The Big, Terrible, Horrible Question of What to Do After Graduation

Christine Lyons is a fourth-year English student.


The Big, Terrible, Horrible Question of What to Do After Graduation

Christine Lyons is a fourth-year English student.

For some people, this question may not be horrible. They might have an answer to it. I, however, don’t. And so, this question terrifies me.

The question of what to do after graduation is more terrifying than:

  • That commercial with the house hippo where you aren’t sure if the house hippo exists or not.
  • Pretending that it wasn’t you who ate the last cookie, and blaming it on someone else instead, and hoping that no one ever finds out that it was actually you all along.
  • When you drop your poutine.

When someone asks me what I’m doing after I graduate in April, I typically respond with one of these three options.

1. “I totally have a plan.”


This is the old “I’ve got it all figured out” approach. Here, I feign confidence. I’m so confident that it seems like employers have already thrown jobs at me, with moderate yet substantive starting salaries. (Note: this hasn’t happened.)

2. “It’s only November. I have plenty of time.”


This line goes alongside the classic, “I’m young; I’ll figure it out later.” This is the best way to stall having to answer the big, terrible, horrible question that was asked.

3. “I’m not sure yet.”

who am i

This is the most terrifying answer you can give. And, for me, it’s the most honest. I don’t have a plan for after graduation, and while I still have a few months until graduation, choosing a career deserves a few months of attention. It’s one of those decisions that can keep you up at night. You need to think about it. A lot. And then you need to try it out, re-assess, and think about it some more.

The question “What am I going to do after graduation?” is terrifying because it actually asks eight million smaller questions. Will I go straight into the workforce? Where can I get a job? Where do I want to get a job? Where will I live? All of these questions need to be thought about.

Right now, I don’t have the answer to any of these questions. Fortunately, I have a bit of a solution. Carleton has a Co-Op and Career Services Office. This office is more than equipped to handle students who are asking the existential questions, “Who am I?” and, “What will I do?”

If you’re like me and you aren’t sure what to do after graduation, go give Career Services a visit. Who knows? You may even see me, or some other confused graduating student, trying to answer the same big questions.

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