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Making the First Move

By Kristen Cole

Ambitious and resourceful, some Smith seniors already have their postgraduation plans in place well before they graduate. According to Jane Sommer, interim director of career development, the class of 2005 is entering an improved job market, and employers appear to be hiring candidates who demonstrate the range of abilities honed at liberal arts institutions like Smith. Overall, about 70 percent of Smith alumnae go straight to work after graduation, 20 percent to graduate or professional schools, and the remainder are undecided. Here are three women who have made very different choices.

Wall Street

Xiaohong Sang distributed her résumé during a student trip to Wall Street in October and by mid-November had received and accepted a job offer from Lehman Brothers Investment Banking. “It definitely took off the pressure second semester,” says Sang, 22. By the beginning of July, Sang will be in a building near Times Square and a long way from her freshman career aspiration in government. The math and economics double-major expects to clock some long hours as a mergers and acquisitions analyst. But that is a familiar schedule. Sang’s roommates in the city will be keeping similar hours. She plans to share an apartment with a classmate. “Last semester struggling with academics and recruiting, my friends really helped me,” notes Sang, who is from China and attended high school in Canada. “I definitely want to share an apartment with Smithies.”

Graduate School

Before she embarks on a master’s in engineering in the fall, Krystal Locke, 39, will relax at home in Oregon. Classes and a strict exercise routine amounted to 18-hour days during her last semester at Smith. The Ada Comstock scholar was challenged to get fit for a July flight at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, during which she will conduct an engineering experiment with classmates. The zero-gravity flight fulfills a dream that seemed unattainable while growing up in Texas. “I get to pretend to be an astronaut -- it feels like I’ve returned to my dreams,” says Locke, adding “it doesn’t matter how old I am when I get there.” That sentiment could also apply to her Smith education. With plans to secure a doctorate, Locke will likely begin a career in her 40s. Once in a while she worries about the future of the Social Security system, but she is usually too busy to do so. “Going back to school has gone a long way to keeping me young,” Locke comments.

Teaching

When Kristen Kaelin inquired about a job teaching at the American School in Milan, she was told that it was too late to apply. The application process had ended and the review was under way, an administrator said. But when Kaelin, 22, mentioned that she was a Smith student, the message changed. “I stood out. Smith is known for producing good teachers,” says Kaelin. Within two weeks, she received an offer to teach at the elementary school-level in Italy. An education and child study student, Kaelin always knew she wanted to be a teacher. As a youngster growing up in Montclair, NJ, she set up “school” in her closet and “taught” her younger sister. Teaching runs in the family. Kaelin’s father is a college faculty member and her mother, a nursing instructor. Teaching is difficult,” Kaelin adds, “but how challenging it is makes it that much more rewarding.”

 
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