If you had asked me in my senior year of college what I was going to do with for the rest of my life career wise I would have told you I was going to teach K-6 music until the day I retired. I loved music. I loved working with children. It all had to work out…right?
When May 2009 finally came along and I had officially graduated from The College of New Jersey in the top 15% of my class, with a cumulative GPA of 3.73 I did not just automatically land a job. We are too often told that if you do well in College that the job search will be easy, resulting in a job within the first few months out of undergraduate or graduate school at this point. But that is not always the case. Yes, many are lucky, such as some of my classmates that obtained tenure track music education positions right out the gate but many of us did not fare as well. Of course I had been programmed to believe that I would land a job right out of College and so when it was not so easy to do just that, I broke. Those few months out of undergrad when I was searching I felt lost. I questioned how it could be possible to struggle so much to find a job. I began to question the plan I had made for myself and how I would get there. But remember plans change sometimes often times it may be for the best. In the end, my reality ended being that I barely landed any kind of job. I applied to over 80 teaching jobs, was called in for only 3 interviews and landed 1 part time teaching job at a K-6 public school near my hometown. As I began to teach I immediately began to think about obtaining my master’s degree because my original plan had just not worked out.
The plan had always been to get my master’s degree a few years down the road in administration so that I could be a principal or school administrator of some sort down the road but, as the title of this post says, sometimes the best laid plans are the ones you didn’t make for yourself. Life had other plans for me when I did not land that full time teaching job right of college. Life created a new path for me by guiding me right into my master’s program in counseling.
At the time I chose counseling for two reasons. 1) Montclair State University had one of the best higher education counseling programs 2) a degree in counseling in higher education opened up my job opportunities for higher education which I figured was a good idea since my bachelor’s degree allowed me to teach any grade in music and I also had my K-5 certification in elementary education. I thought it best to open another door and so I did so by going into a program that would end in my first full time job at Bergen Community College.
I could retell all the details of my journey at Bergen and how even there some of the plans I made for myself changed but that’s a story for another day. So I’ll fast forward while going back and say if I could look back at my senior year self I’d tell her to stop planning. Yes, there are some plans we must make for ourselves. But sometimes things just do not happen the way we thought they would and that’s the best thing that could have happened. Looking back on it now not getting a full time job right out of undergrad may have been the best plan I did not ask for. I look back at my life now and I wonder what it would actually be like to be teaching music every single day. I still love music very much but I am a firm believer in the fact that I ended up doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing with my life.
Music went back to being my hobby, my escape and my passion outside of student affairs. Student affairs became a career which I never saw coming. I was the student who went to class, did well, and never knew about the ins and outs of how new student orientation came together, what went into making commencement happen and thought that every kid was a goody two shoes like me. I never knew student conduct offices existed and never would have thought I’d end up working in #stuconduct and #TitleIX.
I have no idea what the future holds because if you would have told me 6 months ago I would have gone from working at Bergen #comm_college to a big 10 like Rutgers University I’d probably have dismissed your comment as a joke but here I am. So for now I am just going to buckle down and do what I do best, work hard. And if I work hard enough and do my job well then who knows what the road ahead has in store for me. All I do know is that the plan I have not made for myself as of yet may be the plan that comes together for me. So to my former self I say, relax, work hard, enjoy the ride and the rest will come together in time because so far the best laid plans were the ones you and I did not make.
Written by: Juhi Bhatt