Illustration Credit: Joyce Qiu, Illustration Editor
Too many options, too little time
Alessia Baptista, Editor-in-Chief
If you’re “woke” as the kids say, or have hung out with me for long enough, you might know that I make YouTube videos on the internet. Majority of them are just for fun, while others document my life as a U of T student as I navigate this scary chapter of my life. Naturally, the U of T videos are the ones that put me on the map, so I guess you can say that makes me a true micro-niche influencer. Apart from my internet backstory, I just requested to graduate in the Spring of 2023, so buckle up, because I’m a nervous wreck and have realized that graduation is closer than it seems.
Welcome Back to My Channel
Among all the U of T-related videos I’ve made, I have two videos specifically talking about my life-crisis (which seems to be never ending). They’re titled: “My Big Fat University Dilemma” and “My Big Fat University Dilemma (The Sequel)” respectively. If you’re wondering — yes, it is a play on the movie title My Big Fat Greek Wedding which I’ve never seen, but I probably should soon. You can watch both of these videos on my channel, but for now, I’ll provide some context as to how these videos contribute to the third installment of this series, that being this article.
In the first video, I was in second year. At the time, my biggest dilemma was overcoming the fact that I didn’t end up studying what I wanted to at university. For my whole life, I wanted to go into the sciences — specifically Kinesiology (Kin) at U of T. I’ve always loved sports and I loved biology class in high school, particularly the DNA and anatomy lectures, so this major was my calling (or so I thought). Needless to say, I sucked at math, which was one of the prerequisites for the program, and this shattered my dreams of pursuing Kin. That’s when I made the switch to apply for English, and hated myself for not being able to meet the requirements to get into the program I’ve dreamed of since I was probably three years old and my dad taught me to say “tracheal cartilage,” but I digress. I was also still hung up on being a teacher, as I had planned since I was younger, but that quickly changed once I realized I wasn’t restricted to your basic teacher-doctor-lawyer jobs.
My first and second years at U of T were filled with regrets and doubts. It wasn’t until third year that I finally accepted that I was a Humanities girly at heart, and this was where I belonged. To be fair, I’ve enjoyed almost every English course I’ve taken. I have nothing but good experiences with my major; the dilemma lies in the fact that my degree is not as practical for my future career. This is where the sequel to my dilemma comes into play, otherwise known as my I’ll just go to grad school! That’ll fix everything! era. Essentially, I’ve done some digging and found that I could do a Masters in Journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU). I’ve been involved in student journalism since my first year at U of T, so I thought a natural progression for a career post-grad would be to pursue journalism. That brings us to today.
To Grad School or Not to Grad School
Now that we’re caught up to speed, let’s talk about my current dilemma: whether or not I should go to grad school. While the idea was music to my ears when I first discovered the program, I’ve done a lot (and I mean a lot) of overthinking — I mean, reconsidering. For starters, I am extremely burnt out. Like many university students, I’m dragging myself across the floor to finish my assignments and work up the ability to go to my classes. I’m not sure if it’s the senioritis kicking in, or what it is, but man I’m exhausted going to class and doing assignment after assignment. Every time I submit an essay, I’m certain I don’t have any more words left in me to write another one, even though that never ends up being the case.
Like I said, I thought journalism would be such a great idea for me. I like it, I’m good at it (or at least I think I am) and I’ve been doing it for a long time. The only thing is, I’m not sure if this is what I want to do as a career post-grad. It’s definitely an industry where you have to hustle and work around the clock to cover all sorts of upcoming topics. A good friend of mine was kind enough to put me in touch with someone who’s in the industry, and it’s not as glamorous as it seems. Especially because I’m a woman looking to get into the sports/media/journalism industry, I’m setting myself up for disaster in a world ruled by men. Normally, I’m one to take on a challenge, but I’m not sure that’s a bridge I want to even think about crossing. I guess we’ll see if I change my mind after graduation.
I am considering a few other paths beyond journalism, now that I understand there’s a world of career opportunities in media related fields waiting for me. I frequently revisit my experience as an intern for the Toronto Raptors doing Game Operations. Essentially, I was one of the people who helped hype up the crowd, threw the shirts, and got to see all the behind the scenes details of what goes into producing a game and entertaining fans. I absolutely loved this job, and had the time of my life doing it. Back in 2019, I’d missed the deadline to apply for TMU’s Sport Media Program, and kicked myself for not applying or trying to transfer schools. I think I would’ve had lots of fun in a program like that, and maybe I’d be on a better path to a career in sports. That’s why I’m considering programs like the one at George Brown College for Sport Marketing.
If it isn’t a career in sports that I decide on, it’ll be a career in Public Relations (PR). That’s where I discovered that I can take some classes at U of T in the School of Continuing Studies. I think this might be the answer, because it’s not as long of a program as the two-year TMU Masters situation, but still points me in the direction I want to go. I can also take a few other courses to complete another certificate, so it’s kind of like a two-in-one short term post-grad solution that gives me the extra pieces of paper I want and the education I need in half the time. It’s also a career that contains writing, media, and entertainment all in the perfect package. Maybe that’s the answer.
Alessia Can’t Decide
Long story short, this entire article feels like a tribute to the song “Johnny Can’t Decide” from the remarkable film: Tick.. Tick.. Boom!. I truly have no idea what kind of post-graduate program I want to pursue, or if I even want to pursue one at all. And I don’t think there’s any shame in that; I say this more to reassure myself, but people shouldn’t feel guilty about not continuing education post-undergrad. The only reason I’d be doing another degree or program of sorts would be to further my education and secure a position once I decide what it is I want to do. I also think I need to try landing internships in various jobs beyond my Raptors one to really rule out what it is I do or don’t want to do.
I think there are parts of my degree that are transferable to some of the career paths I’m considering post grad. Either way, I still feel like Jonathan Larson; there’s constantly a clock ticking in my brain telling me that time is going to run out. I have to make a decision now, and I’ve overwhelmed myself with the amount of choices and interests I have. Not to mention, I absolutely hate being asked what my plans are after graduation. It makes me tense up and I feel ashamed to say that I have no idea. Well, I have several ideas, but I just have to pick one. Explaining them all to my family members takes way too much work, and I really don’t want to give them any ideas or disappoint them later when I don’t stay true to what I’m thinking of doing now.
The best thing for me to do at the moment would probably be to apply to all these things I’m considering post-grad, so that future-me can decide. What I’m doing now is looking at the kinds of jobs I think I would enjoy, looking at the requirements and what the job entails, and making a long list so I can do a process of elimination. I’m also trying really hard not to pressure myself into making a decision right now; I know if I decide to accept any grad school applications or take extra courses that I can make that choice at a later date. I also know that if I decide to work straight after graduation, that’s okay too.
Above all, I’m excited to take a break after graduation. In all honesty, I think going straight into a Master’s right after my undergrad degree would set me up for disaster. I’m already burnt out after four years of university, so taking a well-deserved break is something I need to do so I don’t continue this dreadful cycle of burnout for the rest of my life. If you know me at all, you’d know that’s extremely hard for me to admit.
If you need some advice about applying to grad school, I say make like Nike and “just do it.” This way, you’ll never regret not applying and you can accept or decline the offer when it comes. Also, a note for your future self: if you ever do get rejected from your chosen post-grad program, know that it isn’t the end of the world for you. You can always reapply, choose a different program, or maybe a new opportunity will fall in your lap when you least expect it. Whatever happens, I promise everything will work itself out. Going to grad school doesn’t define you, or your success. Read that sentence again.
Being in your 20s is hard because it’s a weird in-between phase of life where you have your whole life ahead of you but it doesn’t seem that way. There are so many choices and it feels like everyone and everything is going to come crashing down if we make one wrong move. All these feelings aside, you’re not alone, and I can guarantee a ton of people in this age bracket are likely having similar thoughts.
In the meantime, I’ll go make another vlog (subscribe, please!), focus on my assignments, and prepare for exams. It’s important to think about the future, but it’s equally important to live in the moment and keep my priorities in check. I hope you do the same (or do your best to try).