Home > Personal > The Uncertain Future of the Undergraduate

The Uncertain Future of the Undergraduate

This article is written in reference to myself as I am now faced with a situation where all the goals and aspirations that seemed a certainty not too long ago are now looking less and less attractive.

It is close on a year ago that I was back in Australia finishing my degree. At the time all I could do was countdown to the day when I would return to Sri Lanka and begin working in the rehabilitation and reconstruction process. Back then my desires were strongly driven by a sense of idealism. It was as though the time was calling for me to put my studies on hold and return home to help rebuild the war torn country.

Ten months on and the idealism remains, yet the avenue to which took to achieve what I had set out to do is slowly changing. The months that I have spent back in Sri Lanka since returning from University have not been the ideal start in pursuit of my humanitarian work.  My working life began with a job at the British High Commission I was given the soul wrenching task of processing applications everyday from 8am to 4pm. It was not what I had envisioned myself doing when the decision was first made to return. Needless to say the job did not last long and after three months I decided that it was time to move on in hope of securing a job closer to the heart. I spent a month job hunting during which time I felt as though I had hit an all time low, rejections followed refusals which were in turn followed by disinterest on the part of employers. I was facing the grim prospect that it would be a fair amount time of time before I found my next job. The opportunity then arose for me to come aboard a well known local NGO as a volunteer. I took it albeit rather reluctantly in hope that it would help me get closer to that dream job I have been waiting for.

Four months have passed and today I was notified unfortunately that the NGO still lacked the funds to pay me and so I would have to continue working on a volunteer basis. I left the office downtrodden and questioning whether this was the field for me.

It is often an intriguing way a person’s life is directed and shaped, it can happen by mere coincidence or in some cases it maybe planned and organised. I think that for me it is becoming clearer my life has taken on a journey through the unknown. Having unsuccessfully achieved my ambition of working at grass root levels helping people rebuild their lives I am now taking a second look at my ‘plan’. I find myself looking at a different avenue that will help me reach a similar goal. The idea of actively helping the people of my war torn country rebuild does not look as fruitful as my new growing ambition.

Journalism and journalist are often looked upon as an occupation inhabited by leeches that thrives on misfortune and hardship. Whilst on the opposite side people see the journalist as mere gossip mongers. I too have been guilty at times of harbouring prejudice thoughts towards them. Through my studies both in and out of University however I have come to see the valuable and often powerful role they play in today’s modern world. It has become clearer that my desire to work with those less fortunate than me is fuelled by a yearning to learn their stories and spread them amongst my friends and family. Journalists do a similar such service by drawing light on the suffering of the world in hope that we would sit up and take notice.

Someone once told me that a person is only as useful as his strengths. A rather cynical view, but still one that contains a degree of truth. A person who is drawn to the sciences and logic will not be of use in a field that requires imagination and ‘outside the box’ thinking. Similarly I have realised that at this point my strengths are those which are not sought after by the very people I pursue in hope of a job. Instead it is becoming apparent that my strength lies on paper and with the pen (or in the keyboard). The relating of the stories that I will hopefully encounter whilst working in Sri Lanka will be of greater use than any specialised work I seek.

From all that has gone on this past year it does not surprise me that many people call life ‘the great unknown’. For a graduate it may at times come across as disheartening and demoralising when the face the world for the first time after leaving University. It is also an exciting time as you begin to explore not just the world but yourself learning new things everyday.

Categories: Personal
  1. Tha
    September 30, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    The pen is often indeed mightier and will be beneficial only if used responsibly. In all things be fair, be factual and be forthright. Consider all things and write only when all things are considered.

  2. B.I*
    September 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Hey don’t give up! 🙂

    Perhaps continue higher education so you can perhaps look for jobs that can get you in at a higher position and keep accumulating relevant work experience while you’re at it?

    Check this site out – http://unjobs.org/duty_stations/sri-lanka (they keep adding new stuff all the time).

    Journalism is good, but the pay isnt great and like most things the novelty wears off after a while…dont give up on what you set out to do…no matter what the set backs are..just a matter of finding the right fit..keep looking!

  3. lemonade/ලේමනේරිස්
    September 30, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    They say that persistence is the twin sister of excellence. Persist and you will find excellence. You’ve just had a some bad timing in graduating… this aint the easiest time to find a job.

    Don’t think about it too much… your time will come! All the best!

  4. chinsen
    October 1, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Sorry to hear this buddy, but glad you’re keeping your chin up and moving forward! Personally I keep thinking that the dreams we have now are likely to evolve as we age as well.

    The dreams we had a few years ago are probably quite different to the ones we have now. With experience comes maturity and it all shapes our dream life. I think as we get older, the rate of change of our aspirations slows as well. The disappointments we experience today only shape us for the future.

    I’m sure within a few years you will have found your true dream, be doing the work you want and be acing it too. When and where it will be, who knows!

    Journalism sadly has got a major negative image in today’s society. All that obsession with celebrities, subjective reporting and the like are annoying indeed. However the basic role of journalism to keep things in order by pointing out faults and keeping the public informed and alert still stands. How long this will remain so is sadly unknown.

    PS – in the worst case scenario, and we’re both struggling to find work in 10 years, I’d say we can still fall back on our mad music video skills.

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