You’ve graduated. So what’s next?

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So you’ve finished your undergrad degree. You have earned every inch of that certificate declaring that you are the Bachelor of Something-Great-That-Hopefully-Will-Land-You-A-Great-Job-Soon. Your parents have bought you flowers on your graduation day. You have thrown that hat with all your might and gotten that awesome picture taken for your profile picture on Facebook.

You’ve graduated. So what’s next?

Like every other Bachelor’s degree holder, I’ve been struggling with the ‘what’s next’ question for months during my graduation period. I have graduated from Bachelor of Arts in the University of Melbourne, Australia, in December 2012. Back then, there were too many options on what to do next after graduation. I could do Honours in Psychology, Master in Journalism, or go back home to Jakarta, Indonesia and try to find work.

Well yes, it’s either further studies or work, but sadly it’s not that black and white.

My parents wanted me to take that Honours in Psychology, as I have actually been offered a spot among 70 others. I, myself, have my heart torn in two – I love psychology, but not to the extent of actually making it a lifetime career. And I love writing. But I’m not sure in doing Master of Journalism either.

Finding jobs in Australia was hard (still is), and as another holder of neither temporary resident or permanent resident visa, 99.9 per cent of the job opportunities closed their doors on me.

Thus, despite the urge of my parents and suggestions from my friends, I decided to pack my bags, to leave Melbourne – my home for the past three years, and to go back to my homeland.

Going home has been quite a challenge for me. All Indonesians who have gone overseas and back must have known how this feels. First, you are back to being your parents’ little boy or girl. Second, the reality starts to hit you that you are now an adult who will be working real jobs at real companies.

My parents know this. They know the pressure of working life, and perhaps that’s why they offer some other choices – doing Master’s or Honours possibly, to delay this phase of life.

But I’m really glad that I decided to go to work.

Having been a full-time employee for six months now, I have learned so, so much. And it’s not only about the theoretical stuffs on how to actually do your job, but also about the soft skills – how to do presentations, how to negotiate with clients, how to work in a team, how to work with your boss/for your boss, and how to deal with real life pressure.

These are invaluable stuffs that I know will equip me with so much knowledge if I decided to pack my bags once again and take that student profession back.

And during this holiday period, I visited Melbourne once more, catching up with some friends whom decided to take the other path – doing Honours, Master’s, or further studies of some sorts.

Of course, they are happy with their choices. Master’s degree is hard, and perhaps it should be. One friend explains it as, “During undergrad years, you have this set of strategies on which you can apply to your studies and you’ll be okay. In Master’s, you need to swim through endless learning and figure out everything by yourself.”

Another friend thinks while she loves and enjoys her Master’s, she would probably get much more from her degree if she has worked first – as currently she has no real life case studies to fall back to when learning the theories.

That said, another friend says he wouldn’t trade his decision for anything, for he loves the challenge that he gets in learning Master’s.

So what’s next for you? Are you thinking of doing Master’s, or going to work first?

There’s no right or wrong answer, and only you can make the ultimate choice. Friends, parents, and mentors might have their say, but in the end, choose something that will bring peace to your heart. Make your own choices. And don’t live to regret them. Because either way, you’ll learn the necessary invaluable lessons to build your future.

 

Photo by Tjokro Aminoto.

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Marcella Purnama
Marcella Purnama is a blogger and author of What I Wish I Had Known: And Other Lessons Learned in Your Twenties. Despite excelling in all things science, she went to study Arts and stumbled into writing. After graduating from her Bachelor’s degree, Marcella worked as a content writer at both nonprofit and corporate settings before throwing in the towel to get a Master’s in Publishing and Communications. She was a former IndonesiaMengglobal editor from 2013–2015. Read her thoughts at www.marcellapurnama.com.