Deciding to do something different after college is scary but worth it

When friends started apply and accepting jobs, it made James nervous. But then he realised everyone has their own path to take.

Written by James Bohan


Ireland can be a very stressful place when leaving college and beginning your ‘career’. Last year I finished my degree in Economics, Politics and Law. As I was finishing I really began to feel lost. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do and I still don’t. Many people in my course were constantly talking, even from the beginning of final year about the big firms they were applying to and how they already had interviews. I remember thinking “wait, these applications are already open in October?”

As the year rumbled on, I starting feeling stressed about the application deadlines that came and went and I hadn’t seen any positions I was really interested in. I applied to one or two places half-heartedly and only because everyone else was doing it. Friends had already begun to accept offers even before the end of semester one.

Finishing final year with no idea what is coming next is weird and scary since it has never happened to many of us. I didn’t want (and couldn’t afford) to do a masters and I didn’t know where I wanted to work. Then, I applied for a position as a Teaching Assistant in my University and luckily, I was successful. This isn’t a job that I ever thought I would be doing but I am very happy to try something different. Though the feeling of stress about my ‘career’ has not totally subsided.

On reflection, it is easy to see why I’ve been so stressed about it. Dublin is a working city. We have so many large important firms here in which many of our friends are going to work in. It is hard not to feel like we are losing ground or that our ‘careers’ and us, will not be as successful, especially with friends working in ‘bigger’ firms. There is also the pressure of having to earn a high salary, with Dublin being such an expensive city. Maybe it is an Irish thing, the pressure some of us may feel about getting into a ‘good’ pensionable job for life, when we are only in our early 20s.

This is not what I want, not right now anyway. Moving from job to job in Ireland is definitely seen as a bad thing. Families tend to react negatively to people who leave a ‘good job’ even if you hate it. Maybe this is why so many young Irish people look to move abroad, to places where there is not so much pressure on careers and you can focus on other aspects of life.

For me and I believe for many others my age, a career is not everything it used to be. Yes of course, I would love to have a job I love and be comfortable, but I don’t want my life to be taken over by work. There is more to living than work. Going through and also finishing final year not knowing what you want to do is okay. It can be painstaking to look through all the graduate openings especially when final year is only beginning, but it is a necessary evil.

The next chapter after college won’t decide the rest of your life. It is just the next step. Be patient. Something will pop up that you think you would like to try and don’t compare yourself to others. Just because they are doing interviews and may be accepting offers before the end of final year doesn’t mean you are falling behind. Not everyone takes the same path.

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