I nod to a passing stranger, and the stranger nods back, and two human beings go off, feeling a little less anonymous. ~ Robert Brault
When I started Graduates In Transition I had two goals in mind.
The first was to publish the stories of students and graduates experiencing a transition connected to their careers. There are all different kinds of transitions that lead people along interesting pathways, and sometimes it is only upon reflection that people realize how a life transition was an important stepping stone to a positive career change. I hoped that by sharing their stories, students and grads would take a moment to reflect on how they have all overcame hardships and found successes while courageously pursuing their career goals.
My second goal was to build a community. When students and grads feel frustrated, depressed, anxious, and worried about their job situation, they don't always share their feelings with others. The notion that "everyone is going through it," "this is a right of passage," and "you will eventually get to where you want to be" perpetuates the idea that grads just need to suck it up and stay positive, work harder and faster to fight against the competition, and not let their emotions get the better of them. Otherwise, they will lose sight of the light at the end of the job search tunnel and get lost along the way.
Graduates in transition is meant to offer an alternative response among a supportive community. The students and graduates who share their stories, or comment on and like the stories being shared, are those who do understand what it's like to be in this kind of transition, and how to show support to others going through it. They may have experienced it themselves, or know of a friend or family member who is.
This week, two separate events reminded me of how valuable this kind of community is, and how important it is that we keep growing.
The first was a kind gesture of a guest contributor to my website, who reached out to his own community in asking them to share in my efforts to build the Graduates In Transition facebook page. The response was more than I could have asked for, and I feel it is because those want to be a part of it understand the complexities of transition and the value in sharing experiences. My hope is that my posts and those of guest bloggers finds a place in the heart and minds of each community member.
The second occurred at a wedding I attended this weekend. I was chatting with a friend who had recently quit her job. Her voice carried hints of hesitation, uncertainty, relief, and optimism. You don't have to be a trained career counsellor to pick up on these kinds of things, just a good listener! When I asked her what she was doing with her time, her face lit up as she told me about her "learning goals," a list of goals she had created over years of discovering new things but never having time to pursue them. I responded with enthusiasm, noting that often pursuing a goal can lead to all sorts of interesting pathways and new opportunities. At the end of our conversation she thanked me for the supportive feedback. I thanked her for sharing her story.
It is amazing how a brief conversation between two friends at a wedding made us both feel more rejuvenated and optimistic about our career transition. For myself, it was my friend's openness about her decision to change directions, to try something new, and to share with me her plans, anxieties, and hopes that made me feel reassured of my own journey to get to where I want to be. That is what a community of students and graduates in career transition is all about.
By sharing our stories and talking about what we are going through, we can be more present in the "here and now". This website isn't about the big finish line, it's about the insight of students and grads who have fears and dreams right now, as they evolve in life and work. When we share the ups and downs of our journeys we show one other that this kind of journey is OK. We aren't screwed up, we haven't lost sight, and we don't mind feeling lost as we find our way. The journey isn't always easy. As long as we share what we are experiencing as we transition, we will connect with others going through something similar, and we will feel better.
So please share. Whether it's your own story, or encouraging someone to share theirs, or sharing the stories of others who inspire you or who you connect with, we can all benefit from a growing community of graduates in transition.