Entering the workforce after college

Sentinel reporter reflects on life post-college

When so many years of your life are spent in academia, it’s hard not to reflect on how much of your existence is influenced by school experiences. School acts like a glue that seemingly holds your life together. Think about it–you’re provided with a sense of structure from the first moment that you toddle into preschool until the day you walk triumphantly across the college graduation stage to accept the most expensive piece of paper you’ll ever own. Each new school year motivates you to keep moving forward as you set new goals, learn new lessons and work toward bettering yourself and the community.

I recently graduated from Messiah College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism. As a December 2017 graduate, I was lucky enough to find a job in my field less than a month after graduation. While I’ve enjoyed the working life so far, I often catch myself thinking about how school prepared me for where I am now, and it’s sometimes difficult to remember that I’m not a student anymore. But it’s even more difficult to come to grips with the fact that I never have to go back to school…ever.

It really is the most bittersweet feeling I’ve ever had.

On one hand, I never have to worry about homework, capstone research, finals, shower shoes or dining hall food ever again.

But on the other hand, I met some of the greatest friends and mentors in school. I even met the love of my life. I discovered my talents and developed my interests and opinions. I learned about the world around me and how I can contribute to it. How am I supposed to deal with the fact that the structure I had become so accustomed to, the thing that made me who I am, is suddenly over for good?

At first, these thoughts genuinely saddened me when I graduated from college. I liked the excitement and anticipation that back-to-school season brought each year and the chance to start things over. So, I’m honestly a little jealous of the kids who are shopping for their college dorms and figuring out what classes they’re going to take this year because that chapter of my life has just written its ending. I know that adulthood would come eventually, but it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be when I drove away from my college campus for the first time, knowing that the next time I came back, it would be as an alum, not a student.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize how much of a blessing graduation has been. Adulthood isn’t easy, but I am now free to build my own structure. My school experiences, both the good and the bad, provided me with the lessons I needed in order to know how to function on my own. I don’t need school in order to keep learning or taking on new adventures because my education didn’t just teach me mathematics, history or how to write a 10 page paper in one night. It also taught me countless lessons on how to work hard, how to care for myself and others and, most importantly, it taught me to never stop searching for the good in the world around me.

I think I’ll always feel a twinge of nostalgia whenever I remember the good old days of high school and college. But I know that my education prepared me well to take on my new role as an “entry-level adult.” As cliched as it sounds, my teachers were right when they said you never stop learning. The world is now my school, teaching me new things, introducing me to new people and showing me what I’m capable of everyday. So while college graduation may have been a bittersweet ending, I know that I’ll never truly stop being a student because my next adventure, full of lessons and new experiences, is only just beginning.