Six applications, two rejections, and one interview. The quest for employment on my end has been stressful to say the least. Four weeks in, I can confidently say that senior fall has been my hardest semester. The classes I’m taking now aren’t that difficult, but the activities that constitute job hunting itself are what I’d consider to be a fifth class. Reaching out to alumni, asking for referrals, resumé revision and cover letter construction, case prep work, etc. has started to blur into each other. Even in the days that I accomplish everything I set out to do, I still feel like I haven’t done enough. That feeling I keep noticing stems from that “never enough” mindset ingrained into every Swattie during their first year. Much like the Swat plague, you don’t know where it comes from but once it hits you it hits hard.
After the interview I had nearly twenty-four hours ago, I spent my Sunday morning looking at job positions on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Handshake. Jobs in fields that I have no interest in were all of a sudden very attractive to me. Countries that I hadn’t even considered working in started to seem reasonable to me. When I saw something in Copenhagen, I knew that I had gone too far. That whole process took several hours, but I still didn’t feel productive. As I reflect on where I’m at right now in my academic career, I also see myself at an impasse between where I should logically be versus where I want to be. It’s the classic case of settling for security vs pursuing your passion.
I’m trying to go for a job where I can naturally pivot from the former to the latter, yet for some reason I feel that whatever job I obtain (if I do actually get one) won’t allow me to strive for my dreams on the side. The longer that I stay on that job, the harder it’ll be to walk away and that’s what scares me. That’s where my mentality is at right now, and as tediously repetitive as this cycle has been, it is nice having some semblance of a game plan. It’s also reassuring talking to other people in my year and discussing our prospective career paths. Some of us have jobs already lined up for us after graduation, some of us are planning to go to graduate school immediately afterwards, and some of us just want to take a break from work altogether and just travel.
So far I’ve talked to five alumni who’ve graduated in 2018. They shared with me some of their fondest memories made during their final year, as well as what they wish they had done differently. Everyone had a similar theme of “documenting your last days.” One said to start journaling daily whereas someone else said to vlog your last month and Senior Week especially. At Sharples, an alumna told me to “go over the fence” whenever I find myself hesitating, which is hilarious to me because she’s always been risk-averse herself. I’m not sure when I’m supposed to take those leaps, so to speak. However, I’m making an effort to try new things — writing in Campus Journal being chief among them, and serving on Swarthmore’s executive board for the National Society of Black Engineers.
I’ve spent more time working on securing the future bag than with the people who’ve become my second family. I’m hoping that by late February or early March that I can call my mother and father to tell them that their first-born will finally help put some food on the table. When I get my first check, you can bet that I’ll be ballin’… well, after paying my apartment rent, utilities, groceries, my own Netflix bill, student loans, and my parents’ finances. If there’s anything left, then I’ll splurge. The alumni I’ve talked to didn’t really have senioritis until late spring when they had already found their jobs. When that period comes, I pray that I, along with all the other seniors, can find and revel in an untampered joy that no problem set, seminar, or discussion could ever take away. Friends who are younger than me always get frustrated whenever I lament how much I’ll miss them after I graduate, but it’s true. Trying to plan your future while neglecting the present is to throw away a gift. Swarthmore as a whole has been pretty good to me and I hope I can start my senioritis sooner rather than later. The last thing I want to do is waste the potential to make even more memories.