Time to grow up

Senioritis has hit the senior class hard, or at least I hope so, because it has certainly hit me. With the sun finally out and temperatures slowly but surely rising, I sometimes look into the eyes of my fellow members of the Class of 2011 expecting to see the blissful look of “I’m currently procrastinating on my last undergraduate paper” mixed with “every day is now the weekend and I can’t wait to go to the next outdoor festivity.” Sadly, the I-leave-for-Hilton-Head-in-a-week sparkle is not what I see in many seniors’ eyes. Instead, I often see fear.

Fear of the future is acutely present in almost every Williams senior, regardless of whether he or she will be working for a prestigious bank or is happily unemployed. Going out in the real world inevitably makes us anxious about the challenges that we are about to encounter. Some of them, such as becoming financially independent, are new to many of us. Others, like the fear of losing the social connections that we have developed in the past four years, bring back memories from the first day of middle school when we were secretly terrified that we wouldn’t be able to make any friends. However, I think that we, the Class of 2011, are much better prepared for the real world than we think.

I’m not going to immerse myself in a lengthy discussion of the quality of instruction at the College. Williams has maintained extraordinary academic standards and we have all benefitted from that. It is true that Williams does not provide us with the opportunity to major in fields like business and accounting, which are widely applicable and highly demanded by the job market. However, no matter what we majored in, Williams has provided us with some valuable skills and opportunities that we can use to facilitate our transition from college to real life.

It sounds banal, but most jobs out there require employees to possess excellent writing skills. Memos, letters, articles, reports: Employers want us to write a lot and write well. All of us have fulfilled the dreaded writing intensive requirement, and many of us have taken advantage of a tutorial course. We have all written hundreds of pages of coursework and, trust me, if you look back on a paper you wrote in high school, you’ll see the enormous improvement. All this writing has resulted from numerous hours of research. It is an unspoken fact that most Williams students never do all of their reading. This means that we need to be crafty enough to quickly scan and extract the most important information from any material and transform it to fit our purposes. Many students also have additional research experience, which shows employers that we are organized, efficient and successful at completing various projects. Overall, we know how to dig deep and come up with multiple solutions to a given problem, which also means that we know how to optimize our job searches.

I think I can safely bet that every senior on this campus is involved in at least two extracurricular activities and has held a leadership position in at least one of them during senior year. Whether you have been the captain of your team, the choreographer of your dance troupe or the treasurer of a campus activity group, you know how to run things, manage human potential and provide structure. These are skills that every employer looks for, and considering the fact that most of us here multitask all the time, we are definitely prepared to become young professionals who are not afraid to make decisions.

Moreover, Williams has developed in us dozens of miscellaneous skills that will help us succeed. Every senior who has gone through the job search process has mastered the art of networking. We should continue to take advantage of the thousands of Williams alums that are out there holding an enormous variety of jobs, who are willing to assist us with whatever they can. In addition, networking has taught many of my friends that it is perfectly fine to seek help from people, to introduce and “advertise” ourselves proudly because nobody will just show up at Sunday brunch to offer us a job. Williams has also provided us with the opportunity to interact with a lot of diverse people. I can only speak for myself, but at the College I have made friends with so many students that I thought I had nothing in common with. Whether you went abroad or became close with someone that’s the total opposite of you, you have the tools to understand and appreciate diversity – to be adaptable. Now, wherever we go, I am confident that we will be able to make new friends a lot quicker than we think.

Growing up is scary, but at this point it is, unfortunately, quite necessary. Now is the time to get on our feet and prove to ourselves that we are capable of adequately applying all the knowledge that we have accumulated in the past 16 or so years. This includes academic, social, leadership and management skills that I can assure you we all have. The beauty of our having a diverse set of skills is that we are prepared to enter any profession and totally rock it. So, senior class, I am absolutely sure that we can and we will climb high and climb far. In the meantime, we have almost a month to reject reality and enjoy “traditional beverages” and the carelessness of the purple bubble.

Iliyana Hadjistoyanova ’11 is a political science and history major from Sofia, Bulgaria. She lives in Brooks.

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