by Ali Golfetto
Graduating from university might just be one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve gone through in recent years. Far from being a cause of celebration, for most of us it is the first time that you realize you have no skills, no prospects, no money, and no idea how to get any of them.
At least that was the case for me. When I finished university with a biology degree (that I chose because it would ‘keep my options open’ when, in reality, it just ‘kept my GPA extremely low’) and no hope of getting into med school even if I wanted to, it was terrifying because I had nothing planned. I tried to look at it as exhilarating that the world was my oyster and I could do whatever I liked. I realized that the only thing I’d really done or studied in university that I was really passionate about was volunteering for a campus club called Dignitas that works to provide access to life-saving treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS in resource-limited settings.
I figured international development would be a good place to start-only I had taken no ID courses and knew nothing about how to get going. I was trying to come up with a plan when, just by chance, I overheard someone in the cafeteria talking about a program at Humber College that was one year (good, because I hated school and couldn’t handle much more), teaches you tangible skills (good, because I had none), and is focused on international development (good, because that was the only thing I knew I had an interest in).
I just finished the program in June, and frantically sent out hundreds of resumes all summer. Just when I had begun to resign myself to waitressing and living with my parents forever, I got an email. I was being offered a job I hadn’t applied for and didn’t even know was vacant. Dignitas had remembered me from when I volunteered in university and thought I’d be great to replace someone there who was going back to school!
I’ve been working for Dignitas for just over a month, supervising the university chapters I was once a member of, and everything seems to be going well. My credit card bills are almost paid off, I am getting something I can actually put on my resume, and I’m meeting great people. Yes, I’m still living with my parents, all my friends are still living it up in university, and my pay cheques are miniscule-but it’s a start.
I guess I would tell other recent grads that there is hope. You have to pay your dues and start from the bottom – in fact, volunteering is a great way to get your foot in the door if you can afford to do it. Just remember: being true to what you care about always pays off!