By Hannah Lounsbery, Faith Co-Editor
Oklahoma Baptist University’s class of spring 2018 graduates in 30 days. With a month left to go, graduating seniors are juggling capstones, exams, chapel credits and extra-curricular activities along with a more daunting prospect: job hunting.
Looking for a career, trying to decide what city to live and work in and worrying about the transition into the adult world can be overwhelming, and in the midst of all this life-planning, the natural human response is to desire a plan.
How can we have faith in the Lord’s plan in a transition where it seems like everyone in our lives expects us to have it all figured out?
“I am a full-fledged planner and God knows it too,” Alyssa Sperrazza, fall 2017 graduate, said. “There have been so many times I’ve jumped the gun or tried to plan things out and Jesus is just over there going, ‘what are you doing? I got this!’ Patience and trusting in His plan are certainly not my strong suits.”
Sperrazza started searching for jobs the summer after her junior year. She is currently interning at the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting in Washington D.C.
“I’ll be honest, when I first moved to D.C., it was not the smoothest transition,” she said. “I was moving to a different part of the country, all by myself, barely knowing a soul. Leaving all my family and friends behind was rough.”
Sperrazza said that she learned how to rely on the Lord in her transition period because she had no other choice.
“It took a few months, but when I finally reached a place where I could call D.C. home, I was so thankful for those weeks where God taught me total reliance on Him,” she said.
While some graduates, like Alyssa, find paid internships after graduation, some grads go straight into the career field. Lia Hillman, who graduated in the Spring of 2017, started working a week after graduation.
She’s currently working for a company that produces newspapers for four small communities.
As some of her fellow grads were still submitting applications, Hillman was thrown straight into the stress of the working world.
“Within a few months, we had several people quit for various reasons leaving just two of us in charge of every little aspect of running four newspapers,” she said.
“I had a lot of growing up to do with all the sudden responsibilities. It’s been draining, overwhelming, fun and exciting all at the same time.”
A few months after she started working, Hillman’s 16-year-old cousin was killed in a car accident. Shortly after, she started working 70-80 hours a week.
“I started immersing myself in work and didn’t spend any time with family or friends. I even had to miss my family’s Thanksgiving because I was behind with work. After that, I decided that I wasn’t where I wanted to be in my life at this particular stage of my life,” she said.
“And ever since I reminded myself to breathe and take a break every once in a while, things have been much better! I do know that I never want to be in the position where I neglect my family and friends because of work.”
Hillman doesn’t know what the rest of her life will look like, but said that she has been comforted by advice from her family and the Lord’s promise.
“It’s hard to want to have faith in God’s plan,” she said. “I want to know what my life is going to be like in five years so I can know that what I’m doing will be worth it. But that’s impossible! So right now, all I can have is faith and trust in His plan.”
Katie Gilbert, spring 2016 graduate, needed to have faith in that plan not only in her career, but in the period of searching that it took to find it.
She looked for full time jobs while working at Falls Creek the summer after graduating. After three months of searching, she started working as a multimedia technician at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
“It isn’t what I imagined for myself for sure. Sometimes I think I made the wrong choice honestly, but God has really worked in me to be content where I am at and understand he has a future for me,” she said.
Gilbert said that even though she occasionally doubts the choices that brought her to her current position, she believes those feelings are normal.
“The current generation in college tends to think that once they graduate they have to have THE job that they dreamed of or planned on. Some people do and some people don’t; God has a funny way of teaching us patience, though,” she said.
Andrew Thomsen, who graduated in the fall of 2016, waited for a full semester before finding his career.
As a future educator, he didn’t want to start teaching in the middle of the school year. He said that looking for a long-term job wasn’t nearly as stressful as trying to decide what to do in the in-between period.
“I had three really good options that I had considered at length leading up to graduation. All three could be easily used to point to Him, which made the choice difficult,” he said. “Fortunately, God knows I like to procrastinate, and also that I’m terrible at making decisions.”
The interview process for his short-term job was short enough to force him to make quick decisions, and Thomsen said that he had more peace with the decision as he got closer to the position.
“As for my teaching career, I do not think there was really any conflict with God’s plan,” Thomsen said. “I knew sophomore year of college that I was supposed to go into education. The only issue upon graduation was determining where to teach. I had a strong passion for my home community and its schools, years before I felt God’s calling to be a teacher.”
While he hoped to teach at Carl Albert High School, one of Thomsen’s old teachers encouraged him to apply at the middle school as well, where he was eventually hired.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
“Seniors! Don’t feel like you have to have ‘it’ whatever that is right after college. Yes, some people magically have the Instagram perfect life, but we are all going through different things. Be content with where you are, understanding God has a plan or purpose, but be ready to pick up and leave at His calling.”
“Keep going. You don’t have to have life figured out. I’ve learned that even the most seemingly put together people don’t know what they’re doing all the time. You may think you know exactly what you want to do now, but in three months or three years, you may find out that you love something else. Just keep going, and keep doing good in the world.”
“I would advise young adults to not take their college environments for granted, and then when they graduate, young adults should not over-extend themselves to too many commitments that take their time away from having the opportunity to meet more people around their age. You have to work to have money needed, but do not be so consumed with making money that you do not leave ample social time.”
“My advice to graduating seniors would be to apply for anything remotely close to what you want to do. Also, don’t limit yourself to where you apply. When I was looking for jobs, I made sure to look at all 50 states and abroad. There’s plenty of time in your life for you to be picky, but while you can, go anywhere, see new places, continue learning new skills and worry about the smaller details later. Also, if you don’t get your “dream job” right away, don’t be discouraged. Chances are, the people that inspire you the most didn’t get there’s right away either! Be willing to grow, willing to learn, and enjoy this time where you can go and do anything you can imagine!”
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