This question comes from one of my favorite shows, The West Wing. Of course, like most of my favorite shows it’s no longer airing new episodes. President Bartlett would always pose the question, “What’s next?” to signal that he was ready to move on to the next subject. There’s a particular scene from season 2 during second episode of the season (the first 2 episodes were a 2-parter titled In the Shadow of Two Gunmen) that beautifully explained this idea (it’s a flashback to Bartlett’s first campaign and he’s surrounded by new staff examining a mistake he made in not being available for live questioning with a news station…he keeps saying, “What’s next?” and has to explain why he wants to move on). I would love to have a video clip for you to click on, but after an hour of searching YouTube, I could not find it. I found scenes from that episode that came before it and after it, but not the particular scene I wanted. Oy! Anyway, I highly recommend the episode and you can find it here on iTunes.
This question of “What’s next?” has been swimming around in my head for the past few months. For several years now I’ve been working towards completing my Master’s degree and starting my career as a Career Counselor. I decided to go down the career path of higher education and student affairs during the senior year of undergrad. That was roughly early 2005. So, for the past 6 years this is what I’ve been doing. I’ve been working my butt off to do well in my grad program, gain experience in a variety of areas, and secure a job. Now that I’m here, what do I work for? What bigger goal do I push myself towards? Do I choose a big goal? Or, do I pick smaller goals that aren’t as labor intensive? So many questions and no real answers that I can pinpoint at this moment.
I know this past spring I had the thought that if I were to cross a graduation stage again, it would be with a poofy hat. A doctorate degree. It’s such an overwhelming idea; especially when I start thinking about the amount of time, work, and money that would have to be invested for that degree. For now, I’m not going to worry about this. I just finished being a student and I would like to spend some time enjoying life without homework.
I think, for now, I’m going to focus on having a wonderful time working at UMD. I’m going to put my energy into being a great career counselor and helping amazing students figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives. I’ve been working for the past 6 years (10 if you count the 4.5 years of undergrad that I worked in the Career Services office as a student) towards becoming a career counselor. I might as well enjoy it now that I’ve gotten here.
Maybe, the question isn’t “What’s next?” Maybe, it’s “What’s now?”
What are you striving for these days?