[Having graduated from University College, Oxford last year, Charlie Baker is now studying a one year course on human rights at LSE. Here are some of her challenging thoughts on choosing what to do after university]
Two years ago I had a plan. I would finish my degree, hopefully with a decent result, and then try and go into corporate law or something similar. Then things changed. In my second year at Oxford I became a Christian and all of the assumptions and plans I’d made about my future had to be reconsidered. I realised that the sort of job I thought I would end up in wasn’t what I wanted to or should be doing. Although finding faith has been indescribable and incredible it has also, at times, been frustrating because it means re-examining some pretty important questions that I’d already thought I’d answered.
In my third year, after a lot of thought and a few suggestions from friends, I decided to look into further study. I hadn’t really considered it before, thinking I wasn’t really clever enough but I felt that God was pointing me in that direction and that ultimately the failure I was so afraid of was insignificant because I am loved unconditionally. I’d always loved volunteering and charity work and my new awareness of social justice issues inspired by Just Love led me to look into Human Rights. I’m currently studying for a one year masters at LSE and its been so rewarding. It has been really challenging at times though and it can be hard to see where God is in all of the suffering I read about. It’s so inspiring though, and learning about the horrendous rights abuses in the world makes it difficult to consider not basing my career around trying to make a difference.
The charitable sector doesn’t have a lot of well-paid, stable graduate schemes and there is a lot of pressure to work for free, which can be tough in terms of living costs but also because society too often looks at success in terms of salary. Ultimately, though, the important thing is to listen to what God is calling you to do, however hard that can be at times, whether that’s towards a corporate job or a career trying to tackle injustice or something completely different.
So my main piece of advice is to embrace uncertainty, however scary that concept may seem. Up until my last year at Oxford I always knew what the next step would be – I’d do my GCSEs, them my A-levels, and then go to university. Life after graduation was my first real opportunity to choose a path and the first major choice I had to make since becoming a Christian. God had to be central in my decision and prayer and reflection was so important. But embracing uncertainty is not an excuse to be passive and wait for something just to come along. We need to be proactive both in terms of prayer and listening to God as well as in looking for opportunities for the future. I’m still not sure exactly what I will be doing next year, let alone the years after that but I’m searching for new opportunities, praying and trying to listen to God and trusting that his plan for me is infinitely better than anything I would decide without him.
Jeremiah 29:11 ‘”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”’