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Zachariah: It’s okay to struggle with job choice after graduation

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

On graduation day, many of us will sit in the audience after going through years of training and learning to prepare for our new jobs. Our certificates only show that we are qualified to do one thing: go into the field of our major. However, many students feel the pull of other goals and aspirations. Our minds may tell us to go in the direction of our major while our hearts tell us to follow our dreams. This is a tricky crossroads for many students. However, it’s okay to do whatever you like, regardless of what that piece of paper says you studied.


According to a study by CareerBuilder, 31 percent of college graduates never go into the field that they got their degree in. Forty-seven percent of college-educated workers also said their first job after college had nothing to do with their degree field. Ten percent of college students from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga admit that they don’t want to work in the field that they are studying. If you find yourself within this 10 percent, fear not. This hesitation is not as uncommon as people think.

After graduation, some students choose to further their education in graduate school, some take a year off and travel the world and others choose a different route entirely. With the exceptions of doctor, engineer, lawyer and a few others, many jobs don’t specifically require a unique degree. Many employers just want to see that you have a background in something and that you went to college because college is not only about getting a degree. Sure, that’s the overall end goal, but the college experience teaches a plethora of life lessons.

College teaches transferrable skills like critical thinking, interpersonal skills, teamwork, idea generation and much more. College is also a buffer period. It allows us to keep the future in the back of our minds while still fully embracing the present. It allows us to still be kids while we learn how to be adults. It allows us to dream big dreams while being patient with the process. Like they say when it comes to resumes, “any experience is good experience.”

The expectation that we have to have it all figured out when we graduate is madness. We experienced the same kind of pressure when we were graduating high school, entering the next phase of college. People would ask, what are you studying? What do you want to do with that degree? What are your plans now that you’re out of high school? Every person who asks these questions means well, but the pressure that is put on us when these questions are asked is overwhelming.

It’s great to have a plan, but life happens whether we plan for it or not and usually it doesn’t think too fondly of our plans anyway. Whether you are graduating with full confidence in your plan and in your dreams, you are not alone if graduation day comes and you are filled with more questions than answers.

As my sister once said, “we hope we find the answers, but it’s the questions we are living.”

Tianna Zachariah can be reached at

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