Post-grad advice

by | Mar 5, 2024 | In The Mag!, People | 0 comments

Q&A with the former worker bees of The Griff

My final semester is something I’ve been looking forward to and dreading throughout my degree. After April, I will be through with the student lifestyle that consumes every corner of my life, and I will leave on my own to explore the world. Student-life is all I have ever known. I never took a gap year after high school. 

In fact, I’m so attached to my education security blanket that I considered pursuing a master’s before gaining experience in my field (which is still a fine option). I think it stems from a fear that there is no room for failure and that people will expect me to know everything, perform, execute, and know exactly what to do. As a student, you have that wiggle room to make mistakes. You are given a little more grace.  

I figured that I might not be the only graduating student anxiously staring into the abyss that is post-grad life, so I thought I’d reach out to some former Griff friends for sound advice on how to navigate life after university. 

Meet Kyle.

Kyle graduated from MacEwan in 2016 with a bachelor of communications. He was the former managing editor of the Griff. 

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Kyle. I’m Métis from Treaty 8 territory. I’m based in amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton), and I work at CBC. I like to play basketball, but my body is fully breaking down, and it is really heartbreaking to experience. But, I’m trying my best ‘till the wheels fall off, as they say. [laughs]

What is something you wish you knew about life after graduation while you were still in school?

I wish I spent a little more time soaking it all in and experiencing school for what it is, which is a really wonderful time to build relationships and do things and experience things that you want to. 

Once you get into the workforce, it’s a little bit more rigid with the amount of stuff you are able to do. School is a perfect opportunity to expand your horizons and learn a little bit about yourself. I spent a lot of time working and volunteering. Journalism is such a competitive industry that you have to kind of do whatever you can to try and get a leg up on people, which I was happy that I did, but I also wish that I had spent a little more time being a kid, I guess.

“Not everything is going to happen tomorrow, but it will happen for you as long as you keep going.”

Kyle Muzyka, reporter and editor at CBC and the former managing editor of the Griff

It makes a lot of sense to be eager to get out into the workforce, especially in the fourth year. You spent three years doing this school thing and are ready to move on, but I certainly miss [school] a lot. I miss the freedom, and I loved working for the paper [the Griff] because I had an opportunity to expand my horizons and talk about things I’m interested in, which I can still do at work to some extent, but it’s just a little bit different. 

Advice for those apprehensive about graduating? 

I entered the workforce, and other folks entered the workforce at a really precarious time. It can be brought with challenges. There’s an increased amount of competition in many fields now just because of the nature of how things are moving. 

We have this saying in our community: ‘ahkameyimok,’ which means ‘keep going,’ and it’s such an important philosophy for many of us because we are living in a time that is not easy.

We’re all trying our best, especially within the context of where we live and how we live. Hold yourself with grace and have a little bit more patience with yourself. Not everything is going to happen tomorrow, but it will happen for you as long as you keep going.

Meet Eva.

Eva graduated in 2023 with a Bachelors in Communications. She was the former online editor for the Griff. This year, she is a communications intern at the Government of Alberta. 

What is something you wish you knew about life after graduation when you were still in school? 

Honestly, for me, the grass is greener on the other side! I was lucky to find a job quickly after graduating, and working seven hours a day and then coming home and doing whatever I wanted has been great. I’ve been putting more time into sports and other hobbies that I didn’t have time or money to invest in while in school. It’s also nice to get a regular paycheque and save up for bigger purchases. So, I guess even though it’s scary graduating and starting “life,” I’m here to say that there are also perks! The future is bright!

I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but as someone who had a lot of anxiety about life after graduation, I was pleasantly surprised!

What advice would you give your fourth/fifth year self? 

I would remind myself to look at how far I’ve come. I was so discouraged in my last year of school because my grades weren’t perfect, others had more work experience than me, and I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. Maybe others feel the same way. I think if I had been more positive and prouder of myself for having almost completed a degree, my mental health and self-talk would have been better. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I wish I could just instill in all graduating students that preparation always sets you up for success. Research jobs you want, develop the skills listed in the job descriptions, and plan for what you will do if you don’t find a job right away. Plan how you will manage your finances and avoid lifestyle creep when you are getting those regular paycheques. Make some short- and long-term career goals so you can start applying for jobs before you graduate. All these things will set you up for more success and less stress once you graduate.

Meet Mya.

Mya graduated from MacEwan in 2023 with a Bachelors in Communications. She is now the marketing coordinator at Orca Book Publishers, an independently owned Canadian children’s book publisher.  

What is something you wish you knew about life after graduation that you wish you knew while you were still in school? 

There’s still tons of learning left to do after graduation, of course, but it is nice not to have to write a 10-page paper about everything! Instead, it’s up to you to explore your own interests and continue to grow. Not having a grade attached to every outcome and a strict syllabus to follow has been very freeing for me. I’ve always been a perfectionist, but I’ve found it a bit easier to experiment and fail without a grade — especially when it’s something I’ve initiated and am wholly passionate about, whether that’s cooking something, trying a new hobby, or learning something new at work.

“Not having a grade attached to every outcome and a strict syllabus to follow has been very freeing for me.”

Mya Colwell, marketing coordinator at Orca Publications and the former assistant editor at the Griff

What advice would you give to your fourth/fifth year self? 

I would tell my fourth-year self to continue to pursue what you’re passionate about. It sounds really cheesy, but if you’re thinking about how many odds are stacked against you to find a job in your field, it gets discouraging very quickly. So, have faith in yourself and in your skills. And a little luck never hurts, either. For something a bit more tangible, join clubs and apply for part-time jobs related to your field! Any experience is a useful experience, even if it’s not what you anticipated.

I hope all this advice combined reassures you that it truly is all going to work out. No, you may not have your five-year plan figured out. You might not even need one. Life after graduation is full of transition and uncertainty, which aren’t the most comfortable of human experiences. Just know that there is a community of recent graduates to connect with and confide in, including me. Be mindful that this is your first time living life! To echo Kyles’s words of wisdom, ‘be gentle and patient with yourself, and the rest will follow.’ 

Photos provided

Aajah Sauter

The Griff


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