Students listening to advice from the panel of writers on Feb. 5 at the English department's Life After Graduation event at Arcadia University
Feb. 5 at the English department's Life After Graduation event.

Is It a Wonderful Life?

QUESTION: “So what do you want to do after you graduate?”

ANSWER: [Insert suppressed groan of terror here]

For anyone else who’s been asked this question recently, I feel you. It’s easy to get lost looking into the void that is your life after graduation. There are so many options to pursue, so many unanswered questions lingering in your future. So much fear of the unknown. But thankfully, I recently received a blessing from the Creative Writing department here at Arcadia University.

This semester, the department assembled a panel of four “grown up” writers and former English majors to come and speak to us undergrad younglings about the future. The event was created to explore the career paths these panelists followed and what they are currently doing in their professional lives. As soon as I heard about the talk, I knew I had to go. This was exactly the kind of personal experience I had been craving to hear about whenever the murky cloud of the future hovered over me.

I eagerly headed off to the lunchtime panel in the fancy-schmancy Gray Towers Castle. But when I got there, I bypassed the buffet and headed straight for the tables to take my seat. If my stomach was growling, I didn’t notice. My ears were hungry for information. And I was here to satisfy that craving.

With Joshua Isard, the director of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Arcadia, moderating, the panel launched into a lively discussion about their worst jobs, their best jobs, and how they have used the skills their study of English and creative writing has taught them over the years.

I sat perched on the edge of my seat, following along as the panelists discussed (and even debated!) the pros and cons of following your passion or conforming to a corporate job. Poet and MFA professor at Arcadia University, Jim Warner, championed the pursuit of the creative endeavor to which Rachel Loeper replied she was currently very satisfied in her professional, “real world” job as Education Director for Mighty Writers, a youth writing program. Another panelist, WHYY journalist Kevin McCorry, said it was possible to balance both creative and professional worlds AND have a family to boot!

By the end of the panel, I walked out of the room with a little bit more confidence in my step. Although my future is still unclear, hearing from people who’ve stood in my shoes allowed me to take a deep breath and accept the free-fall of life after graduation. They all managed to figure it out along the way. Surely I would, too!

I still don’t know exactly where my path will take me, but even just getting a glimpse at my options has given my gloomy cloud a silver lining. The future holds infinite possibilities!