4 years after college...

<p>It's been 4 years after college graduation and I'm feeling a bit lost and insecure. I went to a well-known university, graduated a year early, but never really knew what to do with my life afterwards. I wasn't even sure I liked the course I majored in, but my parents made me stick to it. I thought I'd take the extra year to take a break and find out my interests.</p>

<p>Long story short, I moved back home and decided to pursue my passion for music. After a couple of years, I landed a break and am in a sort of limbo where there's a chance a certain project may go through or not.</p>

<p>But...if that doesn't pan out, I feel like I've wasted 4 years. If I were to apply for jobs again in the field of my major, then there is fairly long gap, and I don't have too much work/internship experience. I'm starting to feel old (25) and behind, since it seems like everyone applying is younger than me and friends from college have jobs :(</p>

<p>I guess I'm just looking for advice...</p>

<p>One thing that may help is to realize that there is no such thing as a perfect path or a master life plan which, once found, guarantees happiness and success. Once you drop the idea that there is some perfect path out there, it's much easier to take life day by day and do what you have to do to survive. The perfect path or career is a very damaging myth which makes getting launched much harder than it needs to be.</p>

<p>This may be CC heresy but I really believe it: it doesn't really matter what you do, as long as you are out there making yourself useful (legally of course) and moving forward in some way rather than worrying about wasted time. "Life is what happens while you're making other plans."</p>

<p>I also had a momentary panic when I turned 25 and realized that I no longer remotely qualified as a "kid" and that I would be held henceforth to adult standards and expectations. The plus side: I realized that my birthdays didn't really matter anymore because I had entered the undifferentiated broad range of adulthood. You'll get over it.</p>

<p>@age of 25 you are still young and there is plenty of future ahead of you. You may need a quick update of your skill level and find a job that suite you the best. It may not be the field of your undergraduate degree, but you will find your way quickly.</p>

<p>For example, my DW was in the business field, she had an MBA after working several years. She quit the job and became house wife during the child bearing period. After my DD is old enough, she took several months of intensive computer training and became a programmer and have been working ever since.</p>

<p>Many people find that their career's ultimate destination has little relation to their college major or initial post-graduate job; you need to get yourself into the workforce and always keep looking for more/new opportunties. Don't stagnate at a single job, or wait for opportunities to present themselves to you - hunt and peck for them. Colleges don't necessarily prepare their students for strategic career planning, which is unfortunate.</p>

<p>Life follows a linear path for most people until college graduation.</p>

<p>After that, people choose different directions and have different experiences. Those who follow a seemingly linear career path (say, law school followed by several years in a large law firm followed by opening their own small legal practice) do not necessarily have happier or more successful lives than those who experiment, change directions, or pursue things that may or may not work out.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Colleges don't necessarily prepare their students for strategic career planning, which is unfortunate.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>This is true, but planning can backfire, too. In 1979, my husband, who had just completed a PhD, and I, who had completed a master's degree a year earlier and spent a year in a short-term job, both found what looked like the ideal positions in our fields -- and they were located only 45 minutes apart, allowing for reasonable commuting. But both positions turned out to be utter disasters, and within a year, each of us was looking for jobs in other fields -- literally, in any field that would take someone with our respective credentials. (The one thing we both knew is that we were not going back into the kinds of work that had not turned out well for us.) We each, quite arbitrarily, took a job in a field for which we were dubiously prepared, at best. And both of us have spent the rest of our lives doing the types of work that we stumbled into that year.</p>

<p>Thanks everyone for all the insight and encouragement.</p>

<p>It was just a little frustrating to see people with business or engineering degrees follow a linear path since my degree was in an art-related field that was more uncertain. I was also reflecting on the idea that I could be having a good salary right now if I had just went to work right after college, but if the sequence of events that followed after college hadn't occurred, I guess I probably wouldn't have reached the point that I am right now where my wildest dream is actually attainable.</p>

<p>I found this quote by Thomas Edison encouraging, "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."</p>

<p>The Unitarians say that you spend the first forty years of your life figuring out what you are not and then the next forty years figuring out what you are. </p>

<p>A generation or two ago a man (those days only men had careers) would have one career all his life. Now it's not unusual for people to have three or four very different career paths. Steve Martin is an excellent performing banjo player in addition to being a comedian. </p>

<p>And have a moment of sympathy for those who went into the military right after high school. Many of them hit college campuses at age 24 or 25 and there they are, a freshman trying to get their head around why anyone cares about a football game when just a few weeks earlier they were in charge of a convoy deep in scary terrain. Believe me, they feel older than you do right now.</p>

<p>can't imagine doing the same thing for 30, 40 years. that'd drive me insane.</p>

<p>But you won't be the same sort of worker for the next 30 years. You may find that you are a leader and move into management; you might come up with a brilliant idea related to your early work and become an entrpreneur. You may learn about an area in which you'd like to specialize and go for advanced training, etc. You may decide to switch fields, but bring expertise from your first job that makes you a much more valued contributor. There's no way of predicting this; it has to do with your motivation, abilities, and situation in life.
That's one reason that college (and other) debt is so crushing - it eliminates many options because those big bills have to be paid every month.
There are also times when you'll want to have a job that isn't too taxing - a new baby, a parent or other family member with health problems or mental illness -that makes you a different kind of worker, and you'll be thrilled to have a job that isn't draining you.</p>

<p>Mikey, it's very courageous of you to follow your passion instead of some sensible, practical career path. Some people never have the guts to try. Add that to the fact that many recent college grads are working the drive thrus, and you're really not so far behind the "competition" after all. </p>

<p>If the music project doesn't work out, that's OK. You can keep trying or you can change direction. The first step in reaching your goals is to set your goals. </p>

<p>As for me, I don't subscribe to the "love your work" "be passionate about your work" philosophy. I find happiness in LIKING my work and loving my hobbies. I believe that if I had to make a living at what I love, it would be too much pressure and suck all the fun out of. So I follow my passion in spare time. Work is pleasant, but it's just work. </p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>Thanks again for all the responses, I feel better now!</p>