The Observer Editorial
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 21:01
The question comes with a sudden feeling of anxiety and desperation, a sense of nausea in the pits of our stomachs. But we’ve settled into spring semester, and we can’t seem to avoid it:
“Do you know what you’re doing this summer yet?”
Or even worse: “Do you know what you’re doing after graduation?”
On Tuesday, we abandoned traditional sweats and denim for suit coats and pencil skirts, ties and button-down blouses. We dodged our friends who are happily employed come May and set out for the college student’s hunting ground — the Career Fair. The student body is job-searching with near-desperation now as the year rounds into its final turn, and we try not to visibly sweat through our perfectly ironed clothes as we chat up recruiters with a hunger for something, anything.
By today, most of those recruiters from Tuesday’s Career Fair have headed home, briefcases heavier with the weight of stacks of résumés. But the panic remains for those who have not yet settled on their summer plans or post-grad employment. To those still in freak-out mode, we have one piece of advice: Breathe.
We’re all here because we eventually have to leave for somewhere else. We’ll need to find those internships, service opportunities and jobs — and we need to put in hard work to find them. But we also need to stop stepping on our own toes as we search for the perfect job or the cookie-cutter internship to pad our resumés.
When the semester ends, we will step off this campus in May with the advantages of our Notre Dame education, an education that prompts us to view the world holistically and with a distinct sense of self. But when we leave our classrooms and take that next step, we are not done learning. We choose a major based on what we want to study, but also what we think we want to do with our lives. But as we continue to study and work, we continue to learn about ourselves. Our internships and jobs are an education in themselves.
Alumnus Thom Browne earned a degree in accountancy in 1988, and he is now a successful fashion designer, recently acclaimed as the designer of Michelle Obama’s checkered coat from Inauguration Day. Irish football coach Brian Kelly majored in political science at Assumption College and worked for a Massachusetts state senator before he began to coach football. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice studied piano at the beginning of her undergraduate career, but ended up pursuing a graduate degree in government and international studies from Notre Dame.
Higher education has empowered these graduates. They trusted the lessons they learned here and elsewhere to guide them as they traveled away from campus, and as they charted their own courses, they continued to learn.
As we prepare to join their alumni ranks, we’re looking for our first internships and our first jobs that will eventually contribute to our careers. And when we job search, we have the chance to try something new and unexpected, to take that next step and walk off the beaten path. We have the chance to move somewhere that’s not Chicago. We have the chance to challenge ourselves and to change our minds.
We have the chance to find our own brand of success, whether it is in medicine or business, service work or government. No matter where we go, we can and will continue to learn along the way.
So we can brush up our résumés and polish our business shoes. But we can also remember, in the middle of it all, to just breathe.