Perhaps many of us are thrilled to see the end of assignments, surprise quizzes, curfews, and long hours at classes listening to professors' reminders on how life is more grueling after college. We graduate, land a job, celebrate our freedom, and prove to the world we’re capable of earning our own keep.
But the excitement proved to be fleeting. Turns out, our professors have been right all along—life after college is not as glamorous as we imagined it to be.
Well, at least for me.
Don’t get me wrong, my first job as an entertainment journalist in a local publication was exciting, not to mention prestigious—I could be interviewing acclaimed celebrities one day then covering movie premieres and concerts the next. I even had the opportunity to learn under the wings of the industry’s finest writers, but my passion for the job only went so far.
Yes, it was as fulfilling as a job could be, but I eventually felt no drive to live and breathe it. Roughly two years into my work, I got bored writing about these celebs’ love life, fitness secrets, or reactions about any topic under the sun. The job became redundant, and so were the articles I’ve published. My outputs got mediocre—all done for the sake of hitting the editor’s per-day article quota.
Simply put, it was a point in my career where I felt like a stray cat wandering down a dark alley, unsure where the path leads me. I was doing my job—writing article after article per day—without knowing my purpose; there wasn’t a single day that I didn’t doubt my writing ability, sure that I wasn’t made to be an showbiz journo, but uncertain what I really wanted to become of myself.
I was completely and utterly lost but carried on and (fortunately) realized that finding the right direction in life sometimes means chasing a new route, even if it means losing a job many people would be more than happy to have.
So I leapt into the unknown walked out of the office at 22. I did so without having any concrete plans as to what I'd do next.
I dove into my new exciting endeavor as a graduate student majoring in communications in my dream school (Ateneo) with the support of my father. Seems easy enough, right? Not necessarily. There’s more to it than that.
The thing about postgraduate studies is it’s arduous, exhausting, and heck, it can leave you broke. But I pursued it anyway, despite protests from family and friends. Who leaves a nice office for more days at school?
Graduate education was a completely different world. There were often very little lessons by professors and more teacher-student discussions; there was too much research work, the library became my regular hangout.
This was harder than I thought, but little did I know that the challenging classes in school were going to be my most anticipated days of the week. Yes, I was surprised to find myself enjoying hours discussing topics related to my field of choice.
The sessions helped me recall and appreciate the lessons I have taken for granted during college. Acquiring fresh knowledge allowed me to find my direction in life and gave me a boost to return back to my roots—writing.
Turns out, writing would still find its way back to me despite my previous attempts to give up journalism. In no time, I found myself accepting writing jobs again, for a fitness/health-related website. I worked full-time and remained as a part-time student. While I was (and am) far from being a perfect journalist, my postgraduate studies helped me to do better this time around, as it polished my skills in going about with the craft.
Now, what more did I get from quitting my first job to study again? Connections. Another great benefit of entering grad school is how it opened doors for me to broaden my network. Building relationships and meeting like-minded professionals helped me down the line when I started looking for my next profession. For instance, I have this classmate, then a professor in a different university, who referred me to be a part-time college instructor there.
This goes to show how postgraduate studies helped me explore other career paths, making me realize my passion for teaching. Albeit a brief stint, his offer allowed me to realize that I could be a communication instructor as well (as long as it will not get in the way of my media/writing practice).
Being a graduate student also honed my communication skills because classroom discussions were more engaging as compared with when I was younger, in that they didn’t feel like recitations. These so-called “people skills” allowed me to effectively interact with various people in and out of the school, which proved to be essential up to this very day, especially in a field where I regularly get to talk to and interview different personalities.
Ultimately, further education expanded my resume. There’s no arguing that postgraduate study sent out a positive impression to recruiters and did enhance my prospects. Not only did it help me to (somehow) stand out from the crowd, but it also showed employers my commitment and dedication in skills improvement.
Looking back at my experiences, from being unemployed and lost to finally finding a new direction in life, I can say that taking a postgraduate course was one of the smartest—and most rewarding— decisions I've ever made.
Not only did it propel my career to greater heights—I am now working as a full-time writer in the Senate, while also doing freelance writing jobs on the side—it also gave me a sense of fulfillment. I'm satisfied knowing that I'm already far from being likened to a stray cat that's forever clueless about its purpose.