Editor’s Note: This post is geared quite a bit towards K seniors, but we in Admission think it might be interesting for prospective students to read, as well!
Spring quarter is one of the most exciting times at Kalamazoo College (K). The snow is [slowly] melting, the Juniors are back from study abroad, the probability of being hit by a frisbee while walking to class increases exponentially, students are smiling again; it’s beautiful. It is also one of the most stressful times. Senior Spring is the perfect blend of paradox, in which you are forced to figure out what you are doing “after college”, while encouraged to reminisce on all of your life-changing experiences throughout the past four years. Seniors are faced with the moral dilemma of choosing between writing cover letter #15 and reuniting with their friends from study abroad to cook recipes from their host countries. Although tough, I can proudly say that you will make it through. So to all of the graduating seniors—and to those who will be in the same position soon—this note is for you. I present to you the most important lesson learned after graduation day.
Find your passion
By all definitions of the word, I would consider my senior year to have been a success. I was a Peer Leader, Departmental Student Advisor, Student Commission Executive Board member, honor student, singer, poet, and social justice advocate on campus. After years of trial and error, I finally felt like I made it. On June 10, 2012, surrounded by faculty, staff, family, and friends, I strutted across the stage to receive the illustrious bachelor’s of arts degree. I was invincible.
On June 11, 2012, my K bubble was promptly burst. My family left, my classmates were dispersed throughout the world to chase their dreams, and I was stuck in Kalamazoo with a hot apartment and no plans for the future. Just like that, I went from a graduating senior in a class of 250 to being yet another unemployed twenty-something in the millions of Americans fighting to find an entry-level position. Though a harsh reality, I was determined to persevere. I was fortunate enough to have saved enough money to spend my last two months of my lease in Kalamazoo working on my next steps.
Throughout all of the mind-numbing resume tweaks, the overindulgence in 90’s cartoons on Netflix, the porch-sitting with friends still left in Kalamazoo, and the stewing in my bikram-yoga-style apartment, I sat to reflect on the following questions:
1. What departments and student organizations did I gravitate towards during my time at K?
2. What issues make me emotive?
3. What are my strengths? What have others identified as my strengths?
4. Where do I see myself in the next 10 years? What will I need to do now to get to that place?
It was through this reflection that I identified my three fundamental passions: transparency in leadership, youth development, and the allocation and optimization of resources. In other words, I like to show people how to get what they need to succeed. By recognizing these passions, I was able to narrow down my options and find work to continuously kindle those passions.
At the end of the two months, I was set to move back home to New York City to participate in the NYC Civic Corps program with the Mayor’s Office of Service. The NYC Civic Corps is an AmeriCorps program dedicated to leveraging volunteers through community service to tackle New York City’s greatest challenges. Through this experience and building connections with the Mayor’s Office, I have transitioned into a yearlong fellowship with the Mayor’s Office to co-manage the aforementioned AmeriCorps program. Though I am unsure of my next steps, I know that my work must engage those three passions so that I can advance my career aspirations.
I will not pretend that my experience can be generalized to everyone at K. I also acknowledge that I was privileged to be able to move back home and know that this may be impossible for others. Although this is true, I believe that identifying your passion is universally beneficial. Whether it is for finding a job or even for deciding which a major to declare, the previously listed questions will help you to navigate the path to success.
Life “after college” may induce fear. However, with the right mindset and the tools to identify your passions, I know that you can make it through. Lux Esto, and let your light shine through this nebulous future.