Not going to lie, I was a bit flustered as I walked into Stumptown Coffee Roasters at 29th and Broadway in midtown Manhattan, just one minute past noon. While slightly out of breath, I was proud I managed to get there without a hitch, considering I had just spent over an hour on a train, relying on nothing but my newly installed NYC Subway app to tell me which stop to get off at, not to mention the half hour walk I had to take down a God-awful hill to even get to the subway in the first place. Guess that’s what you get for crashing at your best friend’s place all the way out in Riverdale. Oh well, at least it was a free stay.
Erin – who I had been introduced to via email just days before – greeted me with a hug. Erin is a Canisius alumna who kindly agreed to meet with me for an informational interview. With her background in digital media arts and creative talents, Professor O’Neil and Dr. Irwin thought our meeting would be a good fit, and I have to say I agree.
Small talk about the city and my crazy travels aside, I asked Erin to tell me her story. Conversation flowed easily as we talked about her journey from undergrad to running her own production company. I was surprised to hear the number and variety of jobs she’d had since graduating in 2009. From small start-ups to one of the largest advertising firms in NYC, Erin got a taste of many aspects of the advertising world. Some of it she liked, some of it she hated, but in each experience she learned something valuable.
Then it was time to share my story, or at least, the small portion of my story that’s complete and what I want to do for the rest of it. I found this a bit harder to talk about, because quite frankly, I have no clue what I want my story to be, let alone what I want to do for the next chapter. I was sure of my urge to travel, my talent with language and interacting with people, but other than that my plans sounded like a bunch of generalized ideas.
Graduation is just one month away. I’ve decided I’m not going to grad school, but I don’t exactly have a job lined up for the day after I walk across the stage. I have no doubt the tension in my voice was loud and clear as I struggled to give Erin a solid answer as to what I wanted to do with my post-graduation life.
Erin’s reassuring words instantly wiped away my nerves:
“There’s so much pressure put on seniors to get a job immediately. If having a job lined up right after graduation is what you need to feel okay and at ease, then do that, but if you need to take a year off, work in retail and live at your parents’ place to collect yourself and really figure out what you want to do next, then there’s nothing wrong with that either.”
I know myself well enough to know that I’d get too restless if were to move back to my parent’s house and work a minimum-wage job for a year, but Erin still may be on to something. What’s the rush in getting a job? What’s the point in giving into this pressure? Instead, why not calm down, cut myself some slack, and recognize that I have my entire life to figure everything out?
Sigh of relief.
After Erin graduated she worked at a toy store while working freelance on the side. After a year she had saved up $4000 and decided she was ready to move to NYC. She found an apartment on craigslist, drove down to check it out the next day, and in less than a week Erin became a New Yorker.
It can be that simple. It can be that easy.
By meeting with Erin for this informational interview, I not only gained a contact in NYC, I gained some peace of mind. I now know that it’s okay to be confused about where your life is, where it’s going or where you want it to be. I now know it’s okay to slow down and take whatever amount of time you need to reflect on what matters to you. It’s okay if your first job is not your idea of perfect, because the truth is, there’s a lot you should learn before you figure that out. Most importantly, I learned that all of us seniors have no need to worry because we do have time, an endless amount of it really, to figure out our stories, and knowing that should be calming enough to take the first step into our next chapter with confidence.