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November 4, 2008 12:33 PM   Subscribe

I graduated from university a few months ago, and have absolutely no idea what to do next. After reading about my past and current circumstances, could you swell folks offer me some suggestions?

Although I did quite well in high school, my experience studying liberal arts in university was checkered. I went to a good Canadian school, and performed reasonably well academically, but there is undoubtedly a whiff of mediocrity emanating from my years there.

My mental health was at a low ebb during portions of my time there. This made it extremely difficult to concentrate on anything at all, much less academic work. I graduated without writing a thesis. This lack of purely academic prowess would be negated by good work experience and other extracurricular things, but I didn't focus on these either. Despite a few half-assed efforts in these areas, I was probably one of the most aloof people to ever attend this particular university. I didn't do any internships, nor did I form any lasting contacts with professors. I really didn't have any idea why I was even attending university in the first place.

Now that I've graduated, I have no idea what to do. I've been living at home and working a couple of so-so jobs, but this is driving me nuts. I've been thinking about teaching English in a foreign country, but I'm not sure. Does travel help? I have absolutely no desire to do an MA, or any other schooling, at the present time.

The thing is, I'm well aware that you can do well in life without having accomplished a billion things during your youth. Many people - intelligent people, at that - have faced similar problems, I'm sure. Perhaps you're one of them. I shouldn't be too whiny. But some help would be much appreciated. Does anyone have suggestions?
posted by Lemon of Byzantium to Education (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Organic farming apprenticeship? It will be a big change from where you've been and you might find it gives you some time to think. Physical work can be helpful. Travel is good, I think, sometimes. Depends how you do it.
posted by sully75 at 12:57 PM on November 4, 2008

A university education doesn't necessarily prepare you for an eventual career. Especially at the undergraduate level a university is mostly about learning how to learn. It's about organization, preparation, study skills, working with others and having the long-term follow-through to get your degree.

Along the way, a lot of people figure out what they want to do with their lives. A lot of people don't.

So you've been there, done that and you still don't know.

Time to get out there and figure it out by trying on different roles and having as many different experiences as you can until something clicks.

Do you like photography? Try to find an internship and maybe it becomes a career.
Think teaching overseas would be cool? Try it. It will change your life.

In short, (assuming) you have no mortgage, no kids, minimal expenses and nothing else holding you back now is the time to try anything you think might be interesting. Don't worry about it being perfect or relating to your degree or turning into a fabulous career. Just try things on... a lot of things. You are lucky to have that chance.
posted by pixlboi at 1:00 PM on November 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

You could volunteer at some non-profits to gain some experience and references.
posted by All.star at 2:25 PM on November 4, 2008

Go join the Canadian Coast Guard and go rescue people for a living.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:29 PM on November 4, 2008

If traveling and teaching English abroad is appealing to you, do it! Go see the parts of the world that are interesting to you; you for sure will not regret it.
posted by kirstk at 3:39 PM on November 4, 2008

Did I miss it, or did you mention what your major was? You mention teaching English abroad, but I didn't see you mention that your major was English, though that's my assumption.

I'd say working for a while might clear your head. What do you like to do? What interests you? Having a degree, even if your background is not stellar, will open plenty of doors, particularly at university gigs. If you think you'd like teaching, you might look into alternative certification. But I think some time just working and figuring out what you really want to do in life might be the best thing.

Washing dishes full time convinced me that I wanted to go to college in the first place. Give that a try. It's powerfully motivating.
posted by wheat at 4:51 PM on November 4, 2008

I think you'd probably get more clarity if you moved away from home (I'm guessing you live with parents.) In my youth I lived with my parents for longer than I should have, which made it hard to pick "better" things to do. Just get out and go, and hopefully inspiration will come. Travel while you can; take some risks. Do physical work for a while if possible: using your body can be usefully grounding.
posted by anadem at 5:35 PM on November 4, 2008

This could have been written by me three years ago. Good school, unimpressive grades and career clueless. After graduating I taught English in South Korea for a year and had a fabulous time. Now I'm back in Canada working at a crappy job and still clueless about what I want to do. Sorry, but if you're like me you probably need a bit of a scare.

Go travel. I'm sure you've heard this a billion times already, but this is the best time of your life to wander and explore. I know that my year away and subsequent travels made me grow and change so much as a person. But you should know that unless you are lucky and realize that your passion in life is teaching ESL or working on an organic farm, you may come back to Canada and realize that you still haven't figured out what it is you want to do with your life.

Go travel! But be proactive about it. Take every opportunity that's offered to you and chat with everyone you see. If you're like me, you have a tendency to be a bit of a lump and regret not doing things afterward (e.g. the whole university experience). You need to change this now. And be proactive about what it is you're going to do career-wise. Think about it, talk to people about it, read books about it because this is an issue that is not going to solve itself, I KNOW WHEREOF I SPEAK. Take advantage of your university's career centre, ok??

Ok, I'm not sure if this was me trying to help you or me venting about my own life. MeMail me if you want to commiserate or ask me questions.
posted by Rora at 10:44 AM on November 5, 2008

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