Hang In There, New Grads!

Algoma university graduates at convocation

So you want to get rid of your student debt, earn a great salary and land your dream job…

Been there, done that.

I know first-hand the difficulties of graduating with student loans, to struggle to find your passion, and to long for that “dream job” that will allow you to achieve not just your professional but personal goals.

Many, many years ago (OK – it was 10, but it feels like much more), I graduated with a fair amount of student debt.

But fresh out of school, and armed with a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University, I was confident and excited to enter the world of work with the intention of establishing my career, unburdening myself of debt and setting the foundation for the rest of my life (not too much to ask for, right?).

Well, it didn’t take me too long to find an entry level job at a well-known TV station in Toronto where I steadily worked my way up over the course of three years. At this point I was still living at home with my parents, making a decent salary and continuing to pay off my debts. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

Well, not long after – perhaps I was having a quarter life crisis – I came to the difficult realization that journalism was not my course in life and when my contract came to an end, so did my career in journalism. I’ll be honest. I felt pretty lost. Since I was fairly young I’d been so focused on my career path in journalism that I hadn’t given much thought to another profession. What was I going to do now?

Still saddled with debt and no job prospects I decided to take on a series of internships and volunteer work in the field of PR and Communications (Considering my main passion in life has always been to write and to tell stories – this was a natural choice). The good news was: I loved it. And once I’d built up enough work experience, it wasn’t long before I was able to land great, reputable jobs in PR and Communications that not only led to my being able to pay back all of my student debt, but also allowed me to thrive in my career and to lay the groundwork for a home and a family. I’ve come a long way.

Now, I know I’m painting a pretty picture for you about the future and of student debt. But here’s the thing. I know that most grads dream of a quick return on investment, but in my experience, the reality is that sometimes, it takes time to get to the place you want to be. It took me time, patience and hard work before I was able to have the things I so desperately wanted once I had graduated from university.

A former mentor of mine once told me that the value of a postsecondary education must be considered a long-term investment. So for those of you who are carrying student debt and are struggling to find your way in your careers, remember that in the long term your investment in your education will pay off….so hang in there!

Many of us don’t get to a place where we feel like we have it all together until we hit our thirties. Really. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself and focus on working towards what you want to achieve. I did, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

Check out the recent graduate survey and view our infographic to find out about employment and earnings outcomes of Ontario university graduates!