An excited but overworked grad student's Pivot Journey

The following is a guest blog post from a recent graduate student, Hannah, about what led her to do a Pivot Journey and how it has impacted her future:

The question I have been asked constantly since starting grad school has been, “What are you going to do after you graduate?” This question gives me immediate anxiety.

My first reaction – ‘I actually already have a job!

I’ve been working to pay for school and have been exploring higher education as a career. It’s a good job. It’s not the job I want to do forever, but I’m employed!

My second reaction is always – ‘OH NO. No. I’m not going to think about this.

So, while working full-time, attempting to finish a master’s degree and maybe, just maybe, have some semblance of a life, you think I’ve thought about what I’m going to do after?

Of course I have! I just haven’t really thought about it.

Being in school and working full-time is HARD. I don’t have time to really think about the after portion of things. The problem is I need to.

I know that after some of the craziest and busiest years of my life, school will end. That little (oh so expensive) piece of paper with the three little letters after my name will come in the mail and I won’t have my sh*t figured out.

So, being the masochistic and slightly anxious person that I am, I wanted to take it on. I wanted to do this.

I went to graduate school for a reason – I wanted to work in international development. Okay, let’s start there.

A week went by – then it was midterms…
Another week – work got crazy…
Another week – I was traveling…
Something had to change.

Time goes by so fast and if I didn’t take the time to invest in myself now, it was going to lead me at a disadvantage.

I was so overwhelmed by school and work going into my final semester that I couldn’t focus on this. I was taking every day, one day at a time.

Various situations and events led me to Pivot Journeys: I had an awful week at work – one of those weeks where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. My colleagues and I were butting heads. I wasn’t able to focus and was making stupid mistakes. I didn’t want to be there anymore, and I was ready for a change.

Sadly, it was the beginning of the semester and things were only going to get worse at work. I really felt like I needed to empty my head of work and focus on my future. 

I had seen rumblings of Pivot Journeys on my Facebook. While I desperately would have loved to go on a week-long Pivot trip, I knew I couldn’t take the time off work or school to travel for a week, but the weekend, I could totally do.

I signed up.

The first morning, I jumped on the subway. Every fiber of me was saying, “you shouldn’t be doing this, you have too much other work to do.”

I took the elevator up. Breathe.

We dove into the first workshop.


This is what it feels like to focus on myself; what I want to do. I knew then that this was worth it.

Going through the exercises, I found it such a huge relief to have the coaches walking me through the steps. We dove deeper into why we are interested in our work, and really focused on our core values; what we as a human beings want in a career and organization was enlightening.

The best part of the weekend for me was being able to take the time and really think through what I wanted to do.

I had always been drawn to international development and public service. But now, I can actually articulate WHY.

Pivot Journeys helped me take the time for myself to understand my next step. The program allowed me to even think of it as a next step and not a decision that will be my forever.

I was terrified that I had just spent so much money on a degree and didn’t know what I wanted to do with it – which thankfully was entirely not true. The program helped me articulate what that is and made it tangible for me.

My career was no longer the “after” but something that I could see now.

It’s been several months since the Pivot Journeys weekend in NYC. I'm so glad I did it before I found myself at the end of the program wondering what was next. 

Now that I’ve graduated, I have many balls up in the air about my future and what steps I could take next. I’m actively exploring a lot of different opportunities and I’m excited to see what happens next.

I’m still working at my same job while I wrestle those balls into something manageable, however now I know what I’m really skilled at, what kinds of environments really motivate me, and how to talk about what I want to do next.

The Pivot Journeys weekend has built a confidence in me to be able to analyze those potential next steps and make a decision that will be a good fit.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I still wish I had a crystal ball to tell me where I’m going to end up. So if anyone does, please let me know.


At the time of publication, Hannah Atchison worked in the office of External Affairs at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She was recently promoted and is now the Assistant Director of Nonprofit Management and Policy & International Programs at NYU Wagner. She's a dynamite collaborator, developer and relationship-builder. 


Need to step back and reflect on where you're going in your career? Check out Pivot Journeys upcoming local and international trips for awesome adventures that will also help you take the next step in your career!