The Exit Strategy

Let’s rewind four years back. I was 18-years-old and preparing to graduate high school from Hickory High in North Carolina. A question that I hated seemed to always come up:

“What are you going to do after graduation?”

I knew exactly what I was going to do after graduation, but I hated talking about it. I was nervous that I would be under a giant microscope, and not attending a prestigious southern private school would instantly brand me as being a “free spirit” or something of the like. Regardless, I did what I wanted to do and could not imagine my higher education years going any  better.

Fast forward back to present day. I’m about to graduate from the University of Oregon with my B.A. in journalism with hopes and dreams of a job. People, once again, come up to me and ask me the loaded question that seems to run through American’s life blood like Osmosis Jones:

“So, what are you doing after graduation?”

The pressure can crack you like Lucille without her maternity meds.

The pressure can crack you like Lucille without her maternity meds.

The only difference is, this time they say it with a somber tone—expecting you to say, “I’m moving back in with my parents,” or “I’m thinking about going back to school,” or the god-forbid “I don’t know.”

But, you know what, I do know. I am wrapping up an 10-week internship at a Portland publication through an immersive program that has taught me more over the duration than many classes did put together. I now know the inter-workings of an industry that prides itself on a calm-collected external image while all hell is breaking loose in the internal—I am 100 percent sure that couldn’t have been taught any of that in a classroom.

So, to all those who are wondering, I know what I will be doing come June: I’ll be graduating and using the skills given to me over the past four years and translating them into the business world with the internships that this school has provided me. The PDXSX cohort has been an extremely hard-working cohort, looking forward to big, bright futures. And you know what, we earned it. I’m excited to see where we go.


-Branden Andersen


About brandenandersen

Portland, Oregon
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8 Responses to The Exit Strategy

  1. I fear this question a lot too, which is stupid. We shouldn’t care what other people think. All that matters is that we took a great opportunity and we have gained so much insight. I completely agree that after 10 weeks of knowledge in my field, I have learned more than 4 years in a classroom at the UO. Kinda sad, but true. Real life and application of that knowledge is what matters, not what we’re doing after college, but what we will do in life.

  2. PDXSX says:

    Good post, Branden!

  3. Nick Smith says:

    I think it’s funny that all of us wonder what each other are going to do. One of the things I always try and do is have and exit strategy. Always have a backup. After this program we’re all going to be Boyscouts. Great final post Branden

  4. littlebrittanyb says:

    I must admit that I love your inclusion of Arrested Development in this post. Having an exit strategy is something we always discuss in business, but few of us apply it to our personal lives. Personally, I freeze whenever someone asks me what my post-graduation plans are, even though I know the answer. Great post Branden and good luck on your adventures!

  5. megmarieshea says:

    What a great way to summarize the Senior/Portland Experience as a whole for all of us! Just think we are steps ahead of our friends down in Eugene. Along with the 10 weeks of internship experience, we have also had a close group of people and advocates helping us along the journey. I think we should be confident when people ask what our plans are cause we can also talk about everything we have done the past 10 weeks and that should make them quiet 🙂 Good luck to you Branden!

  6. We will all work at Disneyland. Thats what we’ll do. Maybe we could produce some educational, science TV series. Or maybe a few Baby Einstein episodes. But in all seriousness…

    I think we are all going to do great and I am excited to see where we will all be in the next few years.

  7. kttodd says:

    This post made me smile (and not just because of the Arrested Development picture). I can definitely relate to the external image/internal feeling you mentioned, and agree it would be tough to replicate in a classroom, but is an extremely useful skill to have. The “what are you doing after graduation?” question has been coming up more and more lately, and I’ve noted that somber tone, too. While that can be a little discouraging, I really like the way you’re looking at things–we’ve all gained some amazing experience during our terms here and skills that are going to help us throughout our professional lives. That’s definitely a win. Great post, and best of luck!

  8. jackiemc90 says:

    So true, there is so much that you learn when you get out there into the “real world.” I’m sure you’ll find a great place to start and be able to tell people what you’re doing after graduation really soon.

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