Five years ago, if you would have told me that going to college wasn’t necessary to get a job, I would have looked you in the eyes and told you that you didn’t know what you were talking about and I would have continued to reveal to you my ten-year plan, probably involving the GRE, some internships, and plans to kiss ass for the last four or so years.
The reality is — I just graduated from college and I still feel underwhelmingly unaccomplished. Years and years of hard work for a degree, and for what? Or, as many like to refer to it: a piece of a paper with your name and a couple of letters after it that will give you an immediate raise of about thirty thousand dollars a year if you find a full-time job that caters to what you’ve studied in.
What if you’re like me and you’re just intrigued by everything and nothing can really satisfy your knowledge-hungry brain? What if, the reason you picked your degree was that you were naturally good at it? What if you didn’t realize it, but you were brainwashed as a child that a four-year university was the only way to leave suburban mediocrity? I’ve been there. No one gave me the option to go to trade school. Coming from a lower middle-class family of Vietnamese immigrants, they didn’t know any better than to reassure success to the family than to send their only daughter to a university.
That being said, I would not have changed anything about going to my alma mater: Maryville University. I’ve met so many great people who’ve inspired me to challenge myself every day. I also met my soulmate there and he is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. However, under different circumstances, I would have been able to avoid the thousands of dollars in student loans and would have most likely instated myself into the coffee industry a lot sooner than later.
I recently got hired onto a crew of eclectic baristas at Thou Mayest in the Crossroads in Kansas City. Never have I ever felt the amount of satisfaction I do chatting up with locals, getting to know people for who they are before their coffee, and knowing that the drinks we serve help fuel their day. There is something fulfilling knowing that you are doing something active in the community while adding to your own life in skillsets.
Being a barista is not for everybody. It takes patience, mostly steady hands, and skilled palette. Watching my coworkers and I work together is slightly reminiscent to the several biology classes I’ve taken reviewing various jobs of every organelle. A smaller work environment and close quarters leave no room for drama or pettiness. The values at work aren’t just to please the customer, but to also encourage us baristas to always strive to learn within the coffee industry and outside of it.
I would pick this job over anything else, a hundred times over and over. I do intend to stay in the coffee industry while keeping my skills in data science as close to me as I can.
I’m not discouraging pursuing higher education by any means, but it is something to consider. What makes you happy? What will give your life meaning?
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