The Graduate Diaries

TGD #3: "I Know What I Don't Want to Do"

Doing something you love makes all the difference between a ‘making-ends-meet’ and a ‘I-can’t-believe-I-get-paid-to-do-this’ feeling, in this tale of a new grad who found a job she never knew existed - one which blended her two polar opposite passions.

“Transition periods usually bring forth a lot of reflection. At the end of high school, you ask yourself: what do I want to do for the rest of my life? Maybe dentistry? Okay, life science it is. Once undergrad is over, the same question persists, but with added pressure. No really, what am I going to do for the rest of my life? All I know is that I don’t want to get stuck answering the phone at a call centre. Well, why don’t I procrastinate for a few years and just do a Master’s degree? Sounds about right. 

“No really, what am I going to do for the rest of my life?”

I’ve never been the type to chase after a dream career. I know many people who do, and I always admired their drive and passion. But to me, I always took things step by step, not really looking to achieve a specific goal. Maybe it’s because I didn’t actually know whether my ‘dream career’ actually existed. I just knew what I liked and didn’t like to do. I knew I could never be a doctor. I knew I didn’t want to be in school for more than 6 years. I knew I liked to use my art and design skills. So that’s exactly what I did. 

In my undergrad, I did a biomedical communications minor. I got to draw in class, learn how to use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, design websites, and write compelling content. I learned how to use my art and design skills to communicate in health. This was something I really enjoyed, but are there jobs like this out there? I wanted to learn more so I did a Master’s in Translational Research. This program gave me a better understanding of the different types of opportunities that exist in the healthcare field. Tackling problems in health care using design thinking processes helped me see things from a different perspective. I just had to find where I fit in. 

“Well, why don’t I procrastinate for a few years and just do a Master’s degree? Sounds about right.”

In the meantime, I was still using design skills in my projects and work positions. I used Powerpoint, Illustrator, Photoshop and other programs to design presentations, posters, brochures… anything really. I even helped friends design logos for their businesses and blogs (i.e. Struggling Graduate is one of them). 

My job search itself wasn’t complicated. For months, I went online, searched up general terms and filtered through the ones that had something to do with health. It was rare to find anything that integrated design. I also got into contact with people working in consulting agencies, similar to what I wanted to do. Making those connections helped me discover a bit more about what was possible. Although it was discouraging to chase those leads and not end up anywhere, that experience helped me get outside my comfort zone and prepare myself for future interviews. I got to learn a bit of the language and the culture behind health communication agencies.

In the moment, you might feel like you’re back to square one. Back to scrolling down LinkedIn, filtering through Indeed, and all the rest. A small part of me was willing to compromise for positions that wouldn’t be creative at all. But every time I got an email back, if it didn’t have any design aspect, I didn’t even pursue it. I stuck to my desire for a hybrid position even if I didn’t know whether it even existed. Eventually, I found a position that perfectly mixes my health science background with my passion for art and design. I’m able to research and learn about science while designing graphics on Illustrator. In all honesty, l never knew a job like this existed. 

Like many other struggling graduates, my journey has been filled with ups and downs, moments of self-doubt and confusion. My piece of advice for my fellow struggling graduates? Keep going. Find that thing you love doing and chase it. Even though it makes no sense and isn’t really related to your field of study. Doing something you love makes all the difference between a ‘making-ends-meet’ and a ‘I-can’t-believe-I-get-paid-to-do-this’ feeling.”

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