You graduated- now what? (The most cliché of all blog titles.)

Submitted by Michelle Preston, Class of 2012

Fall 2009: I was going to graduate college in three and a half years. I was to go to grad school in that open semester, and graduate with my Master’s a semester early.  That was the plan.  There’s always a plan in the fall of your freshman year, but life never works out exactly like you planned.  I am proud to say that I graduated last month, December 2012, with my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology; never changed my major, never struggled to graduate early.  Perfect.  Check.  Grad school?  We shall see.

Graduating before my friends in the Class of 2013, yet after the Class of 2012, put me in a position that made me very independent.  I became “real-life stressed” just as the seniors last year were finding out about their post-grad jobs and graduate school applications, and long before my friends who are seniors now began thinking about life after college.  I thought I had to figure out my whole life in my last semester, while balancing massive extracurriculars, a full-time course load, constant “We have to go (insert location here) before you graduate!”, a part time job, and a volunteer position at the Florida Hospital for Children.

The answer I found as to what I’m going to do with my life?  I still don’t know, but I did learn that that’s okay.  As a recent grad with a psychology degree, I’m trying to answer the extremely popular question of–to go to grad school, or not?  With the help of my family and some wonderful mentors, I am figuring this out.  In looking at the largest companies in Central Florida, I realized that I had managed to put myself in two of the big ones: The Walt Disney World Company, and the Florida Hospital.  I am currently keeping my part-time role at Disney in order to network and use the internal hiring system, as well as the fact that I get paid to be a pirate, play with kids, and advise people about where they should eat dinner in EPCOT.  Who could ask for better interim position?

I have found, while doing extensive job research, that my love of people and my knack for reading them may be leading me towards human resources and recruiting work.  Resulting from friends and professional connections, I have a meet and greet scheduled with a Casting Agent at Disney to learn how she ended up in recruiting, to find out more about the profession, and to do a little networking, of course.  There are many internships in human resources- some paid, some unpaid, but hey- I graduated early.  Isn’t right now the perfect time to be figuring this out?

I have never been the type of person to make a five year plan and stick to it as if it were my only hope.  I honestly have no idea what the next five years hold for me.  What do I know?  I know that I love people, and I will probably fit in wherever I end up.  I have a pretty awesome resume thanks to my experiences at Rollins, research experience from the Psych Department, great professor and staff connections, and a college degree from a school very highly respected by companies.  I even have a pretty comprehensive “Linked In” page, complete with a personal statement!   I’m not sure if the world actually is my oyster, but it certainly feels like it.

As I said to my first-year mentees all semester, “In the end, you have to follow your own path- live your dreams, and other people will support you for it.”  I suppose it’s time to listen to my own advice.

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