Thursday, November 28, 2013

Holiday Season-Responses to Uncomfortable Questions

Now that we're in the throes of the holiday season, young adults everywhere are finding that their family asks uncomfortable questions.  Careers, love lives, politics, religious beliefs-it feels like sometimes, everyone wants to know your private business and share their opinion of your life with you.  The kicker? They don't actually want to know your private business but, when you don't see people for a long time, they're unsure of what to ask you. How do you handle this?  Well, here's a little cheat sheet.

Question: So, what are you going to do with that degree/what's your dream job?
Answer: Well, I'm currently doing X, I'd like to do 2X in the future, but I'm happy where I am/am currently looking at X and I'll share more when I have news. So, how about that bean dip?

Question: How's your job search? You still haven't found a job? You need to do XYZ, etc.
Answer: Well, it's tough out there, but I'm still working hard on it. I'll share news when I have some.  By the way, have you tried the gravy?

Question: Are you seeing anyone? How's your dating life? (If single) When are you getting married/starting a family? (If coupled)
Answer: Well, I'll share news when I have it!  (Now, if you really want to shut that whole thing down, put on a sweet, pious look and say, "Well, it's really up to God!" Of course, that only works if your family isn't religious and you are).

Question: What do you think of the election/Did you support the President? You know he's socialist, etc, right? Or, you know all Republicans think X, right?
Answer: I understand why you might feel that way but I know politics can divide during a time when we're supposed to be united.  I'm happy to discuss my views with you more at another time (if you feel up to it and feel that they're looking for an honest dialogue, rather than a fight). Anyway, my mom makes the best cranberry sauce!

The key to surviving the holiday season is to remember that your relatives do love you and are probably just trying to understand more about you.  Make sure that you at least talk about something you're excited about-whether you've taken up a new hobby, found a great community, etc.  The answers I've given are for those topics that can truly be dicey, though sometimes, people don't really understand that they're being inappropriate. It's often hard to know what to talk about when you don't see someone more than twice a year, especially if you have a tight knit family, though I can speak from experience when I say that it's also hard to not take certain questions personally.

At the end of the day, if you have a home to come home to, food in your stomach, people who love you and others, you're more privileged than most of the world.  Be grateful if the most trouble you have with you family are annoying questions. With that, I wish you a happy and warm holiday season. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

A few words of advice for those beginning their careers

You probably think I have no bearing to talk about this. After all, I'm a fairly young professional myself.  I just got my first career building job offer (yay!) after a year of temping and a couple more of volunteering and waiting tables.  I want it to be known that I don't consider myself an expert on hiring, planning your career or getting your shit together.  However, I did find a couple things helpful in this process-both in terms of figuring out my career and in getting my life together in general. I hope they help you.

Read your offer letter CAREFULLY and make sure that your negotiated salary and benefits are in writing. If it's not in writing, it didn't happen (by the way, for you young'uns, that should be your life motto from the moment you get your first financial aid package. Or job offer, regardless of what you're doing. Or apartment. Or, really, anything that could impact your life).

By the way, don't you ever think for a second, "Oh, my manager/HR said they'll take care of it." Your manager and HR department aren't in charge of your career. You are.  If you want something, you need to ask for it and you better be prepared to back it up, preferably with accomplishments more than "loyalty" or seniority. Do I think this country's fair to its workers? Absolutely, I do not.  I think of getting my dual citizenship with the EU every time I read about our minimum wage or lack of paid maternity leave.  All the same, because of that, you have even more at stake. Don't be afraid to look elsewhere if your job is "stable" (in the world of at-will employment, it's not) and don't be afraid to change your path if you find you're on thin ice.

It also wouldn't hurt to build a strong network of people and to be a person of integrity.  Yes, there are powerful folks who will screw everyone over but, until you're that powerful, your reputation is a currency. Don't waste or underestimate it. And, if you do get that power, remember what it took to get there and pay it forward. No matter how powerful, wealthy, or influential you become, you're never too important to give back.  Guess what? Even a good portion of our millionaires realize that. Don't believe me? Ask Warren Buffet and Dave Ramsey. While you're at it, pick up some Dave Ramsey books.  Too many people in this country go broke when they don't have to.

These aren't only my thoughts but part of a journey of figuring what I want in life.  Whatever we want, we have to figure out how to get there while remembering who we are in the process. This post may seem like it's mostly about careers and it is, but it's also about life.  Let's live it well. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Quiet Time

My life is relatively quiet right now.  I go to work, keep a budget, attend Mass every Sunday, sing in a church choir, attend social events, exercise, train my voice and spend quality time with my future hubby.  It's lovely, in its own way.  It's nice to come home to one person, keep a regular schedule, to have time to contemplate and be creative, to actually finish a book and to sip a glass of wine slowly and carefully.  It's nice to have a regular community of both young folks and older folks coming into our lives.  It's nice to focus on fun but relatively mellow tasks such as planning my wedding. It's nice to have a job where I can focus on my long term career and also reap necessary benefits such as health insurance.  I have to say, I'm grateful for the quiet.

I haven't always been. I've gotten used to chaos.  In the past few years, I've managed to hold down a demanding job and live on my own while attending college, spend a quarter of a year in a foreign country, question my faith as well as my ethics and sexuality, deal with crazy housing and travel situations, visit a Native American boundary,  deal with underemployment, make close friends only to lose some of them and experience some trauma along the way.  Right on top of that, I found myself falling in love and deciding to commit to him for life.   The lows may have been low but the highs were like standing over a waterfall in Kenya-well worth every possible risk that may have led to the adventure itself. 

It's hard to get used to the quiet.  It's not easy to adjust to the ordinary.  I keep wondering when the next big thing is coming.  However, I am starting to appreciate what peace and quiet feel like.  I'm realizing I need this in order to prepare for whatever comes next.  I need this to grow strong and to develop myself.  I need this in order to become who I am more fully. 

Still, I can't wait to see what comes next.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

I'm Conventionally Beautiful......And I Hate It

By society's definition, I am conventionally beautiful.  I'm a white woman.  I'm young.  I possess a body type that is coveted in our society.  I've been told I have a great smile.  I don't possess any physical disabilities or disfiguring characteristics.  Of course, that should be important right?  What is a woman, if not beautiful?

I friggin' can't stand it.

First of all, my physical appearance is something I did not attain.  It says nothing of who I truly am or have become on the inside.  One can have straight teeth, perfect skin, and shiny hair and still possess an evil soul.  Further, we portray beauty as something that can be attained through discipline and hard work.  While exercise, healthy food, a carefully selected wardrobe and the right hygiene products can help a person feel good and can lead to improvements, it cannot guarantee that we will attain the looks so coveted by society, which segues into my next point.

Beauty is very narrowly defined by our society.  The attractive woman is always white, with very few exceptions for women of color-usually when they want to portray someone as "exotic" (and they still largely have European facial features and straight hair).  She always has a tiny waist and hips, with minimal body fat, yet manages to carry a large wrack.  She never has any physical disabilities or experienced disfiguring effects of a disease or accident.  When was the last time you saw a woman with a wheelchair on the cover of Vogue?  Or a woman with a missing limb? Yeah, that's right. Never. Maybe once. In addition, she is always young.  Why else do middle aged men, with wives of the same age, feel so free to joke about wanting to make it with a teenager?  Once you hit forty, you may be the mother of a beautiful daughter, but you're no longer beautiful yourself.

Why is it so problematic that we have such a narrow definition of beauty? The problem is, while men are valued for what they contribute (particularly if they're white/Christian/straight/middle class/able bodied and minded), women are solely valued for looks alone, followed by fertility.  Our destiny is contingent solely on having the ability to get people to want to glance at us. Our ability to have a fulfilling career, a loving partner and a happy life is contingent on people not being repulsed when they see us.  

But, I benefit from it.  Why should I hate it?  I hate it because I know I'm a pregnancy/car accident/illness away from losing my ability to be seen as a human being.  I don't want to be known for my looks.  I want to be known for what I do.  Why is that so hard to understand?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Financial Freedom is Freedom

I've always been interested in personal finance.  During my last two years of college, I worked as a waitress and paid for my own apartment.  Ever since, financial independence has been crucial to me.

I'll admit, I have not been perfect. I'd always been a saver (case in point, my relatives beg me to do "something fun" with gift money) and I tend to have a general idea of how much is in my bank account at any given time.  However, I never had a written down budget and I find that I can spend money on stupid stuff (I'll forget to pack sufficient snacks and need to make a Starbucks run during the course of my day). All the budgeting templates I would find online were complicated and I felt I couldn't use them at points when my income was irregular.  Also, living on a volunteer stipend and later supporting my partner while he found work left me feeling a bit lean on cash.  I thought, "Oh, I can do a budget later, when my job situation is more stable!"  However, I learned that living paycheck to paycheck was just too stressful and I needed to change.

I got a Dave Ramsey kit for my birthday and that really changed the way I thought about money.    I learned not only that I needed to save money-I learned how.  I learned how, exactly, to allocate my cash each month, which goals I should strive for as I save (an emergency fund first, pay off all debts next, etc.) and even what insurance I would need (I had no idea ID theft insurance existed, much less that it was necessary).  It also has forced me to look ahead into fellowships I can qualify for when I choose to go to graduate school-no more debt for this chick!

I learned that, even in this economy, it is possible to get ahead financially.  Even when wages have stagnated and jobs with full benefits are difficult to come by, it's possible for us to make choices that allow us to get ahead.  It is challenging. It involves very careful planning and living well below one's means (for us, that means not going to our favorite restaurants).  However, if it means I can spend my life pursuing my dreams and live well with my companion (not to mention set my kids up well for school), it's worth it.  Further, as someone who is committed to social justice, it would allow me to give more of my resources to work I believe is important. 

We may not be able to control our jobs or the economy.  But if there is the smallest barrier I can place between me and the chaos of life, allowing me to ride the wave even if I can't stop it, then I have the obligation to do so.  I always want to help others-but I need to use my own oxygen mask before I can help others with theirs.  If you can, I'd encourage you to do the same.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Carpe Diem

The title of this blog post might as well be my life's motto.  I never felt it was acceptable to become too comfortable.  The world is just too full of every intense emotion and experience.  It's why I prefer having a job where I'm constantly busy and challenged, even if it means long hours, to one where I may have plenty of leisure time but that offers no challenges, no conquests to be won.  It's why I choose to travel to countries everyone else is afraid to go to-it has to be incredible if everyone would rather stay behind.  It's why I prefer the energy of the city to the predictability of suburbia.  It's probably why I, normally practical, had a whirlwind courtship that resulted in an engagement nearly six months later (4.5 months till the wedding!).

Everyone always told me how brave I am for this, as if pursuing the desires of one's heart is only for the valiant.  No, I'm not brave.  I just pursue what I want to pursue and conforming to society's vision just never spoke to me.  I'd rather have a career that involves helping to create a better world than one where I simply come out with a lot of money, so that's what I studied for and pursued work experiences in.  I wanted to travel, so I found ways to make that happen.  Sometimes, the opportunity has to present itself, so I keep my eyes peeled-whether in terms of my career, an opportunity to travel or simply the ability to build and maintain my singing voice.

It just seems pretty simple to me, actually.  If you want something, you find a way to prioritize, even if it means you can only take one small step today to get there. Even if it means today, just starting to turn the, "Oh, that'll never happen," into a , "Well, maybe someday." Even if it means putting those pennies you found on the sidewalk into a coffee can, with the intention of slowly saving for whatever dream you wish to pursue. We've all heard that every journey begins with a single step, why not start with that step?

What's your dream? What baby steps will you take to make it happen?  What mountains will you climb to follow your heart?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Why I've been away for so long.......

I'll admit, I haven't been the most consistent on this blog for awhile.  I feel like my hey-days in blogging were back in 2009 and part of 2010 while I simply fell off the wagon in 2011 and have only occasionally written since.

As with most people, quite a bit has changed. I completed a year with AmeriCorps, where I worked with middle school students in the inner city.  I temped at a cancer organization for nine months and am now in a position at a different company that has me working in education and also works on international issues.  I do love my job though I'm still getting used to the learning curve (I've only been there a month). I like my colleagues a lot and they're prepping me for high level projects. In between, I'm taking voice lessons, singing in my church choir and planning a wedding that will be Catholic, Italian, with a bit of an untraditional bent.  I'm also trying to see my friends more.  In addition, I'm trying to get the apartment organized and build an exercise routine that I'll actually maintain.

There really isn't anything earth-shattering happening.  Right now, I'm just grateful that my life isn't as hectic as it used to be.  Once I actually practice build up my voice more and can start putting together a good repetoire, I'd like to seek performance opportunities.  My companion and I are talking about Peace Corps or some other long-term abroad opportunity for a couple years after we wed. Then, there are ideas of grad school, claiming my dual citizenship, possibly having a baby or two, maybe running at least one marathon......

The one thing I don't want to do is lose sight of my dreams.  But right now, it's about organization and prioritization.  With that, I see a corner of old papers that has my name on it. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Separation of Church and State is a very good thing

When it comes to religion in government, here's my list of what I'd like to see throughout the U.S.:

1. Absolutely no mandated prayer in any organization that is not primarily religious (and voluntary prayer should never be led by someone in authority).

2. No laws against divorce/adultery/marriage between consenting adults of any kind.

3. No Bible, religious images or Ten Commandments statues in any government building.

4. People swearing by the Constitution in court, OR a religious text of THEIR choosing.

What else would you like to see?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

To Change or Not to Change-That is the Question

'Tis the question if you are a lass awaiting her nuptials, even in the present day U.S.  Shakespeare allusions aside, the choices regarding a married women's surname can evoke questions and controversy.   From romantic notions and family unity to ideals of gender equality, there are people who hold strong views on the matter. For me, the decision to keep my original surname was a personal choice, but one I wanted to reflect my ideals and politics as well.

I was probably in the sixth grade when I first thought of hyphenating my name. Back then, my aspirations involved becoming a successful actress living in New York. If I were to marry, I would hyphenate and build it as a brand name. In any event, that's how it worked in my brain.  Later on, in high school, I figured I'd go with the culture and take a man's last name, but the idea of at least hyphenating stuck in my brain. It wasn't till college when I decided to keep it for good.

I read writings by Jessica Valenti, founder of the online community Feministing and author of several books.  I learned that the reason women began changing their names upon marriage was to signify them being transferred from their father to their husbands as property.  Though I know the vast majority of  women don't change their names for that reason anymore, I could not get that idea out of my head.  Further, if a guy is able to maintain his own name, identity and career before and after marriage, why not a woman? I don't see how possessing XX chromosomes makes me unworthy of my birth surname after marriage or unable to pass it along to my children, just like their father.

Yes, we are a team.  We're an equal, united front, committed to building a strong family, as well as names and careers for ourselves. However, even players on the same soccer team all have different names from one another. They are united under one team but bring their individual names, strengths, and talents to the table and are known by their names as well as their team.  This is how we envision our union, as one where we recognize the overarching goal but are still recognized by traits that make us unique, including our names.

As for whether or not our children will suffer, I've had friends from both egalitarian families and Latin American families who've inherited multiple surnames. Some tend to prefer one or the other and, when they get married, some choose whatever combination sounds better or makes sense, given their heritage.  I'm sure that, by the time we're raising heirs the empire, they'll adapt and grow like any other children.  They may have to worry about me sticking them with totally awesome names like Santino and Lorenzo. Hey, I am marrying a fellow Italian, even if our surnames don't show it!

Of course, we could actually execute Lily and Marshall's plan from How I Met Your Mother and call ourselves Mr. and Mrs. Awesome :D  But that's another idea for another day.

If you really want to show you value women..........

Dear guys of the world,

You don't have to get us flowers or candy. You don't have to help us into cars, take our coats, or hold the door (just push it back if you know we're behind you).  You don't have to pay for every single date, take a job you don't like to provide for our every need, prove yourself completely unemotional, or bench 300 pounds and carry all our groceries.  Yes, they can be nice gestures, but they're not necessary.  Nor do they show that you necessarily respect women.

If you want to show you respect women, call men out when they make homophobic or sexist jokes or if they refer to women as "bitches" or "the c word" (you wouldn't use the "N" word if you were a white man, right?).  Call men out when they talk about women as if they are pieces of meat or objects and never tolerate a friend who brags about nailing a girl who passed out (that's what we call rape, folks).  Never tolerate folks who would blame a woman's rape on her or who'd demean a woman based on rumors, appearance, or past actions.  Even if you find similar biases within yourselves, do every thing you can to check and correct them.

If you value women, never let anyone joke about the "bitchy boss" or about how periods make it impossible for women to be in positions of power.  Do everything you can to learn about and from strong women, whether they are political leaders, military commanders, activists, artists, or scientists.  Stand up for equal pay in the workplace and make sure women are not excluded from networking events or consideration for higher level positions. Take time to get to know women in your field and help them succeed, just like you'd help another man succeed.  Stand up for paid family leave (not just maternity or parental leave) so that all men and women with needs can take time to attend to them.

If you see women as people, stop beating up on your buddies for doing things women typically do.  Whether a fellow man decides to stay at home with his kids, pursues a career in education, social work or in the beauty industry, pays special attention to his appearance or is emotionally expressive, demeaning and shaming his behavior shows what you truly think of women. It shows that you think anything a woman is known to do makes it less worthy to pursue.  It shows you believe women are worth less, so the careers and hobbies they choose to pursue are also worth less. If that's what you truly believe, you cannot say you value women.

If you believe women are equal persons, understand the bias behind your expectations in a relationship.  Know that, if a woman isn't quite so good at housework, it doesn't mean she's not taking care of you (and you might as well use a Swiffer from time to time).  Likewise, if a woman chooses to keep her surname, it doesn't mean she doesn't love you, and if she wants to treat you to dinner, her intent is not to show off but to take care of you like you do for her.  She isn't your servant and she's not an extension of you.  She's her own person, uniquely gifted with dignity, aspirations, and preferences. Treat her as such and I predict a wonderful love life :)

We don't need to be treated with kid gloves, as pretty dolls, plastic saints or useless trash.  We're people. We need to be treated as people. We're your mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, friends, and colleagues. We deserve and demand respect.  Otherwise, your gestures and gifts are mere tokens and trinkets, worth less than we apparently are to you. 


Every woman who's ever been a part of your life in any meaningful capacity

A list of annoying wedding stereotypes and hypocrisies

1. White Dress = Good Girl: I cannot tell you how, when I originally thought of wearing a colored dress (I ended up with a white and red gown), women would tell me that I'd somehow be impure for choosing it.  What was interesting about these allegations is that these same women thought nothing of bringing home someone they didn't know, while I was the goody two shoes.  Even more, they would tell me that I needed to "loosen up" and "be liberated."  So, I'm supposed to have tons of sex but not look like I ever have?  Makes perfect sense.....

2. Be independent, but your guy's ego is most important: We're always told to be "liberated," to have a career, take control over our love lives, live on our own, etc.  But, God forbid, you choose to keep your last name or pursue a career that allows you to make more money/take a higher level position than your man (assuming you're in a heterosexual relationship).  Then, there are all sorts of accusations that you don't quite love your sweetie "enough", because his "male ego" will be destroyed. Of course, women should feel free to take their husband's name if that's what they want or pursue whatever career they want. However, the key word is choice.

3. Don't get married young, but you're a spinster at 30: Biological clock, blah, blah, blah.  We tell women to not get married "too young" because they need to "find themselves", yada yada. However, if they are still unmarried by 30, we're told to feel sorry for them? Love comes when it comes and it doesn't always fit convention.  Besides, there are many ways to have children and we're more than our parts anyway.  I want a companion, not someone simply looking to grow a seed.

4. We don't like religion, but we'll oppress you with wedding "traditions": Follow the morals of your faith, especially the strict ones, and even your family will think you're irrational.  However, choosing to walk down the aisle with your spouse in lieu of your father, taking pictures together before the ceremony starts, and having your man come along to help you pick out a gown means you're doomed to an eternity of marital hell.  I think my brain just exploded.......

5. You both need a day to be "wild' even if you wouldn't while you were just dating: If you know your spouse would disapprove of wild bachelor/bachelorette parties, especially if they involve excessive drinking or strippers, why would do it? And what kind of company do you keep if your friends would force you to do it? If you're both comfortable with the decision to spend the rest of your lives together, especially since you chose to get engaged, why would you feel the need to, if it would hurt their feelings? 

6. Get pregnant right away, even if we told you not to: It seems that, once you do get married, everyone wants to know when your gametes will combine to form a unique zygote. Never mind that, up until your wedding, they were telling you to do everything, short of selling your soul to Satan, to not get pregnant.  Word to family and friends-it's kind of creepy that you'd want to be in the marital bedroom at all.  We'll let you know if plans change. Thanks.

7. Don't be vain, but go in debt: We love to criticize over the top brides with lavishly expensive ceremonies (and call them bridezillas when the stress makes them crack). However, if you choose a small ceremony, a less lavish venue, or don't have an open bar, people act like you really don't care about your wedding.  Vendors will price gouge you just for inserting the word "wedding" into the event name and on top of it, they won't allow your fiance to ask questions or get involved-I've had the unfortunate experience of a vendor pretending mine wasn't even there.  Bottom line, it's only your opinion, your money/your parents' money and your attention that matters, no matter what.  However, if the stress makes you crack, you've descended to the depths of reality TV. Sorry, just the way it is, folks.

8. Love your body, but diet for your dress: Probably one the dumbest things I've ever heard.  Not only is it just a dress, it's a dress intentionally made to primarily fit the largest parts of your body (read: boobs) with the idea that stress will force you to lose a few pounds and then they can charge you around $300 for alterations.  By the way, diets don't work and I can't see how depriving yourself of your favorite foods is helping your stress-maybe that's why brides get a little cuckoo.  Men and women should eat reasonably healthy and try to exercise at least three times a week.  At the end of the day, does it matter that you had the perfect body?

9. Carefully choose food, alcohol and cake that you can't enjoy: You have to spend a lot of time and money on all three of these. Yet, when it comes to the day, you spend so much time working the room, you barely get a chance to eat. On top of it, you're wearing a dress that costs a month's rent (on the cheaper end) and people are clinking their glasses every five seconds (note to future guests-we are going to ignore you if you do).  It's based on this whole idea that the wedding is about your guests more than you.  Honestly, though, if you're celebrating the couple, wouldn't you want them to relax and enjoy themselves? Also, if the bride is already a bit stressed, wouldn't food do her some good?  Seriously, people, it's pretty ridiculous.

10. Your wedding is and isn't about you: Especially if you were born a woman, people tell you that your wedding day is "your day."  Well, if it's truly your day, you should be able to make decisions about what traditions you want and don't want, how you choose to celebrate and honor your commitment and what roles to give people without any backlash whatsoever.  A wedding should reflect a couple as they are and use traditions that reflect their values and unique relationship.  Whether they choose a place of worship or an aquarium, create their own surname or serve all vegan cuisine, it should fundamentally be their choice and no one has the right to coerce them.  Not all traditions are good and not all modern ideas are evil.  If we truly believe in choice, we need to live by it.  Maybe we wouldn't see a lot of premarital stress and jitters if we simply honored that rule.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Most annoying assumptions and statements about International Development....

1. Why can't you help Americans? First of all, what are you doing to help Americans? I hope those asking this question are working with underprivileged youth, calling attention to issues of hunger, unemployment and gun violence and working to clean up the environment.  Second, we don't believe in a zero-sum game. While we spend our own energy helping the poor overseas-who, coincidentally, are worse off than the poor in the U.S.-that does not mean we don't care about the poor in our own country or advocate for more progress. Finally, if you're a Christian and saying this, shame on you.  The Good Samaritan parable should remind you that everyone is your neighbor and ties to a nation-state shouldn't matter.

2. So, are you going to be like Angelina Jolie?  Many of us have conflicting views about celebrities in development. Yes, they probably have good hearts, they have time and resources most of us don't have and they have the attention of the media.  The problem is, they're not trained in international development-a field, that requires a foundational understanding of complex cultures, economic situations, and politics. Most of us who enter prepare to spend our lives there and we end up aware of situations that celebrities are not.  For example, while they fundraised extensively for the tsunami and for Haiti, because they lack the understanding of local customs and politics, most of the money did not go to the people who needed it most.

3. So, what are you going to do with that degree, anyway? College education is supposed to teach you how to think, not necessarily prepare you for a career.  International development consists of many different professionals, as there are multiple facets of international development. Some get involved with health efforts, others get involved with business and finance, others with education, others with governance and civil society, others with human rights, still others with engineering and infrastructure. Before we figure out which sector of ID to enter, we take the time to gain an understanding of economic theory, U.S. and world politics, language proficiency, research and writing skills and world cultures.  We also intern and study abroad to get a practical taste of the field we're about to enter. For some of us, it takes years of service and advanced degrees to figure out which sector to enter.  Some of us enter something completely different.  As I said, college teaches you how to think, not necessarily what to do.