Now Reading:

Brave new world: 8 fresh grads face life after college

The Class of 2024 steps into a world profoundly changed. They started their college careers amid lockdowns at the height of the pandemic. And for their first two years, these students attended classes online from the isolation of their rooms—no walks across university lawns, org activities, or after-school hangouts with friends. 

Once the lockdowns eased up, they trickled into college campuses across the country. Yet, campus life is a shadow of what it once was. 

As if that weren’t enough, fresh graduates today face once-in-a-generation challenges: a volatile job market, the debate surrounding remote work, and the rise of artificial intelligence. You might think they’d be predisposed to pessimism and fatalism. Reality says otherwise. These worldly-wise young people temper passion with pragmatism. 

Read more:Yolo’ for thought: 5 lessons for every struggling soul

They view uncertainty as a chance for self-discovery and exploration with their eyes trained on their goals. Here, we sit down with eight members from the Class of 2024 to chat about their anxieties and joys—from sustainability to chemistry and even motorsport.

Rurik Serzo

Rurik Serzo

Photo courtesy of Rurik Serzo

Rurik earned a degree in computer science from Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU). The senior recounts the adjustment from in-person high school classes to remote college learning.

“High school didn’t have an end. There was no graduation,” he says. The absence of this rite of passage blended one part of his life into another. Time flowed differently with no clear way to end one season and welcome the next.

“2020 feels so far away,” he reflects. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of new technologies. Work today looks completely different from what it did in 2019. Companies aren’t limited to hiring from a specific geographic location. The proliferation of apps also meant it was easier to start businesses.

Rurik acknowledges both sides to this situation: It’s becoming more difficult to pick one path with the options in front of him. Though, rather than experiencing paralysis in the face of uncertainty, the abundance of opportunities thrills him. 

Currently, Rurik is on the job hunt. The ADMU senior previously interned as a business associate at a tech company. He’s now looking for a role that lets him work directly with people and allows him to apply theory to practice. Like many graduates before him, Rurik sees his first full-time job as the next step in learning about himself and the world around him.

Roi Vincent Morin

Roi Vincent Morin

Photo courtesy of Roi Vincent Morin

Fresh from a foreign affairs course at Silliman University, Roi anticipates a career in foreign service. Last year, the Dumaguete-based student interned at the Department of Foreign Affairs’s Office of the United Nations and International Organizations (UNIO). One project of note was helping draft the 2024-2028 UN Sustainability Cooperation Framework.

With an eye toward the future, Roi speaks of the importance of collective action: “Even if it’s just a micro-effort, it will have macro-effects if individuals work to achieve the sustainable development goals.” 

Roi’s looking to work for a nonprofit focused on sustainability for two years while studying for the foreign service officer exam. His future focused on public service is bright but like many fresh grads, Roi still experiences nerves. 

“The real world isn’t a race. It’s about being at the right place, at the right time.”

“If I could quote Taylor Swift, ‘We are on our own now,’” he says. The Swiftie understands the uncertainties of life outside the classroom’s four walls. Skyrocketing inflation and limited opportunities in some sectors have forced Filipinos to disregard their dreams and look for jobs outside the country. Roi remains optimistic about being on his own though: “The real world isn’t a race. It’s about being at the right place, at the right time.”

Read more: An arctic expedition to Longyearbyen, the northernmost human settlement on earth that over 200 Filipinos call home

Althea Mara Balota Tomas

Althea Mara Balota Tomas

Photo by Cailyn Mae Ong

For Althea, chemistry is her life. “I started studying basic chemistry when I was 13 or 14.” She fell in love with the subject during her first year at the Philippine Science High School, colloquially known as Pisay, and pursued a chemistry degree at the University of the Philippines Diliman. 

During college, she worked in a lab for almost two years, with her thesis focused on synthesizing anticancer drugs by modifying neurotoxic natural products to be effective against cancer cells, but safe for use. 

While most fresh grads generally enter the job market immediately, Althea has different plans. The Diliman senior was accepted as a scholar into the Erasmus Program, a prestigious program that lets students pursue master’s degrees in universities across Europe. Althea is set to kick off her studies in France. The catch? She’ll study neuroscience instead of chemistry. 

Althea however welcomes this shift. “A lot of people come to college to find a field. The appeal of college to me was straightening up my priorities, like the people I want to keep and my values.” 

“A lot of people come to college to find a field. The appeal of college to me was straightening up my priorities, like the people I want to keep and my values.”

She’s looking forward to learning more about herself in Europe and catching up on the campus life she and her friends didn’t experience because of the pandemic.

Julian Neri

Julian Neri

Photo courtesy of Julian Neri

Julian studied business management at De La Salle University. Though soft-spoken, Julian’s face lights up when he talks about motorsport. He used to join racing competitions before going on hiatus this year to work on his thesis, which focuses on Gen Z employee retention rates. He’s still very much in the scene though. “Racing is all I think about.” 

When asked about building a career in racing, he says, “I really just want to enjoy it as a hobby.” This is something college grads today often face: the decision of whether to turn their hobbies into full-time careers or to keep their hobbies as hobbies. But Julian understands the importance of developing business and management skills to support and supplement his passion. A pragmatic approach might be the key to keeping a passion going.

In the meantime, Julian’s busy with his thesis and setting up his business of fixing and modifying cars. He’s also helping his younger cousin get into racing competitions. Will he ever get back into competitions? Well, that’s the plan for 2025 so far.

Bianca Aguilar

Bianca Aguilar

Photo courtesy of Bianca Aguilar

Bianca always thinks about the future.

The Ateneo De Manila University student is graduating with a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies, track in information design and computer science. Her thesis explores how Filipinos see themselves in the future with technology and, consequently, how these visions reveal who Filipinos are. 

She’s also an active member of the startup community both in the Philippines and abroad. She writes for the online tech publication Reboot and earned a fellowship from Interact. Informed by her experiences in the tech scene, she says she’s not as worried about the robots taking over. “AI will elevate human taste. We’d crave high-quality, human-made things.”

What’s next for Bianca? She’s currently looking for roles as a product designer at startups and tech companies, adding that she’s thrilled to jump into the world of work but acknowledges the flipside of freedom.

“Freedom can be scary because people relish in one path… They go through a crisis when that path is finished.”

“Freedom can be scary because people relish in one path… They go through a crisis when that path is finished.” But, she’s focused on learning as much as she can about different industries, people, and cultures. “I don’t want my world to be that small for my whole life.” 

John Kenneth Galicia

John Kenneth Galicia

Photo courtesy of John Kenneth Galicia

John Kenneth earned a B.A. in political science from Romblon State University. An active member of his community, he’s part of Hope In A Box, Romblon’s municipal volleyball team, and Samahang Visaya (a CSO-accredited fraternity). 

Though the senior initially wanted to pursue marine and navigation studies, he decided to focus on his baking business after graduation. After all, he’s been baking since he was in grade school. 

He bakes several pastries for family and friends, with specialties like moist chocolate, vanilla, and mocha cakes. These are often decorated with swirls of icing that resemble flowers and leaves. He dreams of opening up multiple food and beverage businesses in Romblon. “Gusto ko magkaroon—especially dito sa municipality—food na mura pero may quality.” 

Though he’s looking forward to entrepreneurship, he understands the realities ahead. Being an entrepreneur offers one more freedom and fulfillment. Entrepreneurs also take on more risk and work more hours. “Kailangan ka mag-effort kapag negosyante ka. Depende sa effort ’yung income.” For now, he will take it one step—or, more accurately, one cake at a time. 

Angelene A. Esteves

Angelene A. Esteves

Photo courtesy of Angelene A. Esteves

Angelene studied secondary education, specializing in mathematics at the Zamboanga Peninsula Polytechnic State University. A Commission on Higher Education scholar, she taught grade seven students math for a practicum. 

Growing up, math wasn’t Angelene’s favorite subject. She often had a hard time with equations and problem sets. During the pandemic, she faced some challenges with remote learning. “My pandemic experience may be hard, but it taught me a lesson. I learned to create a study routine that works for me and makes the material more manageable.” 

As students in the Philippines transitioned to on-campus learning, Angelene strived to work outside her comfort zone. She credits her professors for giving her the chance to host a school event. “I knew there was someone in the crowd who believed in me. That was my professor. I don’t want to disappoint those people who believed in me.” 

Now, Angelene looks forward to making a difference in the lives of her future students. She teaches with empathy and aims to make math engaging and understandable, especially for students who find the subject challenging.

Joshua Bumanlag

Joshua Bumanlag graduate

Photo courtesy of Joshua Bumanlag

Joshua seems to do it all.

The senior from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila juggles his studies as a computer science major with internships, school clubs, hackathons, and a bustling social life. Currently, he leads his college’s Google Developers Student Club and is one of eight Notion Campus Leaders in the country. He’s also gearing up as one of the organizers of this year’s GitHub Field Day PH, a conference for student developers. How does Joshua manage all of this?

“Instead of work-life balance, I strive for work-life harmony,” says Joshua, citing the practice he learned from an internship at a tech consulting agency. Work-life harmony simply means designing your life so your professional and personal lives complement each other. 

He does this by listening to his body and energy levels while still getting his tasks done within the deadline. Yet Joshua can’t help but wonder about his post-graduation schedule once he starts his first full-time job as a software engineer in a few months. 

College life, after all, provides a structured environment for experimentation and exploration. Yet, post-grad life is rife with the unexpected. You need to take on problems as they come. Joshua often video calls his dad, who works in Thailand, for advice. “My dad told told me, ‘di mo malalaman kung di mo sisimulan.” (You won’t know if you don’t try.) 

Instead of searching for a spot in the shade, it’s time for these graduates to create the world they wish to see.

His father’s timeless words ring louder in these unfamiliar times. You won’t know if you don’t try. These graduates see college as a space for guided exploration and the real world as both an unmapped territory and a frightening arena. Discovering your place in the world after college is their main preoccupation.

Perhaps, the key to post-college life is not discovery but creation. Instead of searching for a spot in the shade, it’s time for these graduates to create the world they wish to see. And, we may be all the better for it. 


Written by

Input your search keywords and press Enter.