When I finished college and moved to Charleston I was more excited than nervous. Unlike many of my friends who entered the workforce right out of undergrad, I began graduate school just weeks after receiving my B.A. I was glad that I didn’t have to worry about finding a full-time job and that I could continue studying history. But now that my two years of graduate school have come to a close, I face the same dilemma my friends did after leaving undergrad: What do I do with my life?
The question itself is much more frightening than the reality. Whether you came into graduate school with work experience or not, you leave with something more important. That is, the satisfaction that you obtained a graduate education, which is something you will keep for the rest of your life. Regardless of what you do afterwards, working towards your degree was a rewarding experience.
As for myself, I currently do marketing for a local real estate company. This isn’t something I want to do for the rest of my life and thanks to my M.A. in History from CofC I am prepared for further study if I chose to take that route one day. If not, the transferrable skills I acquired through graduate study prepared me for a variety of jobs and opportunities outside of academia. I suppose the moral of the story is don’t feel trapped by your situation right out of graduate school. You are equipped with the necessary skills to succeed in your chosen field thanks to your education, it just might take a bit of time in order to get to the place that you want to be. Your friends who went on to the workforce right out of undergrad understand your situation.
So life in the business world is different from grad school. Not necessarily better, but surely different. Pure research is a wonderful thing; the ivory-tower isolation, the focus, and the unhurried pace may be the only way that some problems can be attacked. In taking a job, you’ll trade that life for a steady paycheck and a universe of opportunities to work with other people on fantastic projects.
I meant this post to provide a realistic guide to how your life will be different in the business world. Don’t be daunted or put-off by the differences. Millions of grad students have made successful and lucrative careers outside the College of Charleston. I did it. You can too.