A line of graduands in the Quad in their robes

Thoughts From a New Graduate

Ryerson Took Me To Interesting Places

It has already been four years since I packed up my belongings and moved to Toronto. I still remember my first day of class: walking into a room of fresh faces, all of us eager to learn about the industry and start our journalism careers. I remember the doubt, the learning curve and the hard work. Four years later, I can look back on the memories of learning new skills, of meeting and building relationships with some amazing people.

I can conclude that Ryerson turned out to be an amazing fit for me. As a person part of a generation that is going to school for longer than ever before, I preferred practical learning to textbook learning, and Ryerson offered me a balanced combination of both.

My classes have taken me to some interesting places. I began my program at the height of Mayor Ford’s controversial behaviour (watching Ford at City Hall was entertaining to say the least). I’ve been to murder trials, wrote about more topics than I can remember, worked on an investigative project for an entire year, shot and edited broadcasts and got involved with student groups. I’ve had my ups and downs but never regretted my choice of school or program. I even somehow convinced several of my friends at other universities to switch out of their programs to join the Ramily.

My Career Path Continues To Evolve

As much as I loved my program, I have to acknowledge that my interests have changed since I started at Ryerson. I guess that’s why trying to figure out your path while you’re still young is so difficult sometimes. You might know exactly what you want to do in your career from the moment you begin post-secondary and never change your mind about it. But for others, the end of a university degree is just the next stepping stone in figuring out what you really want to pursue.

Two years ago if you asked me what I wanted to do I could give you a specific answer down to the job tittle and the company I wanted to work for. Now, I can’t give you a specific answer. My answer is actually very vague. For a while this really bothered me. I was concerned I sounded unfocused and somehow unambitious to other people. After all, successful people seem to know exactly what they want. But in the last couple of years, I’ve gained new perspective. I don’t want to wake up years down the line and wish I had pursued something instead of sticking to “the plan,” especially if it was a plan I dreamt up when I was entering university as an 18 year old.

I spent four years learning and practicing a craft, but I know I’m still young and have a lot of learning left to do (which may or may not take place in another classroom setting). I would still like to continue developing the skills I used in my program, but I’m still figuring out how all of my interests will fit into my life and career path. One of the most liberating feelings for me was giving myself permission to do this and learning how to stop planning so vigorously, though this was so opposite to my mind set for so long. The truth is, there are some things you can’t plan. You can’t always control which path to take because you don’t know what opportunities will arise in the future. And jobs today will be different from jobs that will exist five years from now.

Still, I think it’s important to know your strengths and have an idea of where you’re going; just be okay with the fact that this could change, and don’t shut out other interests just because they may fall into another field. This past year, I’ve let myself try things, whether or not they related to my studies. I took a background acting job, started teaching myself how to code and started a mini online business. To some it might have sounded like I was having a bit of a life crisis, but after leaving my comfort zone and taking on these new projects, I started to feel a deep sense of self-improvement and now I have truthfully never felt more excited about the future.

Just Being Realistic

Tim Urban said it best with this simple formula: happiness = reality – expectations. Generation Y is unhappy because we have high expectations and reality (in this job market) doesn’t always deliver right away. Our generation is also really impatient. We feel like we need to have it all figured out by the time we’re 22. We need to land the dream job, feel self-fulfillment, and find the love of our lives coming out of university. That’s a lot of unrealistic pressure on our shoulders. In reality, the first few jobs coming out of university might not be glamorous or necessarily be the dream job I want, but it could be the stepping stone that will lead me to where I should be.

I’ll miss Ryerson because it’s been an inspiring environment. But I’m also really excited to work and I feel ready for the next chapter.

If there’s one take-away I can give you from what I’ve learned, it’s that finding your purpose is an adventure that sometimes takes time. I know I am a person of many layers. We all are. Don’t ignore passions or interests that might not relate to your degree. Plan but do not let the planning stress you out; be open minded, and embrace the fact that your career path most likely won’t be linear. It could instead be a messy, unpredictable, exciting adventure.