What’s next?

For twenty years, I have been in school. I’m sure others spend more or less time than I have, but we all probably have the same question running through our minds after graduation: What now? What’s next?

A few weeks ago I graduated from university. I spent six years pursuing a higher education and earning my Bachelor’s in Graphic Design and Linguistics. Throughout those six years, I knew my end goal and I knew what I needed to do to achieve that goal. Here I am, beginning a new chapter in my life. It’s daunting yet exhilarating not knowing what lies in store. However, I feel like a lost animal aimlessly wandering because I don’t know what my new goal is.

Find a job? Cold. Find a job that pays the bills? Warm. Find a job that values you? Definitely hot… but also, I believe, a bit difficult to come by.

In the last semester of school, we had many alumni from the graphic design program come to our class to give us advice on scoring interviews, making the transition from school to work, and building our portfolios. One guest speaker left some valuable nuggets that have been running through my head as of late:

  • “Know what you want”
  • “Know your worth”
  • “Your most valuable asset is you”

These words of wisdom ring loudly as I enter this new chapter. Keeping them in mind really shifts my focus from simply finding a job to finding a job that values me. I admit, I’m neither outspoken nor assertive, and I struggle in voicing my needs and wants. I frequently find myself justifying why my job treats me the way they do. Don’t get me wrong, my jobs, past and current, have treated me alright. However, every time I take a step back and reflect, I realize that I frequently overlook the obstacles I’ve overcame and the skills I’ve gained. As a result, I fail to realize that I frequently downplay my worth. At the end of the day, I think it doesn’t matter how much you get paid because if your job values you, it’ll reflect in how they treat you and you will be justly rewarded.

My advice: don’t be like me. Know that your experiences and opinions are just as valid as anyone else in your work environment. Sure, you still have a lot of learn, but you still bring insight that maybe your coworkers haven’t thought of. Your personal journey is unique and valuable and important. “Your most valuable asset is you.”

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