8 Things (NOT) To Do When You Finish Your Master’s Degree

November 1, 2019 § 3 Comments

Martin Career Fair 2018 HeadshotBy Bonnie Martin

  1. Practice your new elevator speech to use on strangers and at family events.

They say, “Congratulations on your master’s degree! What are you going to do now?”

You say, “Uh, the same thing as before except now as a Master…”

  1. Put all of your newfound publishing world knowledge to use. Subscribe to literary journals and share your old, read copies with your little sister’s college roommate, whose undergraduate degree is in English Literature. Bonus points if you give them to her in a “Read More Poems” tote you got free at AWP last spring. Feel smug in your literariness.

  2. Intend to keep writing. Move to a new city with your job and rent a downtown studio with brick walls. Place your antique writing desk in front of window.

“Yes,” you think, touching the rough brick walls and looking wistfully out the window at the alleyway garbage can, “This is where I will write my novel.”

  1. Forget you have a Master’s degree. Run into an old high school classmate during your hometown’s Alumni Weekend celebration—

They say, “What’s new with you?!”

You say, “Oh, you know, same job and everything… you?”

  1. Forget about essays, the slush pile, Submittable, cover letters, reading, journals, magazines, books.

Think, “What’s writing anyway?”

  1. Receive an email from your old creative nonfiction writing professor asking if you will be a guest speaker in her class this coming November.

Respond, glowingly, “Of course.”

Then think, “Oh crap! I better start writing again so I have something to talk about.”

  1. Plan to start writing again.

Think, “Do you know what would be better than writing? Telling people what not to do after graduating with their master’s degree.”

I will write tomorrow, I guess.


Bonnie Martin is a Midwest writer with a Master of Arts in Critical and Creative Thinking and Graduate Certificate in Advanced Writing from The University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her work has been previously published in Orion’s The Place Where You Live column and the Brevity blog.

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