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The Arts Scene

What should I do with my life?

Kathryn Franke
MSM Class of 2013

(8/2012) It seems like I was just being asked that dreaded question. "Where are you going to college?" Now, just 4 short years later, a new question has become the standard inquiry that I have been trying so desperately to figure out myself: "What are your plans for after graduation?"

That is a very good question. I wish I knew the answer!

The decision of what to do after college is hard enough as it is, but then throw in the factor of multiple degrees, and you have one very confused student. I will graduate with degrees in both Fine Arts and Communication Studies, and I would ideally like to find a job that allows me to utilize both of those fields of study (being the Fine Arts Editor of the local newspaper is a nice start, huh?), but that again leaves so many options open.

As I get ready to tackle my senior year, I have been putting a lot of thought into my post-graduation plans. So much so that I even made a Microsoft Word document entitled "Possible Life Plans." I kid you not. That way, I can organize any ideas that may pop into my head and ensure that I donít forget any of them. I have separated the ideas into the 2 major categories that so many students struggle between: graduate school options and job options.

Letís start with the graduate school options. My friend Alex and I have been dreaming about staying at the Mount for graduate school to earn our MBAís in Marketing, while hopefully getting graduate assistant positions. We would of course live together, commute together, and be practically inseparable. This is still a very probable option for me, but then I have to consider so many other factors as well. I could go to graduate school for Communications, or even for Fine Arts. Or, I could take a whole new route that I had never thought of before my time at the Mount.

While taking one of my first art classes at the Mount, I met a girl who (at the time) had her mind set on going into art therapy. I was not familiar with that area of study, but after doing some research, I have found that it seems like something that I would absolutely love to do. It combines some of my favorite things: art and helping people. I have always loved volunteering and doing things to make otherís lives better. I want nothing more than to end each day with a smile on my face knowing that I have helped make a difference in someoneís life.

In fact, one of my favorite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which reads, "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived-- this is to have succeeded." I want this quote to define whatever job I end up having in life. A job should be more than just a job. It should be a way for each of us to contribute to society, each in our own unique way. Being an art therapist would obviously allow me to use art, which has become such an important part of my life, and it would allow me to spread that enthusiasm, passion, and skill to others so that they too may reap the many benefits of art.

There is just one problem with that plan: I have not taken any psychology prerequisites. I can of course take them before I would actually start the program, but that is a hurdle I can overcome if or when I get to it.

With todayís economy, it is actually quite intimidating to think about what to do after those seemingly long 4 years of college. Now, it seems like many students are planning on going into graduate programs to avoid the daunting job market that awaits us. Does that mean that it is actually better to go into the job market at this time? There are so many unanswered questions that I am sure I will find out as the school year goes on. However, as I keep researching potential job ideas, my list of options grows.

I have a variety of companies and organizations that I have bookmarked for various reasons, including location and also involvement in the arts or marketing. There are a plethora of jobs that could utilize either of my majors, such as museums, advertising agencies, media outlets such as newspapers and magazines, and school systems, just to name a few.

Needless to say, I am still unsure of what my future holds, but as the song goes, itís so bright, I gotta wear shades! I never used to see graduate school as a part of my plan, but as time goes on, plans can change. I will most likely end up applying for both jobs and graduate programs at the same time and see what opportunities present themselves to me. There are lots of options for me; itís just a matter of figuring out which one is best suited for what I see myself doing long-term. Everything will ultimately work out, but it is the unknown that is so intimidating for me.

I am a very plan-oriented person, so the fact that I do not know what I want to do scares me to be honest. I knew coming into college that I wanted to major in Fine Arts and Communications. There was no question about it. I could easily plan my 4 years at the Mount around that decision, but now that those years are about to come to an end, I do not have a set plan. In the long run, I think that is a good thing because it will open up so many undiscovered opportunities that I may not have considered in the past.

Not everything is in my control when it comes to my future. I can do my best in school, perfect my resume to the best of my abilities, practice for interviews, etc. I can decide the general direction that I wish to take in my career. But I really donít know what exactly lies ahead, and thatís ok. I donít have to. But as I cross that stage and receive that precious piece of paper in May, I will be reflecting on my past school years, embracing the present moment that I will have worked toward for so long, and looking ahead with enthusiasm and anticipation on the life that lies ahead of me, whatever it may be.

Read other articles on the local arts scene by Kathryn Franke