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What the Cogan Talk Taught Me about What Life Should Look Like as a Post-Grad

Kristina Rodriguez ‘19, Opinion Editor

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I just went to the annual Cogan Dinner and the associated talk where Roger Brubaker ’03 was talking about his life after Dickinson. Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about what I’m going to do next. The logical answer that college is supposed to prepare us for is for me to immerse myself in the work force and start making money or “making a life for myself”- but what does that even mean?

Havent we already made lives for ourselves here at Dickinson? And didnt we make lives for ourselves back in high school when we were comfortable and living in a familiar space that we grew accustomed to? That’s why I kind of find this phrase “Making a life for yourself” problematic because it implies that everything we’ve done up until right about now is not valid. It’s the equivalent of saying “Today is the day we start our lives” at those high school graduation speeches. I think we should give ourselves a bit more credit than that.

Why can’t I make a life for myself by following my passions even if it means I may not always be following the money? What I took away from Brubaker’s talk is that he did not plan out a clear life path and expect to have it followed exactly as he wanted it to. He went to Oregon just to climb bigger trees with his wife, he went to the Peace Corps. with his wife, did social work, and he is still navigating his path.We are always told to think “realistically” when realistically speaking, most of us are not going find our perfect job on the first try and we are not going to go on a straight and narrow path to “success” (whatever that means).  The truth of the matter is, life happens. Brubaker decided to travel and basically start over, sacrificaing the comfort and familiarity he and his wife adapted to, and went off to become who he wanted to be. He said that sometimes we have to make sacrifices and reflect on why we may choose not to embrace change- either because of obligations binding us to where we are, or out of fear, and Brubaker chooses to overcome his fear through change and just doing it.

I think  we are falsely taught and expected to choose a career path and “explore” with money we don’t have for a certain amount of time until he have to finally choose and stick with it for the rest of our college careers to then pursue a job that is directly correlated to our majors.

I find it interesting how many times when people ask me what my major is and they find out that I’m doing English and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, they kind of upturn their noses and give a disinterested sound of disappointment because these are not majors that directly have a specific type of career path associated with it like health professions or law. But, at this day and age we can literally go into college and study ANYTHING for these four years and end up doing something entirely diferrent- so why not just follow our passions rather than having to choose one career and one educational focus?

I beleieve that it is important to explore our passions and be adaptable and open to change because it allows us to grow as people- it also makes for more interesting stories for us to tell our grand-kids one day. I feel like as long as we can apply what we’ve learned in college to any professional field, we will be able to get any career we want. It’s all about the gift of the gab and how well we can advocate for ourselves and make connections from what we leanred to what we want to do in the career force.

At the end of the day, it is the skills we obtain through our learning experience that allows us mobility and makes us competitive forces  when going through the interview process. We could take the best possible courses for a specific job, yet if we are unable to explain how our education and internships can help us for different career paths, it means nothing.

As I get closer to being a post-grad, alumnae of Dickinson College, and living life after Dickinson, I am trying to worry less about whether my majors will fit the mold of the perfect job and think more about how I will turn my passions into skills for the perfect job for me (at that point in time).

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What the Cogan Talk Taught Me about What Life Should Look Like as a Post-Grad