Just over two weeks ago, I graduated from BYU with a master’s degree in linguistics. On Friday, I finished my last day at my job. (It was a student job, so I was able to work up to two weeks after graduation, but no more.) I worked there just shy of six years, all told—about a year as an undergrad and just under five more as a graduate student. It feels odd not to be going to campus today. Of course, the first day of unemployment always feels odd, without the regular activities that have given your day structure for months or years.
My last day of work was definitely bittersweet. I’d been feeling for a while like it was time for me to move on, but it’s always sad to leave something familiar behind. I have a lot of good memories from that job and have made some good friends there. My superiors said some very nice things and thanked me for all my work over the years. And then I cleaned out my drawer and left.
I’m glad to be done with school. It took me a couple years longer than I’d planned, but I’m glad I did it. (At least now I am; I’m not sure how I’ll feel several months from now if I’m still struggling to find a decent job.) Even if it doesn’t pay off monetarily, I learned and grew a lot, and I’m glad for the experience. I’ll miss the weekly meetings with my advisor, which frequently (but enjoyably) veered off topic into issues of usage and prescriptivism and the mindset of copy editors. I’ll miss walking across campus, climbing the well-worn steps in the library, and finding a carrel in a secluded corner and writing.
Graduating with my master’s feels quite a bit different from graduating with my bachelor’s. I haven’t had real classes in over a year, and I was actually finished with my program classes two years ago. I even finished with my thesis about two months ago—the defense was March 8, and then I had a week to do revisions. Then it took me another week to get the stupid formatting perfect so that the library would accept the PDF of my thesis. It’s been kind of a long, slow coda to the grad-school experience. It still seems odd to think that it’s really over.
I still don’t know what’s next. I decided a while back to not go on for a PhD, so I’m just looking for a job but haven’t found one yet. I have a couple of freelance writing gigs, but they’re more of a side thing, not enough to live on. But if I can get enough other freelance work going, I think I’ll be happy with that. I’m hopeful that something will work out, but I think this is one of those times when I need to take a couple of steps into the dark before the light appears.