Life After College: A Whole New World.
Mechanical Engineering BS/ME '15
College can be a stressful time. There are exams, projects, day to day assignments and homework that all need to be completed simultaneously. You try to maintain our health with exercise, food, and sleep. Clubs, activities, sports teams, jobs, and more take up whatever spare time you have left. At the end of a busy day, you might say to yourself “Is there an end in sight to this?” or “Will I ever be ahead of it all?” If you ask these or similar questions, know you are not alone; it happens to (almost) everyone. And I’m here to tell you that, yes, there is an end in sight, and yes, you will get
After graduating in 2015, I moved to Erie, PA instead of moving back home to Boston, MA. The idea of moving to a new place brought about a mixed bag of emotions. Who would I know? How would I make friends? Was I going to feel like I fit there? Was I going to regret it? I was filled with excitement and anxiety; I was intimidated but invigorated.
I’ve been in Erie now about 10 months now and I can tell you it’s been a journey. At first, it was very easy to just not want to try – I was burnt out and exhausted from school. But I realized that it was okay that I wanted to spend my free time just relaxing on my couch, watching copious amounts of Netflix and reading books I had longed to read when I was in school. I needed that time for me. Once I felt recuperated and rejuvenated, I started to realize just how much time I had on my hands, I was overwhelmed. My first reaction was “Wait – this is what I’ve been dreaming of! No homework, no tests! I finally feel refreshed and no longer exhausted. How can I be anxious now?”
The answer was simple, but it didn’t come to me immediately. It took time, talking with friends and family, and taking some time for self-reflection. School had been so all-consuming that I had forgotten to think about me, what I enjoyed, what I wanted out of life. Those questions are not easy, nor do they have static replies. What we want out of life will change as we garner new experiences and our perspectives change.
The answer was simple: I hadn’t thought that far in advance; I had no plan. The goal was to get to graduation – I wasn’t prepared for life after college. Yes, I had the degree but life is more than a job. With some time and thought, I came to the conclusion I wanted to become more established, connected with my community and place I was calling home. I explored Erie, driving around and checking out interesting places. As a new resident, I decided to be a tourist and see what Erie had to offer. I also am picking up old hobbies I used to love – swimming, dance classes, and horseback riding to name a few. But I also now have the opportunity (both financially and time-wise) to try new things, things I had always wanted to try but never did. I took a kung fu class, sang karaoke, started painting, and making stained glass art. I have a running list of things I want to try, hobbies to pick back up, and places I want to explore. I’ve made friends with people at work and outside of work through these activities.
It’s been a heck of a journey and it’s only just beginning. The best part is the freedom to choose what I do with my day. If there is a day I don’t want to try new things, I can go back to the couch with a good book or a Netflix session. The opportunities and possibilities are endless. It is what you make of it, whatever you want. And that fact is so empowering and inspiring. So hang in there, you can make it through the caffeine driven, late night study sessions and seemingly endless assignments. What awaits you is well worth the wait.
Michelle is a Mechanical Engineer with LORD Corporation in Erie, PA. She graduated from RIT in 2015 with a B.S. & M.E. in Mechanical Engineering, and is originally from Boston, MA.