Over the course of the past few days i've begun to accept the reality that I am done with college. That I am going to have to find myself a job and give up a little bit of my freedom in order to sustain myself. Of course, its a scary proposition, one that I am sure almost every college student experiences. I've never been one to accept large changes in my personal life. In technology, i'm totally open to change, moving forward and trying new things at a continuous pace. But things like moving and having close friends leave, I believe, have always hit me a little harder than others. This is a major milestone in my life and I need to accept it, I don't have a choice. Soon I will be moving out of my apartment in Rochester and my friends will be leaving to pursue their own goals. I am thankful for social applications like Twitter and Facebook to keep me in contact with my old friends, but I have to begin this new chapter in my life.
Right now the uncertainty of my future is getting to me. Looking at my iCal and seeing vast swaths of nothingness other than personal events. Right now i'm trying to appreciate the downtime, i've been going almost non-stop for the past five years at school, but now i've got nothing.
I've been interviewing for a large number of jobs lately, from structured wiring installer, to simple help desk positions, to network engineering positions at large financial firms. It's been a wild ride and I feel that I am honing my communications skills quite nicely thanks to it. Figuring out what works and what doesn't. Evaluating different companies and finding a place where I would feel at home.
Over the course of college I feel that I have changed immensely. During middle school and high school I was always the quiet one, the loaner, the nerd who spent time on his laptop instead of talking with his friends. It was common for my teachers to say that I "hid behind my laptop". I was never the one to be out on the soccer field, I was the one in the networking closet reconfiguring switches and configuring lab workstations.
RIT has been a life changing experience for me, as I believe that college should be. I've had so many opportunities to learn, to communicate, to build myself a solid base to start my career. Many complain that RIT is grey, dull, and boring, but I don't think I would trade my experiences at RIT for anything else. If I had the opportunity to do it all over again, I would in a second. Sure the weather sucked and the campus can be dreary at times. Sure the people can be a little freaky (a disproportionate amount of RIT bandwidth is consistently used for World of Warcraft). But when you go out and socialize, go out and make an effort to meet others, it's not bad. Life doesn't just throw friends in your lap, you need to go out and work to find them. This was a reality that I had a hard time grasping, but I think I've finally got it.
The professors in my department were very influential and challenged me to think "outside the box". The labs in my department were spacious and always stocked with great gear to play with. Lab assignments were always hands-on, requiring us to go out and find information from a multitude of different sources, not just notes from the professor. We were expected to go above and beyond to get our work done well, we weren't allowed to just coast by. With my graduation I think I am going to miss the ability to go in and play with hardware the most. The fact I had a fully stocked cage full of equipment was a geeks dream. The ability to go in, check out a couple of routers, build a topology, and test it was really great. I don't think many of my classmates took advantage of the labs as much as they could of.
As I move forward I try to think back. I try to remember my best accomplishments as I push forward to meet new goals that I am still working to define. But I strive for structure. When I was in school I had assignments to complete, group meetings to attend, and an overall sense of purpose. Lately, without school, that structure has been reduced to finding a job. I've been pushing myself to work on little pet projects in order to keep myself sane. Like participating in Rochester Barcamp and building up my personal server farm.
Next week I will be back in Rochester for the career fair. I would really like to have a solid position pinned down soon, something that I will really love. This uncertainty is really getting the better of me at this point.