“So, What’s Next?”

In my personal experience, the (often dreaded) question of “what are you doing after graduation?” began to be asked of me as soon as I ended my junior year. It felt like every person I met, ran into, reconnected with, etc. asked me this question. I’ll never forget the day, early on in my senior year, when my roommate and I were at an event together and one of our younger friends said to us, “I can’t believe you’re graduating this year, what are you doing next?” We both looked at each other and said, “we have no idea.”

It’s okay to have no idea.

I decided to apply to graduate schools and hope for the best – not knowing what would come next if I wasn’t admitted. Fortunately, I enrolled in a masters program at NC State (go Pack!) which began immediately after graduation, with a Graduate Assistant position with Parents & Families Services. There are so many opportunities and resources out there for NC State students to continue their education, obtain internships and co-ops, or even begin a full-time job upon graduation. However, sometimes the journey to finding these opportunities can be challenging and overwhelming.

The NC State Career Development Center is a wonderful place to start. With so many beneficial resources such as career assessments, career fairs, information sessions, ePack, career counseling, and so much more, the Career Development Center is an essential tool that NC State students have access to for career support. But they need your support too!

Allow them the moment, they deserve it!

We, as students, have worked so hard to be where we are in this moment, wherever that moment may be. After enough times of hearing the question “so what’s next?” I began responding with “walking across that stage and receiving my diploma,” because that truly was what was next for me. For many college seniors, they are focused on the current steps they are taking towards walking across the stage and obtaining their degree. I didn’t have the answers for what was coming after graduation, and not every student does and it is really okay. Allow your student to live in the moment and focus on where they are. Graduating should be a time for celebration and living in the present, not stressing about the future!

There is so much pressure on college students to know exactly what they will be doing when they graduate. But the reality is, many students have no idea what they are doing until it’s happening. The pressure to choose a major and attend college and graduate in four years without switching your major and then beginning a job immediately after graduation can be overwhelming and quite frankly, near impossible. It’s okay to switch your major, it’s normal to take an extra semester or year to graduate, and it’s all right if you have no idea what you want to do after graduation.

Transitions in life are times where we as humans need the most support.

Transitioning from high school to college and transitioning from college to the “real world” may be some of the most challenging times for many students. The stress of not knowing what comes next after graduation can be overwhelming and many students can become stressed about what the future holds. Every time I heard the question ” so what’s next?” and had to answer with “I don’t know yet,” made these overwhelming and stressful feelings even worse.

Find comfort in the fact that everything your student has done at NC State has prepared them for what comes next.

Trust your student and know that the fact that they are seniors and will be graduating soon enough means that they have been preparing for whatever comes next for them. Whether they plan to continue their education, take some time off, go straight into a job, or anything else that may come up, they’re ready for it! NC State has prepared your student with research opportunities, career fairs, resume writing workshops, career coaching, and so much more. Your student may not know exactly what comes next, but they’re ready for whatever that may be.

Pack Parents, be sure to check on your student in their life transitions and support them through these endeavors. Whether it’s from high school to college, school year to summer, college to the “real world” and everything in between, be there to ask “how can I support you moving forward?” instead of “so what’s next?

Always, Go Pack!


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