Last year, I finally completed the required coursework for my Bachelor (degree) in Communication for Development at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology in Lae, Morobe Province. After my final semester ended I returned home to my mother in Alotau, Milne Bay Province. After sixteen years and a semester of being a student in the PNG education curriculum system – that is inclusive of the years at primary school through to university – I felt like I desperately needed a long break before taking on a full-time job. That led me to make one of those monumental life decisions. I decided that I was going to spend the year 2014 being an unemployed university graduate.
I have heard many of my peers complain about not being able to find ideal jobs after college/university, hating their unemployed status and therefore, left feeling worthless and useless inspite of their hard-earned certifications so I decided to share my reasons for gladly being an unemployed uni grad for this period in the hope of inspiring others in the similar situation to take on a more optimistic perspective and find ways to still be a productive member of society. The following were the main reasons I purposely opted for the temporary unemployed-uni-grad status:
1. Focus on myself. Getting an education is supposedly to benefit not just yourself but your sponsors, your family, the community and the country as a whole. So throughout the whole course of a Papua New Guinean’s pursuit in official education, we bear in mind to do our best not just for ourselves as individuals but for everyone involved in our journey. A graduation ceremony is celebrated by all your family and friends because in a way it is also everyone’s milestone. This time I wanted to be a bit selfish with my time. I was going to have a lot of ‘Me’ time to focus on myself. I needed the time alone to be able to seriously reflect on my personal development and progress in terms of my short-term goals, my long-term goals, my life principles, habits, character, personality, etc. I would read a lot of books on personal growth and make changes where necessary. I would clearly define who I want to be, how I want to live and how I would go about attaining my future goals. In other words, I was going to use that time to refine and rewrite my personal mission statement.
2. Develop and maintain productive hobbies. I wanted to develop productive and life-long hobbies that I never really had the time for. My interests varied greatly but I have always had a passion for art. There was something remarkably intriguing about creating something beautiful out of almost nothing and beautifying my world with fun and color. I was going to focus on reading, researching, gardening (flowers, vegetable and banana mushrooms – yes, you read the last part right 😉 ), photography, writing and blogging. I had so many project ideas in mind I could not wait to get started!
3. Honing my skills. Communication for Development is a wide field composed of many specialties. Most graduates consider themselves to be a jack-of-all-trades in social sciences because we have the options of specializing in Public Relations, Policy and Projects (Planning, Research, Development, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation), Interpretation and Translation, Social Mapping, Social Work, Community and Business Development, Media and Communication Arts and so on. Therefore, I wanted to see which specialties my strength and interest centered around and hone my skills and knowledge accordingly. This ‘free’ time would be utilized to doing my own research and reading.
4. Learn to budget, save and run a small business. I would be an unemployed young adult living under my hard-working single mother’s roof with other younger dependents but that would not necessarily mean I’d be without an income. There was the option of doing work on a contract basis and although the statement is debatable most Papua New Guineans believe the informal sector is of the same importance to the country’s economy as the formal sector and I was determined to take advantage of it. The informal sector was my ideal money-making avenue to sustain my social life and hobbies. Furthermore, I would muster the skills of budgeting, saving and running a small business. I would be taking a risk but then again, I love a good challenge 🙂
5. Spend more time with family and friends. Being a people person, I wanted to strengthen the bond I had with my loved ones by catching up occasionally over beverages and good food, writing those long letters, making those occasional long-distance phone calls, texting and whatsapping, babysitting my niece or just simply being there for them and being with them given the amount of ‘free’ time I would have.
6. Travel locally. Last but not least, I wanted to travel around the beautiful Milne Bay Province. We first moved to the province’s capital Alotau in 2005 and although I’ve been to villages and islands close to town, including my mother’s home island Sariba, I haven’t had the chance to travel further to the outer islands or the further coastlands. I wanted to see new places, meet new people and experience different rural living conditions and cultures. Each of Papua New Guinea’s 22 provinces has more than a dozen tribes with different cultures, traditions and languages. Milne Bay Province in itself has over 80 languages and 16 Local Level Governments composed of many different tribes. I wanted to see them all or at least most of them while I had the time.
Today is the 3rd of May, 2014 and so far I have lived up to my goals as an unemployed uni grad. My mother occasionally gives me a ‘soft nudge’ in the direction of my field’s job market but as always, she remains patient and understanding of my spontaneity. However, that is most probably because she sees me enjoying and learning new things every day. I am looking forward to my graduation on the 16th of this month and plan to send out job applications afterwards. But until I eventually land myself a job and get to put my skills to work officially, I will continue appreciating and enjoying the luxury of this slow-paced lifestyle – i.e. being unemployed, generating an income informally, and having all the time in the world to do what I love.
Although my unemployed-uni-grad status was a conscious personal decision, I believe everything happens for a reason and for everything, there is a season. Be of good cheer and stay positive!
Unemployed Uni Grad 🙂