No less than 100 young adults, who are soon going to taste the real world, crammed the 30-people capacity lecture theater. Like bees flock around the hive, these eager students, both who are graduating and have graduated, asked tons of questions to the prospective employers.

The game’s on.

This has become a usual sight, really. Having attended a networking event for a second time, I have definitely seen the crowd of graduates who are begging for jobs.

I’m one of them.

Of course, I am not one of the ‘kiasu’ group – the ones who ask tons of questions, and keeps on asking even after the session is finished. But I am not one of those laid-back person who hasn’t even thought of what they are going to do after graduation.

You see, I am three weeks away to completing my Bachelor’s degree.

There are a lot of things to be thought of. Where to work. What to be. When to apply for jobs. How about doing a postgrad? Visa requirements? And so forth.

A couple of weeks ago, I was told that I am not qualified to apply for a visa after graduation. That means if I want to stay in Melbourne after I graduate, I will be needing to do a postgrad.

So either that, or go home (to Jakarta).

At this stage, I am now really considering the opportunity to go back home. Never once during my three years in university that I have considered this option before. I thought that I will be graduating like all my friends, applying for visa, staying in Melbourne for a couple of years, getting some work experience here, and then perhaps, I will go home, or keep on building my career.

I have never thought of doing yet another degree after graduation.

I bet a lot of soon-to-graduate students are in the same boat as me.

Parents are worried that we will be jobless. We are worried even more of the prospective of being jobless. We look at our friends who have secured jobs before they even graduate. We secretly envy those who have their future plans laid in front of them. We congratulate those who get jobs, while getting a twist in the stomach, thinking, ‘When is my turn?’

We begin to compare. Clearly, there is a lot of pressure. Parents demand to know what we want to do after getting a degree. Friends begin to ask about our plans – mainly because they are trying to find people who don’t have all figured out yet. We start receiving rejection letters, one after the other.

We wonder if our degree is worth it – that after three years of studying, what skills do we actually walk out with? After spending so much time, effort, energy, and money, we wonder if whether this is enough for us to even get a decent job. Sometimes the answer, sadly, is no.

We know the stats – unemployment rate rises. We see our friends struggling to find jobs months after they acquired their degrees.

But what is it, really, that we fear the most?

We fear that we’ll become failures.

We fear that all these years turn out to be a wrong journey.

We fear we haven’t really known what to do with our lives.

But remember, this is just one side of the debate.

Drinking my coffee, having my alone-time, and journaling my thoughts, I realised that regardless of getting a job or not, I am not a failure.

During my university years I have gained extensive knowledge, particularly about media industries and journalism. I learn how to write. I get my writings published in various publications, more than 65 of them. I know how to research and apply statistical approaches. I did a professional barista course. I know a little bit more about coffee culture. I mingle with some of the people whose minds are just fascinating. I learn about my strengths.

Graduating is a daunting experience, but at the same time, it’s an open door to a lot of opportunities. As I am no longer bounded by books, lectures, assignments, and tests, even without an employment I will be able to gain more experiences in any area that I want. I can try freelancing. I can take courses and gain new skills. I can deepen my knowledge on things that I am passionate about.

No one has everything figured out, and you know what? It’s okay.

It’s really okay to do trial and error.

It’s okay to fall, as long as we keep on standing on our feet again.

Everyone hates uncertainties, but as a friend said, you will start somewhere one day, and the place where you start will be different to where someone else starts theirs. Stop comparing. I believe that as one is committed to personal growth, one day, we all will be fine.

We will find our callings. We will get to the place where we belong.

I am graduating. And there is a possibility that I will become jobless. But being unemployed doesn’t mean that I will become a failure.

I don’t fancy another degree straightaway, except there is a divine intervention of actually acquiring a Master’s.

But whatever I’ll be doing after graduation, I know they all will be worthwhile. I know they will become dots that one day, connect.


Photo by TJ Aminoto