The moment you tell people you are a second year MPH student, most will ask you, “so what are you going to do after you graduate?”
Truth is – I am more confused about the answer to that question than I was last year. I don’t have a definite or exact answer, but what I do know is that I strive to stay true to the values and principles that got me into the field of public health in the first place. I don’t want to take a job just for the sake of it or for a paycheck.
Although the reality is that being unemployed is not the most desirable option, it is important for me to be a part of something bigger. I want to make sure that whatever path I take, it is one that is guided by my passions and not external expectations. Being in school, sometimes we can lose touch with the very things that got us here in the first place. This semester was a time of serious reflection for me.
Fall semester of your second year is when things start getting real. You are extremely energized from your summer internship, you are thrilled to not have any more required courses on your schedule and there is definitely less anxiety around the “unknown.” You know what to expect, except that now the realization is that there is less time. Before you know, it is the last full week of classes and people you met last school year are finishing up their programs and graduating, while you prepare for the holiday break. And then…your last semester is here.
This is where my mind goes wild. I start thinking about all the things I said I was going to do, the places I was going to go, and the people I was going to see. Then I realize I only have a few months left. And just as fast as this semester passed, the next one will.
One major lesson I have learned this semester is to do the things that make me happy and the things that help me feel connected to others. For me that means staying involved in student organizations and attending many campus events, going on road trips with friends, skyping with my younger sister as much as possible (even during class sometimes), bikram yoga, providing mentorship and guidance to undergraduate students, contributing to research projects, and volunteering within the local community.
As graduate students we get extremely busy, this is true. But, ironically, I have realized that the most efficient way to lower my stress has been to involve myself more. I may not know what I am going to do right after graduation, but I do know what I am going to try to do with my time next semester!
We have time, but then again, we really don’t. So do what you love.