So you’ve graduated from college.

This seems to be the week of college graduations nation-wide. So many young men and women have received the applause and the diploma and now they are entering the world on the other side of school. Hip, hip, hooray for them! But I know that it can be a little (or a lot) bit unnerving, especially for young women who are not entirely sure what will come next. Should they stay in the old college town and look for a job or go home and move back in with Mom and Dad? Is Mr. Right going to make the move or is he someone else’s Mr. Right after all? These questions bring with them lots of uncertainty and more questions.

I wish all young women at this point could have the benefit of the kind of advice I received from my future father-in-law. He sidled into the little Christian bookstore on the campus where I was volunteering, and he asked me what I was going to do when I graduated. Hmmmm. Good question. I was dusting around for a job that would involve travel. So he told me, quite emphatically, that I had three choices. (Nice.) First, he said, I could teach. No, I told him, I did not want to teach. In fact, I had steadfastly avoided taking any ed courses. Okay, he said, my second choice was  marriage. Thanks, but no one on the horizon. Third, then, he told me I could go on InterVarsity staff. So, to make a longer story short, that is what I did. As I look back on this little chat, I see now what a comfort it was to have someone older and wiser give me some direction. It was very kind of him, and what was for him just a little chat with a college student, was a life-changing conversation for me.

Now here are some suggestions for you young women who have finished your college education, and who do not necessarily want to pursue a full-fledged career, but you do want to find a fruitful calling, though you are not sure yet what that is. Since I can’t give you three choices like my father-in-law gave me, I can give you a couple of principles to help you sort out your choices. (And you might consider having a chat with someone like my father-in-law!)

What are your gifts? And what are your opportunities? For example, do you love teaching Latin? Okay, so what opportunities are available for you to teach Latin? Once you narrow that down, then you can make some choices. Don’t take a job where you will have no Christian fellowship. Find a church first, and then look for a job in the area. Many modern Christians do this backwards: they find a job and then look for a church. And sometimes they can’t find one, but they stay for the job. Longterm this will be unhealthy and unwise. Plug into a healthy church first thing, and if you cannot find a job in that area, then find another healthy church and look in that community for a job. Sooner or later things should line up.

If you have the opportunity to live with your parents, and you want to live with your parents, this can be ideal. Both our daughters lived at home until they were married, and it was a wonderful arrangement. Daughter #1 was married during college, so she moved out from our home into her own home. Daughter #2 lived at home for a year after she graduated from college. She used her gifts and we paid the bills. That’s what we wanted her to do, and she flourished that year. If her husband had not shown up that next year, I imagine she would have eventually moved out on her own, but it never came to that. Both daughters have continued to be fruitful in many ways since they have been married, but it didn’t begin at their wedding. They were fruitful in college and out. Since college they have done many things. Daughter #1 has started a children’s clothing line (of course you know all about Amoretti) and Daughter #2 opened a shop here in town (kitchen, home decor, flowers) until her twins made it clear she needed to move all her creativity home.

During the post-college, pre-marriage years, daughters should appreciate and enjoy the protection and support of their parents if they are blessed to have the kind of parents who take this responsibility seriously.  And I believe parents who want to fulfill this responsibility can do so whether their daughter is living at home or not.

So anyway. You’ve graduated. Don’t panic. Relax. Enjoy the change of pace. Look for the kind of job that will be an opportunity for you to be fruitful, rather than a job that will simply fill your days. God is good. He has good plans for you. Don’t worry about the next ten years. Remember what Jesus said about that. Don’t borrow trouble.

The biggest hurdle may be coming up with a zippy answer to all the questions people ask you about your future plans. Some women come up with an impressive answer that is totally unrelated to what they are actually interested in doing. But it sounds good. The other option is to do what my daughter eventually decided to do. When people asked her what she wanted to do after college, she would tell them she wanted to be a shepherd. I know, I know. It sounds sarcastic, but she meant it with good humor. And now, with four little kids ages four and under, her wish has come true!

Finally, my husband has said that when the first settlers arrived on our shores, there was lots of work to do, but no jobs. Think about this. Maybe you are the kind of person who can start working on your own and create a niche for yourself. You may be able to do what you love and have people pay you to do it.

Obviously, all this calls for prayer and patience. Meanwhile, congratulations! Way to go! You have an education, which is something that will equip you for many things yet unknown. Keep learning and keep moving forward. God has begun this good work in you and He has promised to finish it.

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8 thoughts on “So you’ve graduated from college.

  1. Thank you for your advice. I have a daughter who has spent two years away at college and now is going to continue college while living at home.

  2. Mrs. Wilson, thank you! 🙂 As usual this was extremely helpful. 🙂 Those were practice smiles for all of the interviews to come. 🙂

  3. When I was a teenager in the early to mid eighties, I was reading a lot of books by a certain science fiction author who did her writing after her little one went to sleep at night. She wasn’t as successful as Rowling, but I am sure that she was making money.

  4. You’ve given much food for thought! (I’m surprised your future father-in-law didn’t mention nursing; when I was little I swear girls had three choices: teaching, nursing being a mommy. And the first two never, never appealed to me. One of my daughters is struggling right now with this, though she still has a year of college to go. A friend’s daughter just graduated and is actively seeking a job — though she certainly is plugged into church, volunteering, etc. I’m remembering the “What Color is My Parachute” book of old, and have found what I consider the successor in some ways: Job Coach for Young Professionals. Every graduate and student will benefit, by learning all the skills of a successful job search — and more importantly — WHO they are, what they’re good at, as you were talking about earlier. (By the way, I love your deaughter’s remark about being a shepherd, and how it’s now come true.)

  5. Lizzie, don’t forget secretary. My best friend from a few years ago had taken secretarial voc-ed classes when she was in High School. That wound up being the way that she supported her children when she was widowed.

  6. How COULD I have forgotten! People slam secretaries so much — way too few people know that they are worth their absolute weight in gold! (I think most of the people who HAVE great secretaries know that!) My husband’s department had one who was not so great. When she decided to leave, I kept saying, just you wait! You’ll get a good one now and she wll make your life so much easier! And she has.

  7. Thank you for those thoughts. It really encouraged me. While I am thankful for the fact that I have the opportunity to live at home during this unmarried season in my life, I am also feeling that it is time to venture out on my own and find what God has for my life.

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