Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Guest Post: Another lost graduate who took a different route post-college

Guest Poster: Erin from This Isn't Woody Allen's Paris
Erin is a dear friend of mine who I met my freshman year of college. We graduated the same year and have been going through similar experiences. After not being able to find a job that she felt would truly make her happy, she made the brave decision of moving to Paris to be an au pair, as well as gain some valuable life experience. She, like many other post-grads nowadays, chose a different path after graduating (and one she most certainly does not regret.) She started a blog to document her experience in Paris, so check it out! Hopefully this fellow graduate inspires some of you to go out and chase your dreams, no matter what they may be.

I, like Val, recently graduated from Rutgers in May (we were actually housemates for two years.)  After graduation was tough. Suddenly, you are plunged into adult life and expected to have your shit together. I tried, I really did, but post grad life was not easy. I had applied to a few jobs with minimal response, and the thought of working as an administrative assistant for the rest of my life seemed like a likely outcome.  

When I finally did get a face-to-face interview for an event planning position at the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, I was so excited. I thought I was the absolute perfect candidate for the job because of my previous experience as an event coordinator in a club at Rutgers.  I thought I was going to have my chance and be one of the few people who gets a job right out of college. I could have been so successful and talk about grown-up things like tax brackets and finding a house. But no, I’m not that lucky, and that would have been way too easy.  Instead of dominating my interview and being offered the position on the spot, I got the stomach flu. I started violently throwing up at two in the morning and didn’t stop until the next night.  Needless to say, I was forced to cancel the interview. I figured vomiting on my interviewer wouldn’t help me get the job. Long story short, I didn’t get it. Shocking, right? Nothing sounds like a more legitimate excuse than “I’m sorry I can’t make it… I think I have some sort of stomach bug.”

Despite being completely embarrassed and disappointed, I now see that fluke illness as one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I’m not implying that I would have gotten the job if I had been able to make the interview, but if I had, I would probably be working there now.   Instead, I am working and living as an au pair in Paris, and I could not be happier. Sure, I could have been an au pair without a college degree, and yes, some people may see my choice as a waste of my education, but nothing could be further from the truth. Since I studied French at Rutgers, this is the perfect opportunity to speak the language on a daily basis and fully immerse myself in the culture. It’s not like I picked a random country on a map and said “hey why not go there.” I knew I wanted to do something a bit different, and I do not regret my decision one bit.

I have received a lot of feedback about my decision to move to Paris (most of which I didn’t ask for), and my choice has really shown me the social pressures we all face after graduation.  Suddenly, after four years of “figuring yourself out,” you are expected to know exactly who you are and exactly what you want. I do envy people who are able to figure that out during college or even high school because their lives are much easier in a certain respect. I, however, still have no idea what I want to do or what kind of person I want to be.  Although I am jealous that other people have everything so figured out, I am also grateful that I don’t.  If I already knew what I wanted, maybe I would have missed out on so many experiences that I now cherish.  Who knows, I could still be in Paris, but most likely I would be sitting in an office typing up a memo that would be read by no one. I never would have been able to travel and accomplish so much. Through my choice to “throw away my education” and “not have a real job,” I have learned so much more about myself than I ever did in college. That being said, I’m still not sure what I want to do, but I do know that Paris is where I belong. I would have never figured that out if I hadn’t puked my brains up before an interview.

I have to be honest, I feel really conceited talking about myself so much. I also want you to know that I don’t think I’m super awesome and free-spirited and that everyone should just pick up and leave for another country. I kind of think I’m a lovely screw up who’s figuring things out as I go and faking it till I make it. I hope this article helps any other confused, unconventional individuals, like myself, feel like they are not wasting anything and that everyone will find themselves in their own time.  


  1. This is great! I think that many people, especially at my school (I'm at UPenn) believe that there is some sort of "right way" to do things, and that you have to "get the internship," then "get the job" and if you do anything else, you're out of luck. I enjoyed reading about how you did something different and are really happy! It inspires me. :)


  2. This is so cool, I've always admired people who are brave enough to do things like this post college - if I could do it over again I would've joined the peace corps! Also, I hate it when people say doing stuff like this after college is a waste of an education, the life experience you gain in college is worth just as much (if not more) than the degree itself! Thanks for sharing this!
    Miche from Buttons and Birdcages

  3. This is awesome! I really enjoyed reading this, and I totally know what you mean by the societal pressures on college grads. I have only a vague notion of what I want to do with my life, and it is all but unattainable when you get down to brass tacks. If I don't make it big somewhere, I feel that I'd be perfectly content travelling around, working various jobs and seeing the world. Though the thought of that makes my relatives gasp in fear and shake their heads. So, reading this was really inspirational, and I'd love to read more. xx, Elizabeth