After you’re finally handed your diploma, do you know which career path you plan on taking? What exactly you’re planning to do with your philosophy degree? Relax—you’re not alone.

A recent article published by Troy Media reported that 46% of students have a backup plan in case they can’t get into their chosen field. Upon graduating, many of us scramble to find work so we have something to offer the OSAP loan sharks when they come to call.

The article explains that students need to attend school for the skills they’ll need at a well-paying job one day and not just to learn the square root of pi. It goes on to say that it pays to do your research: “A degree today has to be understood to be an investment. Students need to do their homework and ask some searching questions well before they register. In what fields am I likely to find work? Who will hire me? Where are my prospective employers located and how much do they pay? Maybe students should even go and talk to some potential employers and see what they look for before enrolling.”

Surprisingly, of the few students I spoke to, not many of them had a distinct backup plan.

 “I don’t personally have a plan B because I was fortunate enough to be accepted in a program that I have a passion for and want to pursue career in,” said Marionne Dae Mariano, a nursing student in her last year. “Nursing is such a diverse career and there are so many avenues open to me so I feel that I have the privilege of dipping my toes into each area until I find what fits me.”

Of those more on the cautious side, third-year student Shain Lambert has a plan B, but it isn’t a second career path. Lambert wants to become a social worker but says that if it doesn’t happen, he’ll travel the world. “Volunteering, taking photos, and becoming more proficient in my piano skills,” he says. “Perhaps finding a job or activity [involving] that as well.”

First-year Kajal Vaghela says she plans to go into creative media production, particularly post-production. “Either that or take over the world,” she jokes.  Her backup plan is to follow her original dream and make YouTube videos.

Interestingly, some students believe even having a backup plan betrays a lack of confidence we need to break into our preferred careers. Mariano feels that having a backup plan shows a realistic outlook and an awareness of society, but according to Lambert, it gets in the way of “achieving something wholeheartedly”.

The UTM campus does have a Career Centre that works with students for two years after graduation and offers education in networking, resume-writing, interviewing, mentor-shadowing, and other guidance, which may not alleviate the worry that comes from a poor job market but can at least equip a student to miss fewer opportunities.

Felicity Morgan, the centre’s director, says the correct actions to take depend on the individual student. Gaining the knowledge, skills, and experience to begin a career may not be a viable option for some students right after graduating, between a lack of opportunities and needing to pay the bills.  Morgan hopes the Career Centre will be a more accessible resource for those skills.

But the direction the student wants to go in is left up to them, says Morgan, including where they want to put their time and energy. “Some students want to have other ideas and some students don’t want to lose their focus,” she adds.

But the key is to be working on your long-term career in one form or another, she adds. “If I think of the students that I know that have been really successful in their careers, they didn’t always know exactly what they wanted to do or they didn’t always get their first choice,” she says. “But what they did was they spent a lot of time looking at themselves and what they wanted, figuring out how they were going to get it and going after those opportunities.”

Morgan also stresses the necessity of building experience and contacts through part-time jobs and extracurricular activities. Now that the university has adopted a co-curricular record, the impact of such experience will hopefully be stronger. The CCR was scheduled to come into effect on September 10 but was delayed for about a week.

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