Unrealistic expectations or unprepared for reality?

by hexacoto

Let’s talk about expectations.

Recently, it was reported in Singapore that a majority of students from Singapore National Technological University received job offers  even before they graduated. How realistic is that, where companies are clambering to give graduates jobs even before they finish their undergraduate studies? Hardly at all.

But that is the sort of expectations I grew up with, and in a way what I expected myself to fulfil in some way. Growing up, I thought that if I put in the requisite effort in school, and graduated basically a brilliant person, the transition into adult working life would come naturally.

It’s been two months since I graduated and not only have no companies come to headhunt me, all of my applications have gone on unnoticed.

It has been a trying two months, and I fear that this is not the end of that.

I did my internships, my GPA is not abysmal. Having worked hard and knowing people in the industry have not yielded me any offers. My friends in business school have mostly gotten jobs and moved on with their lives, while I languish in unemployment and write this blog in a vain attempt to ‘increase my online profile,’ when in reality this is mostly a helpful distraction to keep me otherwise occupied. While I have cone to reject the idea of pre-graduation job-attainments as impractical, a part of me is still disappointed with myself for having not fulfilled that expectation that people back home would have of me. One of which certainly includes not being unemployed for two months and counting.

My cousin who went to Brown University here in the States went back to Singapore to work after college, and from what I’ve heard, she had to learn to readjust to the heavily-structured expectation-system that Singaporeans have and impose on one another. For example, people are expected to be at a certain level in their workplace and be earning a certain income at certain ages, or else they’d be considered to be ‘losing out’ or falling behind. A 30-year old in Singapore is most certainly expected to be earning more than $3,000 a month, and to have attained their first promotion already, regardless of the sector. By their mid-30’s, one who is not in some form of management must have some sort of ‘flaw’ in their character, or why else would they not have moved upwards already?

All these do not even permit for questions such as “What if I don’t want to move up?” or “What if I don’t want to be a field that has such structures?”

My cousin had a hard time assimilating back into such a demanding culture, after having spent a considerable amount of time in places that allowed her freedom to decide her academic path without expectations for what she should be achieving. I have no doubt that were I to go back, my self would grind itself raw at the prospect of having to live a life laid out for you by proxy of other peoples’ expectations.

And yet, as I eschew those expectations, in my current joblessness, they never fail to remind me how much of a mire I am in in comparison to those who are already drawing paychecks and have moved on.