Tag Archives: tough choices

Guest Post: The Re-do: Lessons Learned and Second Chances

13 Jun

“College is the time to discover who you are.” Think back to freshmen orientation.  How many times did you, a shell-shocked yet exhilarated newbie, hear that phrase?  And yet none of us could appreciate the full truth of this sentiment until we were well on that journey to self-discovery.  This is the story of June’s journey. Sometimes the trip takes us to an expected destination, but once we get there, we can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Hello fellow liberal artists, I’m a graduate of Middlebury College with a pretentious degree in Sociology/Anthropology. It’s all scribed in Latin on my diploma (no really, it’s in Latin and I don’t understand what it’s saying). I don’t have anything clever to say to lead you into my “story/pseudo-advice-but-not-really,” so I’m not. What the hell. Something clever. You’re welcome. No, this isn’t a post about grad school. In fact, it’s a post about me going back to undergraduate school to fulfill requirements for pharmacy/medical school. In essence, I’m finding myself again and delaying my eventual entrance in the professional/”real world.”

So, let’s start from the beginning…or the middle.

During my senior year, I was in love. Like most of us naive twenty-somethings, I believed that I had it all figured out. I was going to move to some big city with my boyfriend and start a new life as a teacher (or something) and eventually go to grad school. Then, we would get married. But, he changed his mind and I was left crushed. All my hopes and dreams for the future suddenly vanished (cue Lifetime movie music). But with the help of friends, family and a counselor, I was able to pass the semester (of course this had to be the one when I took five classes) and move forward with my life.

That summer I had a lot of time to think. I realized that my previous relationship had blinded me from thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I almost sacrificed my own happiness for the sake of staying together with my ex (which is what all strong, independent, self-respecting women should try to avoid. I know, shit happens.). I didn’t want to be a teacher. I didn’t want to move to Georgia. Hell, I didn’t want to go to grad school. It was time to think about me and be honest with myself. So here’s what I discovered…

Not what she'd be translating (but she wouldn't do it anyway)

Truth #1: I don’t want to be an Arabic translator, or any other kind of translator. It’s ironic that I came to Middlebury for this very reason. So I took the classes (I even dabbled in German and Spanish) and I studied in Egypt. When I got there, I took a translating class and HATED it. The more advanced I became the more miserable I was. Don’t get me wrong. Arabic really is a beautiful and poetic language, but I would rather pierce both of my eyes out with a blunt object than translate everyday for the rest of my life. The tedious care, the pressure, and love for the language that comes with the profession didn’t captivate or excite me. Adios FBI/CIA/State Department/etc…

Truth #2: I’m mediocre when it comes to Sociology/Anthropology studies and I really don’t want to stay in this field. There’s nothing wrong with being mediocre in anything, but when it comes to passion and drive in this particular field, I find myself rather uninspired, bored (most of the time), and trapped in intellectual mazes. There was one point where I briefly considered going to grad school for forensic anthropology, but I found that that particular career wasn’t right for me because I didn’t want to become a professor, I hate bugs, and I would have been paid peanuts for the kind of work that I wanted to do.. And when you have my kind of student loans to worry about (without any trust funds or rich parents) money doesn’t just talk, it screams.

Truth #3: I absolutely love volunteering in the hospital. When you grow up with family like mine (that is, four doctors, 1 nurse and 2 engineers), it’s assumed that you’ll end up in the same kind of field. Embracing the inner rebel, I had always vowed that I would do something different, something special…well, because I was special. Right? So of course I avoided taking that route and found myself attending a liberal arts college (something they hated J). I was going to become an Arabic translator with moderate fluency in Spanish and end up working for the FBI. So much has changed since then. And now, I’m pursuing the very field that I tried to avoid throughout my entire childhood: the medical field.

Science is fun.

Truth #4: I love science, particularly biology and chemistry. Right now, I have just finished my first biology class and I LOVED it. I love studying biology so much. I would walk out of taking a test smiling. I mean, really smiling about what I learned. Like, who does that?! Right now I’m taking chemistry and I actually like doing the homework. I get excited when I think about what my next lab is going to be. And like a true science geek, I’m really looking forward to taking organic chemistry and microbiology. So, where in the hell was this girl in college? She was scared. Scared that for the first time in her life that she might fail. Because of one really bad first semester, she was scared that she had already failed. But, she grew up. Now, she’s happy and the girl that knows better.

Truth #5: No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. Middlebury taught me a huge and expensive lesson about who I am, what I really want to do with my life and to ultimately be honest with myself. It gave me the opportunity to figure all of this out. And to answer all of my “what-ifs.” I met amazing people, followed my dreams and ended up finding new ones. And for that, I’m very grateful. Go Panthers!

Truth #6: I want to work in healthcare and do nothing else (well, I also want to live in New York, go ski-diving…). I look to the future and I’m excited about what is to come. I’m not doing this to make my family happy or to become a millionaire. I want to help people, work with people, and be in a field that’s going to constantly teach me new things and challenge me. I’m still learning and I enjoy being the student. I know that the prospect of staying in school for about another 5-6 years sounds daunting to many, but I take this as a challenge and a reward. It’s a second chance to find my happy ending.

Find your dreams, and then find some more. I say, chase those rainbows like a mad leprechaun and have no regrets. You never know what you may find.

Fo rizzle,

J swizzle

Guest Post: Applying to Grad School and What to Avoid

8 Jun

Hello friends! Today we have a guest post from my pal Chelsea, a 2010 Sociology/Chinese major who was determined to get her master’s, but the road to grad school was not as easy as she thought it would be.  Below she shares her story and some helpful advice.

I, unlike the vast majority of my classmates, took the GREs, finished my thesis, took my final exams, and wrote up all my grad school applications within the space of a month and looked forward to hearing back from schools.  Flash forward a few months: I got into my top school, accepted their offer without a second thought (after all, this was one of the top programs in the country and everyone told me how I would fit in so well there), and went to go and visit.

Grad school: rude.

When I went and met my prospective department, sat in on classes, and attempted to see where I would be for the next two years, I felt unwelcome, disturbed, and generally miserable at the prospect that my secure future had suddenly ceased to be so secure.  I had a door closed in my face, had my proffered hand of greeting ignored by a professor I wanted to work with and was instead asked “why are you here?”, was unchallenged in a top level class, and was told I was either not registered as a student or already had a large sum of money owed to the school despite having not started yet.  I was miserable and completely confused.

Here’s the interesting thing: I came back to my school, my friends, professors, etc and explained my predicament.  As I flew back across the country I had pretty much mentally settled on declining their offer, but wanted to get the opinions of my professors, family, and friends first, telling each of these people that I wanted to go and get my masters because of a love of learning on my part, not because of a need to get a certificate that would get me a high paying job in the long run.  My friends, all from liberal arts schools, looked horrified and told me not to go, why waste money, time, and energy on a program that I didn’t like and wouldn’t be challenged at.  This was my future, after all, and people always say don’t settle for important aspects of life, why should I settle for my education after years of hard work?  My professors and family, on the other hand, told me in short to suck it up for two years, it is a great program and will look great when I can put that on my resume. Plus, if it was as easy as I claimed, it would be an easy two years with a great GPA to show for it.  Grad school wasn’t undergrad: I wasn’t going to have the warm and cozy campus environment where professors and students share close relationships.

I learnt two main things from this experience: I love learning for learning’s sake. I don’t agree with everyone that told me to go just for the certificate and job I will get at the end, what’s the point?  I’m not going for the paycheck I will get later on, I am going to learn.  I have worked far too hard these last sixteen years to suddenly settle.  I am doing this for me, after all, may as well enjoy myself by means of being challenged and happy if I am going to go.  The job market currently isn’t the prettiest, but there are jobs available to me if I wanted to go that route right now, I just choose not to.

Second thing I learned: I didn’t know my goals in going to grad school when I applied. I initially applied to programs that mimicked or combined my joint majors of sociology and Chinese in college and expected it to be the same.  What I realized after that trip was that my goal really was to make my Chinese as good as it possibly can be and if I wanted that, I needed to get my butt over to China and work/live there.  Applying for grants or scholarships that would allow me to combine sociology as well would be one option or just living there and doing my own research, whether it be by free lance writing for city specific magazines when I am there, commenting from a foreigner’s point of view, or just keeping my own blog, would be ways as well.  Either way, I would be practicing my Chinese like I wanted.

China: She wants to go to there.

Another part of that second lesson was that I am now reconsidering which field I want to go into. So my main goal now is to make sure my Chinese is top notch, okay, cool.  That’s not an academic goal, so want do I want to do academically?  Everyone and every company is in China currently, I have the world of choices ahead of me.  Where are my interests?  What type of field could I combine many of my interests.  The smartest, most mature choice currently may be to not go to grad school next semester and just reapply in Fall, when I have my brain screwed on straight, my interests in order, and much, much more time to research all possible fields.  I just did what I thought I had to do last year and ended up in this predicament.  Clearly, that was not the smartest move and I can see why people don’t typically apply to grad school while they are still at school.  There simply is no time to do so and you end up screwing up because your head is in so many different places.

Here’s my advice for you liberal artists: if you are going to go to grad school for the same reasons I want to go, love of learning, need to be challenged, fear of the real world, etc make sure you know what you want to do.  You don’t want to end up in graduate school like I could have ended up and realize that field isn’t the field you want to be in, ending up with a ridiculous amount of debts and a lack of resume worthy experiences because you chose the education route rather than the job route.  Look outside the box of what you did in college. Realize that graduate schools tend to name things differently from each other, so while you normally wouldn’t look under one department’s heading for potential programs, you never know what you might find.  The perfect department may be hiding under a completely random title.  Lastly, just go with your gut.  I know some people who don’t think I am making the right decision, but I know this is what is best for me.  It just took a major disappointment for me to figure out what exactly I wanted.

So what’s next for Ms. Chelsea? Who the hell knows, check back for more updates!

-Sarah

Out of state interviews: why I may never get a job

21 Mar

This plane is bigger than New Jersey

I had to pull out of two interviews in New York City yesterday.  Why?  Because I don’ have $400 to blow on a plane ticket so I could sit through 90 minutes of “How do you work under pressure?” and “Describe yourself in three words” just to receive a “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Let’s break this down even further: A) It’s money I just don’t have B) Why would I spend nonexistent money on a job that has no guarantee of hiring me?  C)  If I’m so hellbent on spending imaginary money, I could play online poker.  Or the stock market. Whatever.  D) These jobs weren’t toe-curling exciting.  If jobs were pastries, these two were more of a bran muffin, and I’m looking for a chocolate eclair.  If I’m going to travel 1200 miles, why shouldn’t I aim for the eclair from the start, rather than settle for boring bran?

Being broke blows harder than watching daytime TV, like the View (Elizabeth, no one cares about your stupid fashion line, so STFU; Sherri, you somehow think the world is flat but they let you on TV anyway; Joy…we cool).  Being broke blows harder than watching commercials that air during daytime TV, because they know that you’re unemployed and that you’re either doing one of three things 1) looking for new ways to clean your house 2) dying, so you need new prescription meds 3) looking for a cheap degree so you can get a job (No thanks, University of Phoenix, I’m all set. But I’ll call you in a couple months if this Religion degree is really as useless as the skeptical masses are telling me.)

But really, being flatout broke just flatout blows.  Because on top of this crap economy and the increased competition new graduates face, opportunities become increasingly inaccessible to you if you can’t fulfill basic requirements like an in-person interview.  The key to getting a job is to cast a wide net and see what you reel back in.  When you have money concerns, your fishing net shrinks exponentially.

So, what should a person like me do?  Should I only apply to local jobs until I can afford to interview out of state?  Should I only apply to those jobs that I would definitely take if granted an interview?  My parents said they could spring me the money for the ticket, but they couldn’t do it every single time, which is why I feel compelled to spend this “gift” on a sure thing.  These are all questions that have to be answered before I can effectively move forward in my search, proving that there are more tough choices than I thought when it comes to landing that perfect first job, though I’m starting to think that it may not exist (huzzah wisdom!).