For as long as I can remember, I have been in school. No, I am not talking about college, but of school in general. When I sit down and think about it, I started first grade when I was around 4 or 5, maybe (these things are foggy) and I have been enrolled in an educational institution of some form or another since then, 18 years, more or less. But all that is about to end. If all things go according to plan I should graduate in April with a Computer Science Bachelors degree to go with my Associates in Applied Sciences degree. Given all that I have learned and taught myself, and the experiences I have undertaken one would think that I would not have any worries about stepping out of academia to work in the professional world. Such people would be wrong.
When I actually think about it, it is quite scary, the real world. Its not like I have never held a job before, indeed I have been formally employed since I was 14; but these were mostly jobs to make spending money as a teenager, it was hardly to support myself. Then when I was 20 I made the decision to move into the dorms at Grand Valley. While this was definitely a greater degree of self responsibility I still had the financial backing of my parents should I fail. When I didn’t fail for two years, I decided to take the next step and formally live on my own, by renting an apartment for over a year. I have succeeded in this matter of self sustainability, but the next step is truly the hardest, for it may involve me moving away from the family that supports me. But this is what I want, and was one of my reasons for studying in Japan: to prove to myself that I was capable of supporting myself anywhere I went. I have proven this. But the scariest thing of all is finding a job that I love. The places I have worked up until now, the internships aside, were all jobs that, in the grand scheme of things, I really didn’t care about. They weren’t jobs that I put my heart and soul into and actually enjoyed going to work all the time. They were a source of income, monotonous sources of income.
But, when I return to America in 10 days time I will be looking forward to my final semester which has me taking just two classes. I know the importance of having a job at the end of the semester, to make graduation seem more real and to know that I will be somewhere when I do graduate. I know that my skills are diverse and my mind sharp. I know I have not entrusted all my chances to some flaky technology that may make me obsolete in a week. I know I have read and read to keep myself updated. I know I have constantly looked for ways to improve my skills. I know I am ready, I know I am ready, but am I really?
The real world seems so scary from within academia where if you don’t do a programming project you simply get a 0 and another chance the next time; you can always retake a class. In business, your likely to get fired. A job that supports my livelihood is scary when I think about it. I always worry, about many things that I know I cant control, but that I want to control. Really, I have the least right to complain then anyone, I have already been offered several jobs just by people I have helped in various ways and friends, but I have my pride that makes me want to do this on my own to make sure I get the best deal possible. But what if I wait too long, what if I am no good, what if I am nowhere near as smart as I am told I am or think I am? I always have such doubts, doubts that are only ever eased my experience and the constant process of maturation.
The job hunt begins in January, though I have already started reviewing whats out there. My chances look good, but I will be spending copious amounts of time with GVSU’s career service center to fine tune my resume so as to maximize my chances. Also, the launch of my new .NET website later this month will affirm to prospective employers that I am committed to Microsoft as well as many other programming platforms. Diversity is my greatest strength and I plan to take it as far as I can.