Have you ever seen that Lipton Iced Tea ad about the job interview? The woman being interviewed is a Communications graduate. When asked what her degree means she replies with “I have no idea.” I feel you, unidentified Comms student, I feel you.
As much as the ad is based on the idea of being ‘refreshingly honest’ in a humorous way, it really speaks volumes about our choices in university degrees. With an overwhelming push towards a university education upon exit from high school, many Gen Y students are urged firmly upstream with the rest of the confused fish and land squarely in a degree they maybe, possibly, think they will enjoy. And hopefully get a job out of.
I hadn’t found my niche but in hindsight, I had found something equally valuable – I knew what I didn’t want to do.
I graduated high school with the intention of being a writer. No surprises there. With a firm passion for Extension English and the wondrous dreams of only having to go to uni three times a week, I was hooked. I was accepted into a Bachelor of Communications in Writing and Cultural Studies with a grand total of nine contact hours a week.
I was living the dream.
Having grown up reading Cosmo, Cleo, Dolly and everything in between, I was fascinated by the world of magazines. I was also incredibly invested in creative writing. Journalism wasn’t for me, I thought. Writing and Cultural Studies will be much more fun and artistic, I thought. How naive I was. After a few work experience stints in various magazine houses I decided fashion and beauty magazines were not my calling.
I flirted with the prospect of working in PR, experimented with social media management and spent a few months copying and pasting beauty products into spreadsheets. I hadn’t found my niche but in hindsight, I had found something equally valuable. I knew what I didn’t want to do. My present day self sees this recognition as an achievement. At the time, I wasn’t so convinced.
During my first and second year of uni, I worked in a rather whimsical retail store and found my people, so to speak. Yogi’s, jewellery makers, art therapists and some of the most loving individuals I have ever encountered. They all taught me something about the person I didn’t know I was pursuing. Some were quite literally teachers and showed me that things didn’t always have to be as they seemed. There was more to life than uni and job prospects. In a hippy dippy sort of way, they taught me about “the school of life”.
Don’t get me wrong, I have loved my degree so much. In classes that I would have hated I found some of the greatest people I have ever met and we soldiered on together. In creative writing classes I have been astounded at the talent I was surrounded by. I had whole subjects dedicated to writing fictional stories. I remember thinking, “am I seriously being marked on something I actually enjoy writing?” Yet the fact remains that after 16 years of schooling I am about to enter the big bad world with a vague idea on how I’m going to achieve everything I want to.
I’m at Point A and know exactly what I want at Point B, but everything in between seems to be a blur. We are in general expected to have our lives together at a young age. Some of us do. More power to you, I say. However there are those who have no clue where they’re heading or what they want. It can be hugely daunting, particularly with the expectations of seemingly everyone to consider. It doesn’t have to be as scary as it all seems.
In Australia, we are in the incredibly fortunate position to live in a country where our daily problems don’t consist of fear that we’ll be shot for expressing our opinions or waking up to genocide or disease. We don’t have to go on and be the next big shot government leader, we don’t even have to venture away from our laptop screens to realise that we are lucky to have a choice in what we want to be in life.
It doesn’t mean that I have it all figured out, I’m not even close. I take comfort in knowing that the next time I go into a job interview feeling insecure about my degree or my lack of experience I’ll be able to reflect on my position in this world and know that there’s a good chance it’s only going to get better than this.