Written by Katelyn Regenscheid, St. Olaf intern
As I stand on the edge of the cliff of life, I mentally prepare myself for the leap of faith that comes with college graduation. Entering my senior year of my undergraduate education at St. Olaf College brings with it the pressures of searching for jobs and defining my own, independent future. Despite the enriching nature of a liberal arts education, my degree also leaves me sans career direction.
With the world at my feet and student debt beneath my wings, I prepare to take my first, wobbling steps into the “real world.” However, it is with the first stage in this process that I find myself the most stumped: deciding what I want to be when I grow up. Which environment or work-life balance will I prefer when I transition out of the Noon-Midnight college schedule? Will I prefer to work 70 hours/week, making enough money to live comfortable and risk dissatisfaction with my personal life? Perhaps the freelancing world calls my name. Or maybe working in the public sector in a self-proclaimed “rewarding” role will fulfill me.
I take issue with the strict time schedule of the real world. These past years, I have found time to work when the motivation struck me, I was not forced to spend time in a single place if I was not being productive there, yet I still managed to successfully meet every deadline. Obviously, working for an organization is quite the opposite environment. Perhaps this is the difference between paying to be somewhere and getting paid to be there. Or perhaps it is the inherent ‘laziness’ of my generation. I prefer to think it is the former, but who is to say? I did not live as my parents did, so I cannot speak to it.
If money is such a strong motivating factor in work hierarchy, I ask myself why then don’t I work for myself? As my own boss, I would be able to allow myself tailored opportunities to find meaning and gain work-life flexibility. Established organizations, however, offer great benefits and opportunities. This again is a paradox of a college education: in order to pay for it, I must work somewhere that forces me to spend my time differently. Working independently is a potential goal, but for now I must find an organization where I find meaning and purpose within their constraints. Now the only question is: how do I make that happen?
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