Life After Ripon – Elizabeth Brown ’13

Chapter 5: Routines and Jobs

[Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Brown ’13, Jessie Lillis ’13, Kyle Ruedinger ’13, and Amy Browender ’13 are writing alternating monthly entries for the Ripon College Newsletter chronicling their post-graduation experiences. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on Life After Ripon!]

It is now about 1.5 months into my second semester. Classes are interesting, educating, and more than a little demanding. The weekly routine usually consists of run-walking between some combination of class and work and then coming home to spend 5-6 hours hunting down citations in databases and reading. This is intermingled with attending guest speakers and events on campus when they fit into my day. However, I have noticed a weekly trend, which goes something like this: as Monday approaches Friday, coffee intake increases. This is probably the story of any working person or student’s life. The other day, one of the Graduate Assistants I work with informed me that there was some leftover coffee in the fridge from a meeting two days ago. My response went something like “thankyouthankyouthankyou thankyou.” Later I reflected and tried to come to terms with my new severe dependency. However, even if I am dependent on caffeine for now, at least a good friend assured me, “I’ll let you know when the bags under your eyes get bags of their own.” Always nice to know someone’s looking out for you.

Caffeine dependency aside, my work at the Career Center is a pretty big part of my weekly routine and is something I really enjoy. I also realized that, like Amy Browender ’13 until her last post, I haven’t really talked about it. It challenges me, allows me to do lots of librarian things, and I get to meet and counsel students with career concerns. A typical day might include cataloging some materials for our library of career-related books, creating informational guides, marketing the collection through different media forms, designing displays, meeting with students one-on-one, or a number of other things. Although I could talk at length about how awesomely interesting “library things” are, I’ve been told by non-librarian friends that they just “zone out when you go into your library jargon,” so I won’t subject you to a description of that part of my job.

So far, for the drop-in service part of my job, I’ve met with over a hundred students coming through the Career Center and have learned so much. One thing career consulting has taught me is that you never know what you’ll be asked. A question could be relatively simple or there could be so many questions you’re not sure where to start. However, assisting students with concerns about their future careers is really fulfilling, and even if I’m having a rough day otherwise, when a student leaves me with, “Wow, this was so helpful,” I can’t help but feel good.

However, I am sometimes met with the response of, “Why didn’t they tell us about this sooner? I wish I had known about this during orientation as a freshman.” While I’m pleased that the student now knows about whatever the shared resource was—be it book, web resource, or process of how to research different occupations—I too am a little disappointed for them. This gets me to thinking, “Whose responsibility is it?” Is it the student’s responsibility to look into occupation options or the school’s to teach them how to get started? Maybe they were taught it in the beginning but didn’t internalize it? Career information certainly isn’t hidden, but it also becomes really scary as you approach the time when you’ll actually have to start looking for a job.

March can also feel like the worst month. As a student, everyone around you also appears to be looking for a job. However, everyone else also seems to have done cooler internships, taken more classes, have publications, and are just more competent, smarter, more competitive, and better at everything! How will you ever find a job now?! Well, the good news is, you’re not the only one that feels that way. The bad news is, I have yet to meet someone who actually enjoys the job search process.

If you’re in that process right now, I completely empathize; I know the feeling myself and see that forlorn look in student’s eyes every day. Also, when you run across those dream jobs and don’t think you’ll be the most qualified candidate, ask yourself, “What have I got to lose by applying?” Hang in there.

Elizabeth H. Brown ’13
[email protected]

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