Friday, February 12, 2010

After-College Plans

Let's talk about what I'm going to do after I graduate from college. It's horse-related, I promise.

I think about the future a lot. As you may have noticed by now, I'm a pretty goal-oriented person. I love the process, I love hanging out with my horses, and I love doing what I'm doing, but I always have an eye to where I'm going next. I want to know where this is leading. I want to know what I'll be working on next week, next month, next year. 

You can imagine that college is extremely frustrating to this "need-to-know-what-the-plan-is" part of me.

Because, frankly, I don't really know what I want to do after I graduate. I think that's pretty common in students my age. 

A few weeks ago, I ended up in an interesting discussion during office hours with a professor who asked me what I was thinking of doing with my degree in Biology. Part of my problem is that I really do like a lot of things. Science is great and I find a lot of my Bio classes really interesting (Organic Chemistry is another story). But I really enjoy the "fuzzy" sciences (history, literature, etc), and some of my Honors College humanities classes have been amazing. But I also love writing--hence blog, and the writing classes I have been taking, and the application I'm working on now to get into a yearlong creative writing class for next year. And I really don't want to launch straight out of college into graduate school and then find out when I'm 30 that I don't want to be a scientist.

So I have a lot going on. Anyway-- professor told me about his life immediately after college. He thought he wanted to go to grad school, but wasn't 100% sure. So he headed out into the world, spent years in New York City, worked for all kinds of different people in all kinds of different places. After several years, he found that he really did want to go to grad school. So he went and found that his level of focus and commitment was way above most other grad students', because he'd spent time living out in the world and he KNEW that this was what he wanted to do.

All of this is basically a long way of saying, Don't decide yet; go out and live a little first. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this and discussing it with my parents, trying to figure out ways to go explore what I want to do and what I don't want to do.


I've decided to spend some time as a working student at an eventing barn after I graduate. 

I have two and a half years until I graduate, which should be plenty of time to do some research on the programs I'm interested in, apply early, and save up some money. Basically I need a program that provides a good place to live for me and full board for a horse, plus the obvious coaching/riding/etc. I should be able to save up enough money to feed myself for a year or so - hopefully - but there's no way I'll be able to pay to work on top of that!

It's still pretty up in the air. When you add up food for yourself, any entry fees, any tack or blankets or anything you need, insurance...AND you factor in the zero-income gets a little sketchy for me. This is part of why I want to sell Pandora: with only one horse between the two of us, I can put a lot more of my money into savings.

The other factor will be the money from Pandora's purchase price. I have no idea what I will be asking at this point, so we'll figure that out closer to the time we actually list her. I could use that money to live off of, but there's another part of my plan to be a WS. I would really like to acquire a young, talented, and hopefully inexpensive TB or TB-cross prospect once I am settled in at my WS location. I would be able to use the high volume of really good instruction to bring along the horse without making too many mistakes, which would be quite nice. Now, you can get pretty nice off-the-track Thoroughbreds for pretty cheap, but it would still probably take a few thousand depending on where I ended up.

It is not the only option I'm considering for post-college plans, but it is one of the options I am most excited about. Right now I am researching lots of different programs. There's a fairly local one that I'm checking out-- I'm actually going to speak with the trainer this weekend when she brings some students to our schooling show. The big advantage to this is that she's close enough that trial lessons, riding interviews, etc would only require a bit of a drive, rather than an expensive plane ticket. I could also visit home occasionally, which would be nice! But I'm also looking at plenty of other places.

I'm working on a list of programs that I will call and ask for more information about, especially because many places don't post all the details of their programs on their website (such as oh, by the way, you have to pay $200 a month to be a WS here). West coast is great, but I'm looking at a lot of east coast places too, because HOW COOL would it be to get over there in the heart of eventing country? Very cool.

So that's the plan. Please, please let me know if any of you guys have any ideas or experiences! You're also welcome to send me an email if you'd prefer - my address is on my profile page.

PS: the jumping lessons are still going wonderfully. Update on that/dressage/McKinna/etc in the next post.


Leah Fry said...

When I went to school, the first 2 years were required stuff anyway, so I didn't have to focus too much on what I really wanted to do until I was a junior.

Sounds like a good plan to me. Explore the Chester County, PA area. The fox hunts used to go across the back of our property. I used to visit a huge farm where the US Equestrian Team practiced. Fun stuff.

Do you want the TB as another project that you would eventually sell?

manymisadventures said...

I'm not sure about the time-frame for the prospect horse. Ideally, I would keep it for quite a long time as we moved up the levels...but it's quite a ways in the future, so who knows.

Deered said...

Have you thought about travelling for 6 -12 months after you finish? You could even look at working in stables in another country (UK/europe etc). I have no idea of what the visa/working holiday permit requirements are of course!

Julie said...

Enjoyed my visit to your blog!


Val said...

Go bio majors!
I read something about organic chem in your blog a while ago, and it made me go "hmmmm". Not too many people take that one as an elective, so she must be a science major. I too was a biology major in college. I absolutely loved studying science, but I do understand the challenge(s) of pursuing a science degree. A BS or Masters degree is not an end degree in science, so the question is always "what next?"

I do have a recommendation. Apply for an independent-study research position at your school. If you are considering research scientist as a future profession, you should give it a try at this level before grad school. I took this advice during my junior year. I had a great experience, I learned a lot, and I even draw upon that experience to help my science students now. But as you can see from my profile, I did not become a research scientist. Later I found that education was my true calling and that is why I went to graduate school. I believe that your professor gave you some good advice!

manymisadventures said...

Deered-- yes, I've definitely thought about it! Travel is one of the other options I'm considering. A friend of a friend travels the world, spending a few years in different places teaching English, and his life seems pretty cool to me.

It's a bit challenging for me to think of (as is the WS idea) just because I've been such a homebody my whole life. Forget going out on a Friday, I'd rather hang out at home with a book and a cup of tea ;)

Val-- I'm actually in the Honors College, and as a senior project you complete a thesis in your major. As a Bio major, I'll be conducting an independent research project and writing my thesis on it. So I will definitely get some research time in! I've just joined a lab whose work I may be interested in, so we'll see where that goes.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually a grad student working on my Ph.D. in Biology. I didn't really know what I was getting into when I started this program, but I do like it a lot. However, it made me realize that I don't want to be a research scientist, I just want to teach at the University level. I'm glad you are doing some undergrad research experience.
I wish I could do a WS position somewhere, that would be awesome!

I hope to buy my first horse when I get a job with my Ph.D. For now, I take dressage lessons and free ride.

Good luck! Your future looks bright!

Val said...

Great! You must be one smart cookie! Best of luck.

Crazy Easton Family said...

There is a great horsey barn here, and tons of colleges right in our area. :) the boarding might be pretty cheap if you know someone in the area ;)

Yankecwgrl said...

check out

Rachel said...

I'm the same way. I always have to know what comes next. I went straight to grad school. Now I finally have the time to put my horse first. But I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post so you've probably made a more definite decision by now but I saw this in your recap post and wanted to comment!
I'm a lot younger than you (not a LOT, but still in high school) and I'm a working student. Even this time in high school doing it has helped me really know that this is what I want to do. It is the best experience I've ever had and I highly recommend it!!!

manymisadventures said...

Thanks for posting your thoughts! You're right - in the time since this post, I've grown even more solid in my decision :) I am saving up $$$ for my next partner and for my time as a WS, and working on narrowing down my list of potential programs.

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