When you’re a graduating undergraduate in anthropology (primatology, specifically), the world is scary as each day brings you closer to leaving the comfort of the university you’ve come to know and love. I am roughly 22 days away from graduating, a prospect of which I am none too excited about. In my case, there are a lot more questions than answers, and a lot of self-doubt and anxiety.
Truth be told, I’ve been struggling with the idea of graduating for awhile now. The now obsessive thoughts of: “What about next year?,” “What if I don’t get a job six months out from now?,” “If I don’t get anything, how will I be able to make myself more marketable for jobs and graduate schools?” and the like are things that keep me awake at night or distract me from things I should not be distracted on as almost all of my grades are on the cusp. Truth be told, the fact I haven’t given myself an ulcer yet makes me appreciate my body just a little bit more.
I suspect I’m not the only one who has these thoughts and I suspect I’m not the first or last person that will think these things. I acknowledge I am very privileged to even be able to have these thoughts, but that does not dissolve the constant anxiety of the situation I’m in.
I’ve given up on chasing after the much desired Ph.D. right off of the bat–I know my grades aren’t strong enough to compete for that and I suspect my GRE scores won’t be much better; especially as I’ve only given myself essentially two months to prepare for it given the new changes in August (Calculus?! OH GOD WHY). Instead, I’m looking at strictly Master’s programs for now to bolster my chances. I have two in mind currently and will be doing research into some other programs. But yet, I still can’t help but feel this isn’t enough for a Master’s program–that I need to do more and more to make up for the things I lack.
I have had field school/work practice. I have done captive studies. I have two strong people in the field willing to vouch for me in addition to another outside of primatology, but within anthropology. My grades in primatology classes are fairly strong. But yet, with a year inbetween–I can’t help but feel like this year depletes the meaning and importance of these, or so I get the feeling. It’s not as if I haven’t been obsessively checking Primate Info Net, AZA.org, Society for Conservation Biology–in addition to multiple non-profit job websites, qualitative research positions, etc.–anything to be using this degree. I haven’t ruled out doing a retail job for a significant portion of the year and working enough so that I’ll be able to make payments on the looming student loan, and maybe going off on some volunteer field work.
I know there are options, it just doesn’t feel like it, particularly so when you receive nine rejection letters in one day alone. And sure, it makes me think twice–if I can’t even get a job with a retail position, how is it I can even dare to think I’d be a decent applicant for graduate school? I know it only takes one job. And I do have six months of leeway, though that time is slowly whittling down from the day of graduation onward. But still, I wonder. What is it these people are really looking for? Am I doing the right things given my situation?
When you’re a graduating undergraduate in primatology with no prospects on the foreseeable horizon, the idea of graduating becomes just that much more intimidating. If you happen to come across a tiny girl with a sign that says “Will work in primatology for recommendation letters and experience,” come say hi.