Skip to main content
Arts + Social Sciences › Global Humanities
SFU Student

Picture of Spock from Star Trek
I say that instead of suffering in silence, talk about your apprehensions and anxiety surrounding life after university, whether it is a job, grad school, starting a family, or anything in between.

If, like me, you’re finishing up the last few courses before saying good-bye to the concrete covered arena of knowledge that is SFU, then you can relate to the plethora of emotions that have bubbled to the surface since you began facing your last term (in my case, two) head on.

Yes, there are feelings of pride, accomplishment, and the odd thought of “I can’t believe I did it.” But what most people don’t tell you is that those feelings can be overshadowed by fear, dread, panic, and confusion.

Why is this?

Think back to your academic career so far: kindergarten, elementary, high school. Those graduations were filled with anticipation, excitement, promise, and a sense that you have stepped up another rung in the ladder of academic achievement.

But what happens when you get to the very top? When all of a sudden there are no more steps to climb?

Do you look around and take in the view? Or do you alarmingly imagine scenarios of grabbing the air frantically for a hand hold that is your “working career”?

For some, getting an undergraduate degree is not the end. After all, it’s “under” the “grad” part. The challenges come after you apply, get accepted, and plow through a few more years of graduate studies. For those pursuing further schooling, it can also feel like you’ve stepped off the ladder and somehow found yourself stumbling into the bridge of the Kobayashi Maru (for those non-Trek fans, check out the link).

I, on the other hand, seem to be stuck in the middle. After working for a few non-profit organizations, I abandoned my so-called “plan” to become a secondary school teacher, and decided that social work was more my cup-of-tea. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching, and I still do, but I realized that helping the vulnerable, at-risk, and marginalized in society resonated with me much more deeply than any school or classroom.

However, leaving SFU with a degree in Human Geography and Counselling puts me in an odd position. Because I do not have a Bachelor of Social Work degree, I will not be able to pursue a Master of Social Work without first accumulating at least 3,000 hours (preferably paid, according to most universities) of related experience.

In other words, I will have to flail my arms wildly to grab hold of a job, before I can even get close to the turbolifts of the Kobayashi Maru. That to me is the most terrifying thing ever.

All our academic lives, we live in a world of predictability. Seventh grade is followed by the eighth, first year is followed by second, and so on. All of a sudden, after 18 years of school, you’re expecting me to embrace uncertainty with open arms?

Hmm…. I don’t know about that.

Here’s what I am trying to say: In our ever-evolving, technology driven, volatile global economy, uncertainty is a given, especially when it comes to career development.

However, there seems to be a lack of recognition that for university students, uncertainty is an overwhelming and frightening thing to accept. I mean, when was the last time someone asked you, “Congratulations, you’re graduating! How are you doing with the uncertainty?”

Sure, Krumboltz talks about it, and we learn about happenstance here and there. But I somehow get the sense that we are supposed to just accept it and move on. That is easier said than done.

I say that instead of suffering in silence, talk about your apprehensions and anxiety surrounding life after university, whether it is a job, grad school, starting a family, or anything in between. Because if we continue the way we are, we risk becoming a generation of bottled-up, thick skinned university graduates who forcibly crack a smile to those who are beaming about their degree.

Give it a try. Next time you talk to a soon-to-be graduate, instead of just showering them with congratulations, take a moment to ask them what it feels like to be stepping away from the comforting embrace of classes, professors, and assignments. Then perhaps when it is your turn, you will find reassurance from the fact that you are not alone.

SFU Student
Sherry Lin is a Career Peer Educator with SFU Career Services, and a fifth year Human Geography and Counselling student. She is an aspiring social worker who loves to explore the BC wilderness, and enjoys sitting down for long chats with friends. 
visibility  109
Nov 5, 2013

You Might Like These... Prospective, Professional Development, Career Exploration

Co-op students jumping in the air
The Co-op Connection Helps Retention

In this blog post, Heather shares with us why co-op is an important experience for all students, whether it be to further career aspirations or to gain future employment opportunities. 

author, courtney, smiling
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

Having completed my first work term for Health Canada as a Communications Officer Intern, I was eager to try something new, and the government was not where I believed that was going to happen. That is until I was offered a position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

Working on campus
The 10 Minute Commute – Resources and Useful Information for Working on Campus

Have you ever thought about working in a place that you are familiar with?  Perhaps a Tim Horton’s close by? For many students the idea of working at SFU might be a great option, if you prefer a 10 minute jaunt to work after class or an opportunity to learn more about how a university operates.

You Might Like These... Career Exploration

Why Join the Canada Revenue Agency?

The Canada Revenue Agency offers motivated individuals a challenging, interesting, and diverse workplace that will help you develop skills and advance your career. If you are looking to gain valuable work experience in a federal organization, make the CRA your employer of choice.

Harpreet in front of IBM logo
Engineering with IBM: A World Without Borders

Computer Engineering student, Harpreet Basaron is currently on a 16-month co-op term with IBM. Read how her time in Toronto has allowed her to broaden her career horizons, as she left the province to set out on her own, overcoming new challenges and career experiences.

Build Direct Company
How Co-op at BuildDirect Influenced My Career

This blog is about my wonderful co-op experience at BuildDirect and how it influenced my career in Canada. I discuss the work culture at BuildDirect, the type of work I have done and the technologies used. If you are planning to do a co-op with BuildDirect, this is definitely going to help you.