What are you doing after graduation?

Monday, January 13, 2020 - 5:45pm

One question has plagued seniors at this university for decades: “What are you doing after graduation?” As I begin the last semester of my college career in the Film, Television and Media program, I can’t stop hearing this inane question. Everywhere you go, everyone you speak to, every barista, every aunt and uncle, every student from your first year writing class, every Tinder swipe, every single person on this dying planet wants to know what you — yes, you — are doing after graduation. No matter how many times they ask, they will ask again. They will all ask until the question mark at the end wraps around your neck like a condescending scarf, or rather, noose.

They wonder how your liberal arts degree will help you get a job. They ask why your parents paid tuition for you to watch movies. They don’t understand why you did not choose to study something more established or employable, like computer science or economics. They can’t wrap their heads around comedy as a profession, but they'll ask: Have you seen “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”? Did you know that Joe Something-stein interned at Saturday Night Live 20 years ago? He works in insurance now, he can put you in touch. Their college roommate's son’s college roommate’s sister’s ex-boyfriend’s uncle works in entertainment, or was is marketing?

Everyone wants to help you but they have no idea how. They want to give you a name, a number, a weak connection of any kind to prove something, perhaps to you but also to themselves. They want to be the ones who got you the job, so you won’t forget them when their kid needs a job. I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine, or I’ll pass your shitty excuse for a resume to some assistant at Warner Bros. who my sister knows from BBYO so you don’t forget where you came from.

They inquire about your employable skills. You are more than proficient in Microsoft Office, but so is everyone. You spent years learning a language that no one speaks anymore. You used Photoshop once: naturally, you are an expert now. You have strong verbal and written communication skills, whatever the fuck that means. You can multitask, like that time you wrote an essay on Chaucer while simultaneously binge-ing “Love Island.” You are organized, but your room doesn’t highlight that (you are just super busy right now, if you were less busy, you would be way more organized). You are a team-player, as in you played on a little league team as an adult and you were still a benchwarmer. You are a problem-solver, you solve sudokus every day, even the medium level ones. You take initiative, you requested to follow him on Instagram before he requested to follow you. You have a positive attitude, you only cried twice this morning. You are a quick learner, you learned to use a tampon in the five minutes before Talia Shapiro’s pool party.

They cross-examine you, asking about entry-level assistant positions, you can surely get one of those, right? Well, assistants need assistance only if you’ve had assistance in previously being an assistant. So, no.

So, what are you doing after graduation?