What to do in our 20s

What to do in our 20s

Kate Snider

October 1, 2020

“I’m graduating, but what now?” is the burning question for students and their new degrees. So many career and life opportunities lay ahead. With social media platforms, students are pulled multiple directions in where to start, thinking that their lives should look like what they see in others’ posts. Many blogs have compiled lists of what to do in our 20s. One Huffington Post article lists 12 things we should be doing in our 20s. Within the list, you find both “chase your dream job” and “traveling lots-sometimes alone.” But which comes first? Our careers or our spontaneous life experiences? 

“Travel the world!” “See the most while you’re young!” “Make mistakes!”

Instagram influencers show the highlights of following big dreams to take the less traditional route in our twenties. Their lifestyles seem attainable with their “figure it out along the way” mindsets, but students must consider that some influencers lack college debt. A prominent role model for many on Instagram is Indy Blue, a 23 year-old blogger that labels herself as a nomadic traveler.  When scrolling through Blue’s Instagram, you can find pictures of her posing in front of famous monuments all over the world. One of her captions reads “…I booked a one way flight to Paris, because if I was going to be lonely, I might as well be lonely in Paris, right?” She then proceeds to tell of her adventure meeting new friends. Blue embodies risk and spontaneity for her 337K followers. Although she is now settling down due to her recent pregnancy, she maintains a strong following. 

In an opinion article from Retire Before Dad, recent graduates are given advantages of traveling in their 20s. Health and fearlessness are the top two. In your 20s, you’re in peak health and condition to bike, swim, ski, and hike. The fearlessness you hold in your 20s to ride on motorized bikes in congested Asian cities without helmets or jump out of planes begins to fade as you become older.  

While Instagram promotes a path of travel, the advice is contradicting with the log-in of our LinkedIn accounts. A post made by Hadi Zein, an upcoming graduate, opens with “It’s hiring season!” and shares an inspirational message about job searching for his peers. Zein has over 500 connections and a detailed profile on the site. Most LinkedIn users have come across someone like Zein on their feeds, and it makes them question themselves — “Should I be doing that?” LinkedIn has many 20 year-olds out on the hunt to achieve their dream jobs, and those users may see content making them feel the pressure to jump immediately into the working world. 

According to Dr. Meg Jay in her new book The Defining Decade, a significant portion of our lifetime earning potential happens in our 20s, making it important to start work immediately. Starting work in your 20s will lead to a salary plateau by your 40s. This makes it difficult to reach the salary peak in your 40s if you start in your 30s. 

Students today are graduating with debt and uncertainty. The global pandemic has caused a recession throughout the United States, making many jobs more unattainable to new graduates. Chasing their dream jobs may be a rocky road starting in 2020/2021. This is steering more and more students towards the opportunity of starting their travels early. Making their 20s a time of travel and spontaneity would transition students from in-class learning to learning from the world around them. 

When students move their tassels to the left, a decision is expected to be made. Whether graduates jumpstart their life experiences or buckle down into their careers, they will be faced with positive and negative consequences. Students must evaluate which decision best aligns with their long-term goals and trust that they are making a good decision, no matter which they pick. 

Kate Snider is a senior majoring in Advertising with a concentration in copywriting. Outside of class, Kate works at the Creative Center – a new organization started within Comm Arts to assist other creatives with their portfolios. She is continuously inspired by encounters with new people and places. Post-graduation, Kate plans on looking for work in Portland, Oregon to expand her hobbies of hiking and photography.