“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”
Lewis Carroll, “The Walrus and the Carpenter”
As a rising senior, I do feel like it is indeed time to talk of many things, mainly what I’m going to do after graduation. In the context of “The Walrus and the Carpenter”, the Walrus delivers this line to a group of oysters he has lured away from their oyster bed so he can eat them. It works here because for many people my age, facing graduation can feel like you have worked hard through college and followed that Walrus but you have finally gotten to the point where reality hits and he tells you that he is going to end your life as you know it by sending you out into the real world to be devoured. Okay, so maybe the real world isn’t filled with talking animals, winged pigs, or a boiling sea, and it may look nothing like Alice in Wonderland, but to a college graduate-to-be, it can be a very scary prospect.
Fortunately, we here at W&M are well equipped to deal with the real world when the Walrus says it’s time. Thanks to the Career Center, W&M graduates are not a bunch of clueless oysters, but a force in the workforce. Job placement for W&M grads actually went up through the recession, reversing a national trend. And as the summer draws to a close and summer internships reach their conclusion, I’ve already heard of several classmates with job offers in hand.
Personally, I’ve had the great fortune of having 7 different internships during my time at the College in Williamsburg, Washington, and back home in Michigan. They’ve really run the gamut from a law office to a mortgage bank to two different think tanks and more. I am a firm believer in the internship system and getting practical work experience in a variety of fields to narrow down what potential careers you may be interested in, and I’ve been lucky to have had several different work experiences.
Fortunately, the Career Center maintains close connections with Alumni employers and employees alike and has the resources to help you find potential internships or jobs, and prepare you as a candidate. During the school year there is a constant flurry of career fairs, networking opportunities, interviews, resume-building workshops, et cetera. The Career Center as a counseling resource is also great; they have individual counselors for different majors, and will gladly work with you during their generous walk in hours. Take a look at their website to get a feel for the tremendous work they do on campus.
A side note; even though I’m fairly confident in my own prospects post-graduation, I do dread the question “what are you going to do with the rest of your life”. It’s not that I don’t have an answer, it’s that it bothers me. Why is it appropriate to ask this to 20 or 21 or 22 year olds, but seemingly no other age group? I often wish I could turn around and ask the other person what they intend to do with the rest of their lives, no matter how old or young they are. Does anybody ever have a good answer?
Well anyways, I do, as promised, have an answer to that question, but it is a long one. With my international relations major, my eventual goal is the Foreign Service. I would like to be able to live abroad, like I did last semester, and still serve my country, hopefully by helping American businesses flourish in an international setting. Foreign Service applicants usually have graduate degrees, work experience, or both, and I’m not quite there yet as a candidate, so in the mean time I’ll look for a job in the fall.
I really am fortunate because the job hunt isn’t as scary for me. To start, I’m going to contact the people I met in those 7 internships first and see if there are any opportunities that they know of for a fresh college graduate. Beyond that, I’m specifically looking into jobs with federal consulting, perhaps through a larger company like Deloitte or PricewaterhouseCoopers, companies that W&M keeps a special connection with. I’m sure it will be competitive, but fortunately my W&M degree (and W&M connections) and the resume I’ve developed (available upon request!) will hopefully ensure I am not unemployed come next summer. Hopefully I will find something I love and stick with it, as I already have a good sense of what I want out of a job through the internships I have had.
Of course, if I want to go a completely different route, I could take immediate advantage of that accounting minor I took, and stay an extra year at W&M to get my Masters of Accounting. That’s an option, and I’ll explore that more in the fall. At one point in my life, I wanted to go to law school, or perhaps get a Masters in Diplomacy, but I think for now, it’s smarter to wait and get some real work experience (and a steady income) before thinking about any graduate school.
Either way, I can start to hear the Walrus saying that the time has come. Fortunately, I know I’m not an oyster and I’m prepared for what comes next.