Jennifer Gabrielle ’06
This is the
second in a series of essays by Gabrielle, an intern writer
in the Office of College Relations, on being a Smith senior
to be Iron Woman.”
answer I give people when they ask me, almost daily now, The
Question – What are you going to do after you graduate?
usually provides a window of opportunity to at least change
the subject, especially if people actually wish to discuss
my triathlon training strategies.
But in reality,
I do not plan to be Iron Woman. I do not plan to go to graduate
school. I plan to get a job.
As a direct result
of that decision, I have set up camp in the Career Development
Office. In addition to the hours I’ve spent researching
careers and alumnae networking opportunities, I’ve eaten
lunch there on several occasions and even written an essay
for class while I waited for a drop-in appointment. I’ve
become as regular a feature as the coffee pot in the waiting
area, only not nearly as useful. I would gladly accept a 50-cent
donation, though. At the rate my job search is going, come
graduation I may need all the pennies I can get.
My first senior-year
visit to the CDO was last October, back when I was still ahead
of the game. I was told the fall semester was a time for narrowing
down your search. January and February were for sending out
inquiries and conducting informational interviews in your
field. There was no need to apply for anything until March
or April unless you came across a specific deadline.
In October, it
sounded like a breeze. I had plenty of time.
I was clearly
delusional. Without warning, Interterm hit. By then I had
managed to narrow my job search to a single city, which enabled
me to focus my energy on only a few thousand job opportunities
instead of searching haphazardly across several continents.
However, it was difficult to find job postings online, since
I was so specific about what I wanted to do and where I wanted
to do it. Where was my dream job and why couldn’t I
find it? I tried asking Jeeves, but all he did was shrug.
How hard could
it be for me to find a job as a writer? At this point, Iron
Woman seemed like a more realistic goal.
As of February,
I kept my coffee pot of future employment on the back burner,
thinking there was still time. Then news began rippling through
the class of 2006: students all around me were receiving grad
school acceptance letters, finding employment opportunities
and scheduling real live job interviews.
“How did this happen? How did I get so far behind?”
asked we plan-less ones. We found camaraderie in our panic,
and bonded over the ambiguous future in gales of laughter
-- nervous, frightened gales, that is. “They’re
just crazy overachievers,” we said to comfort ourselves.
But we’d have gladly been crazy, too, if it meant an
end to the uncertainty that ate away at us every day like
coffee on an empty stomach.
I returned to
the CDO in March to fill up on something more substantial.
I came away with research tips, names of alumnae to contact,
a plan of action and, most importantly, a promise for help
whenever I needed it.
One of the scariest
things about graduating is leaving behind such a tight community
of friends, professors and supervisors, all in one tidy, on-campus
package. It’s comforting to have someone to guide you
through the process and answer your questions so you’re
not forced to prepare for this big departure alone.
These days at
the CDO I pour out burning questions about resumes and cover
letters. The advisers’ answers leave me feeling as if
I’ve accomplished something, as if I am one step closer
to the future me.
I wonder: What
will she look like, this new me? Where next will she call
When I finally
do leave my regular spot at the CDO in May, they’ll
have to make do with the lone coffee pot in the corner and
without my donations. And despite the lack of 50-cent donations
made to me, I’m confident I’ll be ready to leave
when the time comes. In my new life beyond Smith, I’ll
have a whole new pot of coffee to brew.
I might even give
Iron Woman a shot after all.