As the upcoming semester approaches, students who are in their final year of study may be experiencing some confusion about what to do after graduation. It can be understandably anxiety-inducing with the sudden pressure of entering the “real world” after years of being in school.
The options for post-graduates are not limited to simply finding a stable job. There are a variety of paths for those leaving college or university, whether it be continuing their education in graduate school, diving into the workforce or even travelling.
Phillip Cruz, who studied architectural technology at George Brown College, recalls contemplating his career path in his second semester and being unsure of whether or not he wanted to continue with the program.
“I felt the need of having to go to school somewhere for something and because I took a fifth-year in high school, I felt that I was playing a game of catch-up and didn’t have the time to really reflect on the choices I was making career-wise,” Cruz says.
Despite his doubts, Cruz proceeded with architectural technology and eventually graduated in 2019. Two months after graduating, he was able to find a full-time job as a technician at AutoCAD and has worked there ever since.
“I’ve experienced so many highs and lows and I feel that all of these experiences are things I can take with me wherever I go, whether that be in my next workplace or just in life in general,” Cruz says.
It’s very common for post-graduates to feel unsure about the path they are currently on.
According to Statistics Canada, graduates with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, engineering, education or computer and information science are more likely than other graduates to find a job within their field of study. Those with bachelor’s degrees in arts and humanities or social and behavioural sciences are more likely to obtain work in jobs that typically only require high school education.
Gary-Joseph Panganiban graduated from Ryerson University’s journalism program in 2021. He had known since high school that journalism was something he was passionate about and wished to pursue as a career.
However, after transferring from Dawson College in Montreal to Ryerson University in Toronto, Panganiban felt increasingly pressured about his future after graduation.
“There were different circumstances, and it was a new city. There was a lot to deal with,” he says. “I was so scared that I put all these expectations on myself, although I was too afraid to think about them as well. It turned into this loop of overthinking, worrying and lack of self-confidence.”
Now that he has wrapped up his university courses, Panganiban set his sights on travelling to Calgary to see his long-distance girlfriend. He also hopes to explore creative pathways in the future.
“Looking a bit more down the line, I would love to use my entrepreneurial side and build my own thing, whether it’s a project, [or] a YouTube channel, a social media channel or even a start-up,” he says. “My options are very open.”
While having a wide array of options can be beneficial for post-graduates, it can also be overwhelming. A 2019 study by the Harvard Business Review found that millennials and Generation Z tend to experience higher levels of anxiety than older generations when it comes to career paths. The study suggests that this may be due to the comparison between younger generations versus older generations, as well as the influence of social media.
For Cruz, he compares himself to others as a “driving force” in order to improve, although he does recognize how doing this can negatively impact people.
“With the high standards that we see all over social media, it’s hard to not get even a little intimidated by all of the success you see,” says Cruz. “Especially when you’re not in the best of places mentally, sometimes you want to give up before even starting.”
Panganiban felt similarly when he moved to Toronto.
“When I came to Ryerson, I constantly compared myself to others. Because I didn’t believe in myself, I lacked that self-confidence,” he says. “And I just wanted to know, am I keeping up with these other talented individuals? Will I make it? Will I become the journalist that I wanted or want to be like?”
For those about to graduate, Cruz suggests brainstorming options and doing whatever it is that feels right for them.
“It’s normal to feel overwhelmed. Opportunities may not present themselves to you right away, or maybe they will,” he says. “Do whatever it takes to find that one thing you want to strive for, and master it. Practice it and improve on it.”
Panganiban advises post-graduates that being kind to themselves should be one of their major priorities.
“It’s easy to beat yourself up and feel like you’re lagging or feel like you’re not doing enough and sort of get mad at yourself because of that,” he says. “I think the first step is understanding where you’re at and how you feel your own emotions, keeping in mind that being nice to yourself can help you better understand those feelings.”
About the author
Alyssa Bravo is a former reporter for Youth Mind. She is a coffee fiend and likes music, movies and food. She wishes to travel to Italy and Greece, and hopes she’ll live to see the day the Toronto Maple Leafs win their 14th championship. When she’s not writing, you can probably find her watching videos of dogs or baby pandas.