Advice from the Real World

Advice from the Real World

Recent graduates send back nuggets of post-Colby wisdom

| Photos by A.J. Garces

Illustration by A.J. Garces
Genius may count in school, but in the real world, the ingredients for success are hard work, perseverance, and integrity. Of course, genius never hurts, but the working world requires discipline and stamina.
Yvonne Siu ’03
Center for Global Development
Washington, D.C.

Get used to a time schedule. Work is not so liberal as the college schedule.
Greg Lynch ’04
Assistant director of residential life Colby College

I recommend that people take grad-school admissions tests while they’re still at Colby. Studying while you are still in the habit of being a student, I think, is extremely beneficial to your scores. Additionally, most scores are good for 3-4 years.
Justin Hedge ’03
Law student Catholic University
Washington, D.C.

First, as much as I loved Colby, I had no idea how great and unique it was when I was there. In the real world, I think you realize that your grades are not as important as how well you can think and analyze, and that a lot of jobs don’t even care about your transcripts but whether or not you completed interesting course work, did a thesis, or had a great relationship with a professor.
Catherine Benson ’02
Graduate student
Yale University
New Haven, Conn.

Every grad should know that, unless you’re going on to grad school, the first year out of college is one of the toughest you’ll face. Someone told me at my graduation party that it’s the hardest of your life. I’m not sure it made it easier, but when things were challenging, at least I knew it was normal. Why is it so hard? It’s something to do with having no structure and having infinite choice when you’ve spent the previous 18 years in an academic structure with many fewer choices.
Kimberly Schneider ’01
Master’s degree candidate, Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.

Involve yourself in as many different internships as you can. Make and sustain relationships while at your internships because these relationships can help you get a job after graduation.
Megan Williams '04
Executive director, Hardy Girls Healthy Women
Waterville, Maine

No one really ever impressed upon me the importance of an internship; I really thought it was optional, and that after graduating I would simply get an "entry-level" job. Apparently, however, entry-level positions no longer exist, and even administrative positions require 1-2 years of experience. I am looking in the international relations field, specifically international conflict resolution, and have probably applied to about 25-30 jobs, all with tailored resumes and cover letters, only received a call for an interview from one, and at that interview was told my background seemed "too intellectual." How a person can be too intellectual to work at a think tank, I will never know. . . . I will probably wind up fulfilling a cliche and continuing on to graduate school, although, ironically, most graduate schools also require work experience.
Liz Brown '05
Woodbury, N.Y.

Internships are extremely important for any publishing field. I am the internship coordinator for our department and, even when looking for interns, prior experience helps enormously. . . . I also think an impeccable resume is extremely important, sometimes more so than a cover letter. Cover letters show your personality and interests, but a resume represents your professional life. And I don't just mean what's written on the resume. I also mean typos, structure--it should be very easy to read through.
Danielle O'Steen '03
Assistant editor Art & Auction magazine
New York, N.Y.
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  • On May 25, 2006, Dave Zohn wrote:
    There is no doubt that the first year after college is an extremely difficult transitional period. It was hard for me to envision a world outside of Colby until I was no longer there, and even then, it took months for me to come to terms with the fact that it was over. I highly recommend spending some time gathering yourself and your thoughts before you embark upon a career path or graduate school. Travel or just hang out for a few months, but spend some time thinking about what you would like to be doing in a year. Also, keep in mind that every time you find something you don‰t like to do, you‰re one step closer to finding what you do like to do. Life after college may not be the totally consequence free fun you remember from Colby, but it can be pretty awesome and rewarding. At least you still get weekends.

  • On June 24, 2006, Peter Hans wrote:
    Constantly keep your next move in the forefront of your mind. If you are unsatisifed with your current employment situation, formulate a plan to get to the job you want and then follow that plan (this will probably take a few years). Don't beat yourself down about this time period as you'll be a lot happier when you're in your mid and late 20's and have the career you want than if you settled for mediocrity.

  • On June 26, 2006, Jackie Dao wrote:
    The daunting question every recent graduate anticipates after leaving the hill: "So what are your plans now?Š We have experienced this moment at one time or another. I, for one, was extremely nervous because I had no career offers after graduation, just the distinctive urge to volunteer and gain work experience; perhaps abroad. I knew I needed to take a step and relocate. Taking my time to find a job I can truly appreciate and enjoy. Through this process, I realized that I am very young, and didn‰t need to rush to find the ,perfectŠ job. It takes experience, from the bottom up, to truly appreciate the choices you face and where they will eventually lead you. My first job was serving at a restaurant for 8 months until I found my current position on Capitol Hill. I wouldn‰t trade that experience for anything in the world. Unexpected moments truly help you define who you are and expand to who you could become. Even after a full year since graduation, I still have that urge to travel abroad and volunteer, but I know when the time comes, it will eventually happen. It is never too late.