Written by: Kristy Maier ’15
For years growing up, I fantasized about being an Olympic equestrian, galloping through fields and over water jumps for a living. Want proof? Here’s an excerpt from my Fifth Grade “Girl Zone” Workbook:
However, as happens with most kids, by the time I was 12, this career goal morphed into a passion to be a rocket scientist. I decided a respectable job was what I needed. Something high paying, and to which people would say, “Wow. You do that?” I wrote my first persuasive essay on how Pluto deserved the planet status it had been robbed of. I watched every PBS episode on Astronomy I could find. I even stalked NASA’s website, researching current job openings, degree requirements, and the housing market where these jobs were available.
In eighth grade, my English teacher recommended I major in literature; I told her no thanks, I’d rather be a scientist. But as fate would have it, I’m currently a Written Arts major, about to enter my senior year. I love what I’m studying and the stories I’m working on, but I am still not sure what I will do for a long-term job. Due to my vast interests and uncertainty, I had been a frequent visitor of the Career Development Office before I ended up working there.
On a typical day working in the CDO, I write emails and respond to students trying to set up appointments or employers who hope to advertise their internships to Bard. I also research career-related opportunities to update our Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as the Nationwide Internship Consortium. Some days are busy with walk-in students, phone calls, and a stream of emails overlapping with each other. Other days are very quiet. Most walk-ins want to talk about their resume or summer internships. Some students who come into the CDO have a specific question in mind about a program I’ve never heard of. And, of course, there’s always the odd request to borrow the stapler or a pair of scissors.
When I first came into the CDO as a sophomore, I told April, a career counselor, that I was having anxiety about graduate school applications. I think she was surprised that a sophomore would already be experiencing anxiety about applications, which would not be due for a couple years. Taking me a step back, she asked me if I’d started working on a resume. I told her no, and that it was beside the point, because who had time to worry about a resume when grad school applications were just a few years away?! It feels good to look back and laugh about my former priorities. I have definitely changed a lot since freshman year.
I came into Bard expecting to go straight to a doctoral program to become a literature professor. But after taking numerous classes and discovering interests in unexpected fields - such as Japanese, Drawing, and Astronomy – I have realized there is much more I want to explore than four years could ever allow. Some students that come into the CDO seem to know exactly what they want to do after Bard. Other students walk in feeling a little lost, like after Bard there is this deep and mysterious cliff of responsibility. For me, I feel a sense of the end coming, but I know there is still much to be accomplished. I, like many Bard students, keep asking the question: how and when should I choose what to do with my life?
I know I want to attend grad school, but when I will go and what I will study, I cannot be sure. Before I spend money on another degree, I want to intern in different career paths, so I can really see if it’s a good fit for me and worth pursuing higher education. Teaching seems rewarding. So does working for a literary agency or a library. On the other hand, I feel a sense of urgency to travel the world and meet new people. There are so many cultures I don’t know anything about, so much of the world I feel a responsibility to see and to understand. I am interested in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program and working on an organic farm in Europe. However, the trouble with traveling is always the money. Traveling is expensive. Not to mention I’ll have thousands of dollars in loans to pay back.
So to save up, I might work for a while in retail or an independent bookstore. Some might not consider this a “career,” but there would be many plusses to such a job. I’d have my evenings and weekends off. I would have the freedom to read for pleasure every day, which is something I have been missing these past three years. I could volunteer teaching ESL. I could take that yoga class or that painting class. I would have time to ride horses again. Who knows how the skills and interests I develop in that time could inspire my later career? The possibilities are endless. Whatever happens, I will make it exciting.
In the meantime, I’ll be spending half the summer in New Orleans as a volunteer counselor with the Bard New Orleans Exchange. There, I’ll be working in the Andrew H. Wilson Charter School’s summer camp to prepare preschool age children for formal education. I’m thrilled to see New Orleans for the first time, hear New Orleans’ street musicians, eat a Po Boy in the bayou, and connect with people whose lives are very different from my own.
After this five-week program, I’ll travel back to Bard to work on the farm in July and August, as well as in the Bard Learning Commons as a writing and ESL tutor during L&T. All the while, I plan to start reading and writing for my senior project. While I may not be sure where I’m headed after graduation, I definitely know where I’m going this summer. I can’t wait to wrap up this semester and head to New Orleans for the first time!
Wish me luck ^_^