Senior Status: Deciding Where to Go Post-Grad

One of the harder decisions for after graduation is deciding where you want to end up. You might have once dreamed about living in NYC, but does that still seem like a possibility now with the job market and the career you want? If you’ve spent your whole life, including college, living close to family, is it time to move away or can you not stand the thought of leaving them behind? For some, it’s as simple as moving to wherever you can find a job. For others, this could be the hardest decision since deciding where to apply for college.

After college is when your life truly begins. Or so everyone says. We have our first real jobs, a house or apartment to ourselves, and we’re completely responsible for our own well being. If that doesn’t sound stressful enough, we have to figure out where will make us happiest—or at least where we can tolerate living until something better comes along. So where do we begin deciding what we want to do and where we want to go?

It seems the best way to go about this decision is to talk to advisors about a career path. Meet with your favorite professors in your field, go to career services at your school, and even talk to your family about what you can do with your degree. Though you might not know what you want to do down to the job title, you probably have some idea as to what kind of workplace you can see yourself in—after all, thinking about a future job is probably what got you into your college major. But if you’ve changed your mind about the career path you may have begun forging for yourself with your degree and internships, definitely do some research on your own and take advantage of people on campus to figure out the best next steps.

When you do have a career path in mind and know what kind of position you want—and can be hired for—it’s time for more research. Though you might feel qualified for a position after your undergrad work, sometimes certain fields or job titles require a higher level of education. Others might scare you in their job descriptions with requests for people with years of experience in the field. Don’t let these things discourage you. If you’re holding off on graduate school or just know you never want to bother with it, it’s important to look into other options; if you’re dead-set on a certain position though, you may want to reconsider your nay to graduate school if it’s needed.

Once you figure out what skills you have, what kind of job you want and can get hired for, it’s time to think about who you want to work for. Obviously, a major part of this decision is paying attention to who’s hiring. But before getting into all that, you should make a list of companies where you would like to work. For example, as an art history major, I looked into a lot of museums, including the big well-knowns like MoMA. Check out their websites, find out what positions they have open or even if they have any internships you can start off with. Though you might not get a job at the big-name companies right off the bat, at least you’ll start to have an idea of what kind of experience they want in their staff and the kinds of positions they offer. If you have a certain place you want to live, start with those companies and begin crafting resumes and cover letters for there first. Though it might be scary, don’t be afraid to apply to jobs farther from home and in places you’d never expect to live in. Even if you don’t end up there long term, it’s a good foot in the door to have and can lead to an even better future.

Ultimately, the decision is up to you. Take advantage of your family, friends, and campus services to help set you on the right path for you. But don’t be afraid to go after what you really want, even if your family will be on the other side of the world or your friends don’t like your decision. This is where your life really begins, and you can live it the way you want to.

Happy researching!

Tonya Nelson

About Tonya Nelson

Tonya is a senior at Syracuse University majoring in art history and magazine journalism. She is currently spending the summer studying abroad in Italy. She loves to read, write, paint, and play with her dog in her spare time.