So, What Is Your Next Step?


Jordan Davis

Respectively from left to right, junior Trevor Brooks, sophomore Patrick Almony and junior Kyle Starrett. These three best friends and roommates discuss their plans, or lack thereof, after graduation.

Jordan Davis, Staff Writer

Bridgewater Va. –

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“What are your plans after graduation?”

“What do you even want to do with your major?”

All of these questions and more we have heard on repeat since turning our tassels at our high school graduation. 

Now some of us have our lives planned out step-by-step, but for others, it is a completely different story. 

When I see my friends and classmates’ eyes light up when they are asked those questions, I get envious. I feel like I am not where I am supposed to be as others my age are getting married, having babies and/or having a life agenda with a detailed explanation of what they aim to do.

For myself, however, I feel like I have no clue. 

Considering that I do not know how to respond to those questions, anxiety sets in, followed by an awkward silence. It is almost as if I do not know what I want to do with my life.

And that is okay. 

Over 37,000 undergraduates and 1,500 high school and college students were asked about their career aspirations. 52 percent of students agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “I have no idea what I want to do with my career.”

We are not alone.

The world is home to more than 7.2 billion people, but according to new research findings by the Asian Development Bank and Harvard University, only 6.7 percent have college degrees. 

Being a part of that nearly 7 percent is phenomenal, because every student has faced either mental, emotional, financial and physical problems while maintaining grades and classes during a worldwide pandemic. 

At this point in our lives, we are not expected to have everything planned out. We are still young. Graduating college does not make us “old” because we have our whole life in front of us. 

Business Insider gives advice to those who do not know what to do with their life after college: 

  1. Know this is normal; accept and understand that your dream career is not always a straight path.
  2. Consider your strengths; “What skills do I have to offer?”, “What are my strongest personality traits?”, “What do I do best?”
  3. What type of work environments excite you? 
  4. Make a list of job elements and tasks that you enjoy and dislike; what is the most important part of a job to you? 
  5. Contemplate your level of education; certification classes, online courses, graduate school.
  6. Look at your experience level and what you have to offer. 
  7. Reach out to others and network.

Indeed also adds to this list by suggesting:

  1. Become a research assistant.
  2. Take a gap year.
  3. Find an internship.
  4. Find volunteer opportunities.
  5. Take a public service position. 
  6. Work for your college.
  7. Move to a new place.

Even if you are still stuck on what industry you want to go in, do not worry. People change occupations more often than one would think. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics published the findings of a report on the number of times people changed jobs. By researching those between the ages of 18 and 48, that were born between 1957 and 1964, BLS found that these individuals changed jobs an average of 11.7 times. 

If you do not know what you want to do with the rest of your life, you are not a failure.

Give yourself some grace. Time and gained experiences will help to figure things out.