March 1, 2024

Q: I think I waited too long to apply to grad school, should I take a semester or two off and work or should I just dive right into my field?

A: There’s a lot of directions you can go—if you had your heart set on grad school, look into schools and deadlines for the next available semester. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared for the next opportunity. That being said it doesn’t hurt to take a semester or two off either—you may learn more about yourself, discover a new interest, want to pursue something different in the future and find other grad schools that fit you better. If you jump into your field after graduation, there may be companies who will pay for you to continue your education. This could be the best of both worlds—you have a stable job of your interest and will continue onto grad school in the future; it will help you to grow as an individual without putting yourself in more debt. There are also other opportunities where if you do take a semester off, you could volunteer, travel, do research, etc. All of these will broaden your horizons and give you stories for grad school essays or elevator speeches later on with an interview for a job.

Q: Advice on finding a job/ place to live after college.

A: Think about it this way: When you were little and you used to say “I want to be an astronaut, rockstar, veterinarian…” It wasn’t a second thought when you answered what you wanted to do with your life. Now the time has come to actually find a job with your major. You might be hesitant, have fears or doubts— but ignore those. The little kid version of you would not think about those negative thoughts. When you are looking for jobs, they may be very different from one another and because of that you need to create a cover letter and resume that fits the criteria needed for that job as best as possible. If you are worried that you don’t have enough of the requirements for a specific job, it never hurts to apply. The worst thing that could happen is that you don’t get the job. If you’re trying to find a place to live after graduation, start with where you want to be or where you will be. If there is a place you have in mind or a place you will be at for your new job, use the Internet or an app with rental properties. There are platforms where you can save properties that spark your interest, location or price range. As you find more information on the property you will want to reach out to the renter and get as much information as possible and then make a trip to walk through the property. It may be a good idea to find a roommate if you’re renting a place—it will save you money and time on shared household duties. If you are planning on going back to your hometown to work, it isn’t a bad idea to continue to live with your family—I know it be may be difficult, but it can save you money in the long run.

Q: Should I be picky on location when trying to get a job after graduation or should I just go with whatever is offered to me?

A: This really depends on what you’re looking for as a person—everyone has a different idea of success. Since you asked this question, I can assume you have a location in mind and this location can be related to your success and happiness as a person. My idea of success and happiness could be to live in a studio apartment in Chicago, or to own a dog or to travel across the Atlantic in a sail boat. Therefore, as an American you have the right to make your own decisions and follow your idea of the American dream regardless of what society, your family, friends or advisors tell you; so, what will make you feel the happiest? It may be the job of your dreams, it may be a location you always wanted to live in, it may be the people you want to surround yourself with or something else. If you’re stuck between a location and a job though, pick the one that will make you feel at home but also out of your comfort zone. That will allow you to perform as the best version of yourself. If you don’t feel like you’re doing something worthwhile or living somewhere you feel at home, then you may feel like something is missing— find what is more important to you as an individual and go towards that.

*Ask Ali is an advice column where students can submit questions to the Torch—all questions will be kept anonymous. To submit questions e-mail pauleya@ with the subject line: Ask Ali a Question.*

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