The wait begins.
Yesterday I found out that I had become victim of government beaurocracy and needed to go to DC to arrange a passport emergency. Last minute trip = little financial flexibility. Megabus it is. Gulp.
I get to the bus stop. Trepidation. I see several tired looking people in line in front of me. One woman holds a cigarette between her hands, getting the last hit before the 6-feels-like-60 hour-long journey begins. (I can’t blame her. I find myself trying to soak up all the fresh air I can.) Another man holds a plastic bag for his travel belongings. Everyone looks so tired, just like at Duke.
I get seated on the Megabus. Why is it that they seem to smell like a mixture between floral soap, cigarettes, and baby powder?
[Gearing up for the Career Fair]
9:35: I'm eating breakfast and reading The Chronicle. Kind of. Pancakes at Penn are really hitting the spot, and consequently distracting me.
9:36: Headed to the Career Fair today. Job. Career. The Future. Watcha gonna do with your life, Elizabeth? Nerves? Nah, it's just the rest of my life starting right now, in a gym that smells like sneakers, at a table, with a stranger who can only be so excited to work yet another career fair... Piece of cake!
9:37: Advice I read in The Chronicle from the Career Center: Know what you want to get out of the fair. Right. Obvious. Hi, I'd like an internship-that-becomes-full-time-job, please. Preferably highly paid that allows me to eat local and organic. Got one? Great. See you this summer.
It’s that time of the year again when we all start to hear the question… The one that if you’re like me and knee-deep in internship applications, can put your stomach in knots: “You have plans for the summer?”
Excuse me while I binge on Downton Abbey episodes and Trader Joe’s dried mango slices. I will do all the dishes, scoop up the dog poop, and stare down those creepy squirrels that jump out of the trash cans on West Campus. Just don’t remind me that I. Don’t. Know. Because let’s be honest, there are few things that Duke students like less than not being on top of things. And now, with lots of internships to find and emails to write, it’s not only “not on top,” it feels like I’m at flat bottom.
I spent the previous week studying for finals and writing papers with limited sleep, but when I handed in my last assignment, I felt a mixture of relief and resignation.
âThank you,â the department secretary said, âYouâre all set.â
âThatâs it?â I asked.
âThatâs it!â She replied cheerfully.
From the very moment we enter kindergarten our next thirteen or seventeen years are no longer up to us. Sure we can rebel, choose to drop out of school, or elect not to attend college. But we’re all at Duke, so I’m going to go out on limb and say we allowed our lives to be dictated by a cultural hegemony. Our immediate goal was decided for us – do well and move on to the next level of education. Of course we had opportunities to define our interests and seek complementary ventures, but the key word is complementary. With few exceptions we never chose to substitute our end game.
A Letter from Bill Wright-Swadel, Fannie Mitchell Executive Director of the Career Center
A liberal arts buffet is an educational meal of choice, depth, range, and integration - a mix of academics, experience, and reflection. However, a plate too full is a bad casserole, not a sumptuous feast.
During the fall semester I shared a tweet that was an appropriately cryptic version of the above statement on the Student Affairs/Career Center website. It was in many ways a summation of the conversation the career staff has with students all the time. “How can they take advantage of the wonderful opportunity that is Duke, while not becoming so immersed in the possibilities that the experience becomes a chaotic mix of too much, done not well enough?”
by Alex Shapanka
College is one giant crossroads. Every decision we make has far-reaching consequences, developing our interests, habits and personalities. Not every choice is easy, so we seek counsel. We talk to seniors about worthwhile courses and professors. We speak to the Career Center and professionals about our intended career path. But why are we asking in the first place?
Fear of failure. We as Duke students like to do well and hate it when we don’t. We take every precaution to guarantee we achieve. We solicit advice from others to confirm our decisions, as if third party validation were a guarantor of success.
The dreams of many a female politics/policy wonk were fulfilled this past week when Ellen Moran, former White House Communications Director and Michèle Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, visited Duke.
Moran’s talk on September 20th, cosponsored by the Baldwin Scholars Program and the Women’s Studies Department, focused on how the upcoming election is significant for women candidates and voters.
Flournoy’s lecture tonight will be on how American Grand Strategy is affected by fiscal constraints; however, I was fortunate to sit in on her ladies’ breakfast this morning in which she also discussed work-life balance, being a woman in the national security field and career trajectories.
By Alex Shapanka
Remember how every adult you know wanted to impart last minute wisdom as you headed off to college? I don’t know about you, but I wrote it off as generic and common sense. “Enjoy it. It goes by quickly.” “The next four years make the next forty.” In other words don’t screw up. Got it. Though I dismissed it, as I imagine many of you did as well, their thoughts were genuine and sound advice.
As I enter senior year, I finally realized I couldn’t fully appreciate what the ‘grown-ups’ said a few years ago, simple and poignant as it may have been, because we can’t completely understand that which we haven’t experienced, and I had not grown-up yet -- I still haven’t, but their advice is starting to be more meaningful.