Graduation Desperation

by Karissa Bursch

As my last blog post for Platform Magazine I find it only fitting to write about the one thing that has been on my mind almost 98 percent of the time since spring break . . . and that is graduation. Yes, it has finally come and gone — both the most dreaded and looked-forward-to event for every college student.

The end of the spring semester of my senior year has passed me by and suddenly I find myself in a pool of fellow graduates constantly talking about life plans, graduate school plans, summer plans, wedding plans, home and apartment plans, job plans . . . needless to say our conversations involve a lot of plans.

I am just as enthusiastic as any other graduate. I constantly describe to my friends and classmates my ideal future of moving to Atlanta with my boyfriend, buying a cute little dog or cat and working at a chic public relations firm hopefully in the environmental or international vein.

However, despite all my enthusiasm and excitement, I feel this growing knot in my stomach. Will it all work out? Where do I belong? What am I really supposed to do? What is really going to happen? Is it the right choice?

I’ve realized, I’m just so . . . free. I could move anywhere, I could do anything. The endless array of choices and the uncertainty of the future is daunting. Public relations especially gives you that ability to do a lot of things. How do you channel that PR drive?

I decided to do some research and a surprisingly large number of articles came up about post-graduation anxiety. It can happen to anybody, those with plans after graduation and those without, because even with plans you can still feel that gnawing fear that you’re not making the right choice.

Here are some resources and tips to help those in the same boat as me, a public relations graduate with a few butterflies flying around in her stomach:

In an article in The Guardian by Lyndsey Winship titled “Reality Blues,” Winship discusses the different stresses that come along with post-graduation life including the uncertainty of where you’ll end up or the shock of suddenly working at a high-stress job after the laid back atmosphere of college.

Winship recommends looking to advisers and your alma mater for help, “Surely [these stresses] need not be an inevitable stumbling block? With so many students facing difficulties, is there anything being done to make the transition more seamless? Careers services do provide advice, resources and seminars to help students with their decision making, and new research projects are under way, aiming to help students recognize the skills they have learned and apply them in the workplace.”

Also there is a very helpful page on the PRSSA website titled “Beyond Graduation: Onward with Confidence.” In coalition with PRSA,PRSSA provides different resources to PR graduates searching for their next move.

These resources include the membership form for the PRSA associate membership, the listing of the PRSA chapters across the U.S., information on the “New Professionals Section,” a subgroup of PRSA for members who are new to the profession, a link to the PRSA Job Center, information on how to get accreditation in public relations and information on graduate school.

There are also networking websites that can get you in touch with young professionals and recent graduates such as LinkedIn or PR Starbase, a social network for PR pros, MarCom experts and creative and digital freelancers, which even has a group within the site titled “Recent Graduates.”

It is resources like these that can help public relations graduates like me sleep better at night; and even with all of these resources I still think that a lot lies in the experience and skills that you’ve garnered over the past four years.

While I may not know where I’m going to be tomorrow, in a week, a month or even a year, I know that I worked hard over the past four years to get this degree and I have gained much experience along the way. With resources like those above available for us recent graduates coupled with making sure that we stay open and supportive as a community of young professionals, I know we can all succeed. It’s all about remaining positive and confident, and not letting those butterflies in your stomach get the best of you!

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