyes we see deadlines in college turn into masters and job applications.
There are various paths one can take, with each of these options posing their own challenges. You are met with opportunities such as working abroad, entering a masters, or full time employment. Perhaps the most common and traditional route taken by many students is the option of a masters. That said, it must be stated that these can be expensive. Also, masters have such a wide variety of paths after it that it can be just as open ended as an undergraduate degree. You witness classmates turn into rivals as you compete for the same place on a masters course, whether you like it or not you realize your journey in college is coming to an end and you are not a person, you are your QCA. In contrast, the idea of working abroad has really moved to the fore as a viable option for recent graduates.
Places like United Arab Emirates, Australia and Canada have all become homes for new Irish graduates as they can offer exceptional opportunities. Not only is the weather better but you are given incentives to move such as paid flights and/or accommodation. With this option comes, new job prospects in a new environment, a chance to meet new people and grow your network. The only negative is that most of these jobs come with at least two year contracts which you are tied too and sometimes you may end up going alone. The final option is full time employment. Although this option was born during the Celtic tiger where jobs and money was in abundance, it must be recognized that this option has become increasingly difficult in recent years due to a higher demand for master degrees and a few years’ experience before you can even apply for a job.
Indeed, the pressure felt by the class of 2020 will never measure to any other year, we have single handidly faced a pandemic together whilst being never more apart. In a year where the pressures of life have truly been magnified, it has also afforded us the opportunity to take a step back and consider more than most graduating classes what we want as deadlines have extended and time to a certain extent has stood still. Under these extraordinary times may our legacy be the year who did not let this year define us but make us strive for success in whatever path we take in our lives.