Response to “It's Okay To Not Know What's Next.”
Earlier this week, I was asked to speak at my alma mater (Go Illinois State Redbirds! Woo!) about life after graduation to a group of communication students. I and two other young graduates talked about what value we have gotten out of our work experiences since graduation, the easiest and hardest things to adjust to in your career and more. It was a blast and I am so glad they invited me, but it is crazy to me that three years ago, I was in their shoes, just as nervous, terrified and scared of the unknown.
Like many graduates, I had no idea what was upcoming. I was applying to jobs around my hometown with PR agencies and other communication positions. I had an internship lined up when the pandemic hit in March 2020. The internship program was put on hold and I was without a job and had no money coming in. I panicked, as most other people were at this time, and was upset that my plan was ruined. The “plan” was to get a job at a big PR agency where I would figure out what I liked to do and then go from there.
The thing about plans is that you can plan for them all you want, but it doesn’t mean it is always going to work out. I mean I planned on walking across that stage in 2020 with a job/internship lined up when I got home, celebrating with my friends and family. The world had other plans. But without that fork in the road, I would not have ended up at my dream job. It was not easy getting there. I had two internships and a part-time job before ending up at a full-time job. Just for me to not love it like I thought I would. But it all worked out.
It’s okay not to know what is next. That is the beauty, but also the nightmare, of life. Life tests you in so many ways and, honestly, pushes you to best version of yourself. I am a control freak and always look at what is up next. But remind yourself that you are doing all the right things: applying for jobs, networking, updating your resume, etc. All those things you are doing right now will work out for you. Even if it’s not your dream job, you are still using those skills and learning more about working that grind.
One of my biggest pieces of advice to those communication students is that if you were not ready, you wouldn’t have the opportunity. All of this is to say, don’t let the “3-5 years of experience” prevent you from applying or don’t diminish your successes and skills that would prevent you from being the best fit for the position. You are amazing. You got to where you are now and you should be so proud of that. Be confident in yourself and go for it. I was in your shoes and I promise you, it will all work out.