Supporting the MIT community, one query at a time: getting over job anxieties
If you would like Tech Support to take a look at your problems, please submit them at http://bit.ly/techsupportadvice. Questions have been edited for length, clarity, and content.
Tech Support: Hello, how may I help you?
Reader: As a senior, I’m starting to get a lot of questions about what I’m doing post-grad and I wish people would stop asking. I don’t have my life together or know what I want to do (still need to find a job first), and sometimes I get really anxious about what I’m going to be doing this time next year. Career fair didn’t help either, because they were mostly Course 6 companies. How can I feel less stressed about this?
Tech Support: Addressing the first part of your question, people (especially older adults) often ask what you are doing after graduation as a conversation starter and often don’t mean anything by it. I know it can be frustrating, but they may just be curious or simply have nothing else to say, so don’t let it affect you too much.
My recommendation would be that you talk to more people. Ask your department for help, or talk to people you already know, such as professors. Talk to people you don’t know as well, like alumni or connections of people you do know. People are often willing to help, and the value of talking to others — not just for your own information but also to start building your own network — is often underrated. I have been doing this myself lately, and while not every conversation will hit the jackpot, there is always something to learn each time, and I am often surprised by the people I end up connecting with who are willing to help me however they can if I only ask.
It can also be helpful to figure out what you like doing. Think about your past experiences and what you liked or absolutely hated about work, classes, and extracurriculars. Check in with yourself every so often to find out what energizes you in your daily life. More often than not, you will find that you have strengths and interests that are transferable to jobs. For instance, maybe you find that you really enjoy mentoring younger students in one of your clubs, or maybe you realize that you get energized and feel a lot better after talking to people as opposed to staying in your room. These are all insights that you can leverage during a job search, and they are qualities that are an asset to any company.
Lastly, don’t fret about having seen all the Course 6 related companies at Career Fair, because the world needs non-Course 6 people too. Just because Course 6 is a majority doesn’t mean that you are wrong for pursuing your path. And while you should put effort into figuring out post-graduation plans, don’t stress out too much about it. Nobody else knows what they are doing either, even if they seem to have a job lined up already, and we’re all really just trying to pretend that we have it together. As someone in your early 20s, you shouldn’t be expected to have it all figured out, so just take a first step in a direction that seems right for you at this moment in time. Things will change, and that’s alright.