College senior confused on what to do for work

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    Hi everyone,

    I recently turned down a job offer because the pay was incredibly low. I have loans that I would like to pay off. Ultimately I know that I want to be a psychiatrist or a psychologist. I want to work with people in a counseling type job. I’m a senior in college, so I will be graduating soon. I haven’t heard back from any of the other jobs I applied to. If I were to become a psychiatrist, I would need to go to med school to get an M.D., but if I wanted to become a psychologist I would need to go to graduate school for a Phd. I am not a competitive applicant for either of those programs, but I can get a masters degree first to raise my undergraduate GPA and then apply to one of these graduate schools. Of course, a masters degree will be very costly on top of all of the loans from graduate school. Some Phd programs will pay for their students, but I’m not sure if I will be accepted to one of those with my undergraduate GPA. What I think may work is if I get a job to pay off some of my loans while looking for masters programs and doing a masters program while I work. Then, I can apply to graduate schools. Does anyone have any ideas? I can’t even find a job as of now and I’m feeling really lost.


    Hi Annie,

    I’d say don’t give up on your plan on wanting to raise your GPA but be 100% sure that this is the route you want to take on obtaining a Ph.d in Psychology. If it is, then awesome go for it! 🙂 Apply and see what happens, then take it from there on what you want to do next. Try to not stress too much on your student loans, pay what you are able to pay towards your loans.

    As far as jobs. The best paying jobs are the service industry ones. Fine dining restaurants or Hillstone Group – You will make really excellent money and only have to work 5-6 hours a day or night. They offer great benefits too. Plus flexibility with your schedule. Hourly jobs just don’t cut it these days, only jobs like these do.

    I used to work at the one in California and in Arizona during the summers, years ago… I made awesome money and a lot of people I worked with back then, still work their because the money is so good.

    Does this help?


    Hi Annie,

    I have a mate who did a ‘baccalaureate’ program, and by passing the core subjects they admitted him into Med school. Maybe look for programs like that, one’s that feed into major programs. I don’t know a lot about the industry, so i can’t comment on how you would enter into it. Have you considered doing counselling instead? You use the word counseling to describe psychiatry. They are two different fields; Psychology looks at the mind, behavior and how our mind works. Whereas counseling looks at helping others understanding and assisting others with their everyday lives (problems, situations etc.). This forum is basically a form of counseling. 🙂 I don’t know where you are, but in Australia you can do specific degrees for counseling at TAFE (tech college) or at university. Most of the time, counselors work everywhere and anywhere, they are not regulated and as such cannot dispense medication (I believe). Just ignore this section if i got the wrong end of the stick 😉

    As for loans and rising debt. This is something i think about often. Personally, even if low paying, turning down work isn’t the best option nowadays. Maybe/ hopefully you will get a call back for some of the other jobs you applied for. The loans if they are like Australia, you shouldn’t have to pay back instantly. The only thing you could do is keep going for a masters or looking for a way into med school. And just pay if off later on in life. This is the reality of the situation i’m afraid. I worked for 7 years or so after finishing high-school so i had income to support myself up until recently to continue to go to university. Now i take loans since i left work to go full time. If i had time and was offered a job, i would definitely take it.

    What I think may work is if I get a job to pay off some of my loans while looking for masters programs and doing a masters program while I work.

    THis is a great idea. What about community college’s? Night courses? This way you could work during the day and attend class at night. Either way, working and studying is what a lot of students do. If you can find part time work even casual in the field you want to get into, you may be able to see if it’s for you etc. As someone said to me today, ‘this is my future self’s issue, not right now”, so look at it that way, if you want.

    I don’t think you are too lost. You seem to have a goal, somewhat of an idea of where you want to go, it’s more the financial side of things that concern you the most. I would be speaking to professors, professionals in the field you want to get involved in, because they can give you the down low and where and what to study. What are you studying now? Maybe some of those courses may allow you to enter into post grad courses. Speak to career advisers at college as well.

    Hopefully this was helpful. Overall, as long as you have a direction then whether it takes a year to 10 years to reach the destination, you will still get there in the end.



    Also, if you already obtain a college degree then you can even get a really good high paying salary in a management position. You get to move around and when they need you to move to another location/city/state therapy you an great bonus check, an even higher salary, they will pay for all your moving expenses and rent owed at the current place you are living to re-locate. Let’s say you don’t want to re-locate and you want to stay where you’re at, you still get an excellent salary and benefits regardless. Another cool thing is that, when you get hired in the management position, you get to train in Napa Valley, California which is really nice too.

    Only people with a college degree are able to apply for management positions. So this is a high quality company, you may like in the meantime but given that you’re wanting to keep going to school. Being a server or bartender will work out a lot better for you. The choice is yours 🙂


    Jock Gilchrist

    Hey Annie,

    I can relate so thoroughly to your position. I’m a recent graduate (May ’13) and I considered med school at one point and am still considering getting a psychology degree too. The job market can be unfriendly and super confusing to navigate for sure.

    My best advice is to start somewhere. A practical suggestion is completing an AmeriCorps program. This is what I did right after graduation. Not only does it look great on a resume (employers and schools like seeing service work), but it allows student loan deferment while you’re in the AmeriCorps (so no interest on loans). It ALSO gives you a $5,500 award towards graduate school OR loans once you complete a program.

    There are AmeriCorps positions in practically every field. Public health, administration, environmental stuff, schools/education, disaster relief, etc.

    When I graduated college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where to start. I knew I wanted work experience so I could have a practical understanding to apply to whether or not I wanted to attend grad school. Long story short, I found an AmeriCorps program in California and moved across the country. The pay is crap, but I met a bunch of amazing people. Through those connections, I landed a job after AmeriCorps that paid better and was more interesting. Then through the connections in that job, I landed another job that paid better and was more interesting than the prior. All in a field (healthcare) I thought I didn’t care about — but I’m surprised at how much my work interests me now.

    Even if you don’t want to do AmeriCorps, there are other ways to begin building a life and profession you’re happy with. One of my favorite quotes is “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.” Do not wait to be CERTAIN about something before taking a first step. After that first step, you’ll have a new view. You’ll see some things more clearly. Confidence and clarity come after you act, not before.

    As far as I can tell, this is how the awkward post-grad life works — you keep moving, not entirely sure of where you’re going, but slowly things get better and better. The fog clears.

    I know the feeling of uncertainty that comes with college graduation. It doesn’t go away, so make friends with it.

    (One last idea–look up the work of Cal Newport, who researches passion. One of his most interesting findings: what do most people who say they are living in and working with the field of their passion have in common? The only thing that they all shared was how LONG they had been in that line of work. In other words, passion comes from mastery, and the idea of needing to “find your passion” before you commit to trying something too often holds people back from trying anything. Passion is developed through expertise, not discovered through a thunderbolt to the brain.)

    I really hope this was helpful! Best of luck to you!



    Hi ElleTinker700,

    I think it is a good idea not to stress about loans too much. Obviously it will be a process and will take some time paying them off. I would be really unhappy working in a food related job, i’m not very good at it. I think another factor that plays into this is that I’ve worked so hard for four years and paid a lot of money for a good education. I would like some payoff for this at the least least. You are right, management positions are definitely what i’m after at this point. 🙂

    Hi Matty,
    I have considered post-baccalaureate programs. I may take a look into it a bit more once I can secure a job. I didn’t write in this post, but moving home is not an option. I think you are right and it’s a wonderful idea that you can have a specific degree to become a counselor/ advisor. I may look into that a little bit more. I’m studying neuroscience, but unfortunately my GPA isn’t very competitive to get into a good school. My friend has encouraged me to apply regardless of that. I will think about it.

    Hi Jockgilchrist,
    I did get accepted to a low wage job, which I rejected. I think I may not do an AmeriCorps job for that same reason. I really like your quote “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.” and when you said not to be CERTAIN about something before taking a first step. I think this is kind of key for me. I’ve done this in the past and it has turned out really well (like applying for college), however, in other situations it has turned out horribly. I think I just need to keep applying and kind “throwing the net out” to see what I can catch. For a while I got so busy that I couldn’t focus on applying to jobs on top of all my other work. I did meet someone and it inspired me to look into sales jobs. It looks promising. I will let you know more later.

    Thanks for responding everyone!

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