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Summer 1999: Studentspeak

The dreaded question “What are you doing after graduation?” finally has an answer.

Summer 1999: Studentspeak

The dreaded question “What are you doing after graduation?” finally has an answer.

“So, what are you doing after graduation?”

The fear, the doubt, the uncertainty rise again like a terrible phoenix, and our answers about keeping options open once again fail to sound convincing.

I think that half the class of 1999 is working for Motorola or Andersen Consulting, and the other half hasn’t a clue. It is this half that fidgets nervously, smiles hastily and shrugs in shy doubt when hit with the question.

The truth is, nobody really cares what anybody else does after graduation. It’s like waiting-room psychology: No one is authentically concerned about the plight of the guy sitting next to him; everyone just wants to know he isn’t alone in his apprehension. We ask vague friends and that guy from nutrition class what they’re doing after May 15, but it’s halfway to reassure ourselves that some people are just as uncertain as we are.

Adults who ask about our futures really just want to know we’re not going to end up on the street. Love, saving the world, and “sales” are all filed in the same folder of “has plans.” It doesn’t matter what you say, just that you say something.

So those of us who can’t yet list something as concrete as Motorola have learned to supply an answer anyway:

“I’ve been accepted to graduate school to study industrial education with a minor in principal dynamics.”

“For the next couple of years I’ll be a goose keeper, and then I’ll get married and go into intensive shrubbery.”

“I’ll be training amoebas in a small research center, with a focus on pseudopod therapy through the creative arts.”

Ah, yes: they smile and nod. But the fastest-growing job market is in educating the public that futures and soundbites are not synonymous. That’s where I’ll be in 10 years. Unless, of course, I grow to love the amoebas. . .