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
Take down those incriminating Friendster (or others like it) photos and quotes. Or better yet, don't put them up in the first place. Employers and admissions committees Google now. Heaven forbid you should ever want to apply for some sort of security clearance. . . . Craigslist is a gold mine for slightly or heavily used furniture, as well as slightly musty basement apartments or lofts. You'll need these things, and you'll need them cheaply. . . . Work part time in grad school. It keeps you busy, expands your circle of acquaintances for networking (or perhaps friends for socializing), and helps to pay the bills, lowering your debt load later.
Mason Smith '04
Information systems intern/International Franchise Association
Graduate student in computer science George Washington University
Washington, D.C.

When Career Services says that your alumni network and alumni directory are the most powerful engine to do a SUCCESSFUL job search, believe them. They're RIGHT. After four months of a very unsuccessful job search in the San Diego area, I finally found a job through one of the handful of Colby alumni who live in this area. It is really hard to just send a resume and a cover letter and actually land a job without any personal connection.
Ivan Mihajlov '05
Staff research associate, University of California at San Diego Immunology Lab-School of Medicine

The harder you work, the luckier you get. Everyone should be aware of this rule of life and put it to the test for themselves to see what opportunities open up for them.
Matthew Koontz '02
Assistant account manager Arnold Worldwide [Advertising] Agency
Boston, Mass.

Most important piece of information: it doesn't matter what your major is, just make sure they know you went
to Colby.
Michael Kershaw '05
Sales assistant
Guardian Investor Services LLC
Brockton, Mass.
Enjoy it all while you can, take as many classes that interest you as possible, and go abroad as often as you can. Colby gives that opportunity and it should be taken advantage of!
Angelika Makkas '01
Administrative assistant MIT/Sloan International Programs
Cambridge, Mass.

Now that I'm working 50-60 hour weeks, I appreciate so much the lifestyle and schedule that the Hill allows you to have. You have much to do, sure, but you have a great deal of freedom in how and when you do it. I wished someone had let me know to soak up and appreciate the kind of life one can lead at Colby.
Nat Chamberlin '03
Director of annual giving
Noble and Greenough School, Dedham, Mass.

I always said that I would NEVER have a job that required me to work crazy hours. Once I found a job that I loved, though, I realized that when you like what you're doing you don't notice the hours. A good employer can trick you into thinking that working full-time plus nights and weekends is fun! I also learned that enjoying the company of your colleagues goes a long way.
Annie Hall '03
Assistant director of admissions, Babson College
Somerville, Mass.
I really wish I had known what sadness I would face upon leaving college life. What withdrawal! There is no other time in your life when you will be surrounded by friends, eating whatever food you want without having to prepare it yourself, and going to parties It really was a letdown when I realized life would never be same. I would suggest students brace themselves.
Katie Lazdowski '02
French teacher
Boston Collegiate Charter School, Dorchester, Mass.

There are important non-academic skills to develop in college, like time management, interpersonal communication, and how to live a happy life. You may not have been taught these skills growing up, and they probably won't be on any test, so be aware of them and find ways to develop them whether it's talking to friends, spending time with a therapist, or challenging yourself to think beyond your classes.
Seth Eckstein '01
Former Mandarin teacher
Academy of the Pacific Rim
Roslindale, Mass.

I've been ignoring the concept of the "real world,— ignoring the concept of a "real job,— and, as I hoped, it's been rad. I don't have any real advice. I just know there may possibly be a more fulfilling way to go through life than following a set career path. Your own experiences will inform you better than any advice.—
Chatham Baker '02
Owner/operator WIZE design and head coach Sun Valley Snowboard Team
Sun Valley, Idaho

If you really love something that you study at Colby, keep loving it after you leave. Nobody is going to make your Colby education relevant to what you do when you leave school but you. Also, take advantage of the free stuff. Okay, so obviously most parents of Colby students, past or present, may take issue with my use of the word free here, but I'm going to go ahead and use it anyway. Never again in your life will you have free access to a gym, ice rink, library, greenhouse, food, experts in many fields, entertainment, or Internet. When you leave school you pay for everything.
Chris Hale '02
Project coordinator, The Carter Center
Atlanta, Ga.

I took American Dreams [American Studies 378] my senior year and fell in love with documenting real people with real emotions. After spending 2 1/2 years producing and photographing the news at WABI in Bangor, Maine, I moved on to "The Real World,— where I am a camera operator for Bunim/Murray Productions. My job has taken me all around the world, through several treacherous hurricanes and brown-recluse spider bites—and I wouldn't trade any of it for anything. So yes, undergrad students, don't be afraid to take a chance on something you might enjoy, it could turn out to be an amazing career.
Daniel Martin '01
Key West, Fla.

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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.