My Quarter-Life Crisis & Journey to USC
Life after undergrad can be anything but glamorous. We rush to finish school, ready to leave behind exams, quizzes, and my least favorite: research papers. While our social lives are probably the most exciting it’s ever been with Greek organizations, community building on-campus, and countless kickbacks, I know I for one was ready to step on into the real world and finally be the independent working woman I dreamed of being.
My dream turned out to be more of a nightmare. The kind where you wake up several times only to fall right back asleep to it. Yeah, that.
I graduated from UC Irvine in 2011 with a degree in film and media studies. The move back home was rough, and I decided to escape any immediate responsibilities (student loans, looking for a job, etc.) by moving abroad to Ethiopia, East Africa. My entire family is from Ethiopia, and I worked for an English newspaper in the capital of Addis Ababa. What was an original three-month stint turned into eight.
With my grand return to the good ol’ US of A, I expected for an outpouring of jobs to fall into my lap. I mean, I got my bachelor’s from a respectable UC. I have numerous student leadership and internship experience. And let’s not forget my role as an arts and entertainment writer in Africa.
So, this is the point when the nightmare began. I applied for months, and months, and months to jobs. Many didn’t even reply back, the few that did got my hopes up to no avail, and the couple job interviews I scored shook my confidence.
What was going on? I couldn’t figure out how my qualifications and educational background did not seem enough. I saw friends going through similar difficulties, but eventually they started finding jobs. I felt like the only one still sitting on my couch unemployed after graduation.
However, each battle is just a part of your journey. After about four months of looking for work, I found a gig as a communications associate for an African media group. Then, there was my stint as a tutor, teen specialist at a community center, and not to mention gaps of unemployment in between.
I realized I had to think of a plan, a solution to end this nightmare of not knowing my next move, of where this job could take me, or where I would end up years from now. I was tired of being afraid that I could lose my job at any moment, and start again from square one.
I began researching graduate school programs, something I know I am not alone in. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more and more young people are not only getting graduate degrees, they’re also benefiting from it. According to the center, in 2011 the average income for young adults with a master’s or higher was $59,200, almost 32 percent more than the average income for young adults with a bachelor’s degree.
With my background in journalism and love for all things Hollywood, I stumbled upon the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism at USC. The communication management program caught my attention because it allowed me to learn management skills to take into creative fields. So I began my application: acquired letters of recommendation, studied my butt off for the GRE, and wrote and re-wrote my personal statement. I crossed my T’s and dotted my I’s and I had to play the waiting game after months of hard work.
Fast forward six months later, and I have already completed my first semester at USC. I’m part of the last class of students who were able to start in the spring semester, and a short few weeks after receiving my acceptance letter, I start my program in January 2014.
The quarter-life crisis is not a myth–it’ll make you doubt your abilities, swallow your pride, and most importantly force you to find creative alternatives to find your dreams.
For example, I used the spare time in between job searching and grad school applications to start a blog that highlights the Ethiopian community in Los Angeles, set to officially launch in August. I had to look outside the box and find a plan A, B, and even C to figure out my career path.
USC is the reality I woke up to after months of nightmarish uncertainty and self-doubt. I look at my time at USC as the chance to seize my career by the throat and hold on for dear life. Needless to say, I was lost for a second there, but have rediscovered my balance as a Trojan.