College: Northwestern University
Hometown: Dix Hills, New York
First Job: Teach for America in Oakland, California
Job search advice for the Class of 2000: “Start early, talk to people who are already working in areas that may interest you, and send out as many resumes as possible!”
What were the most important criteria for you in choosing a first job out of college?
“First of all, I wanted to be happy. Or at least not miserable. I wanted to work with interesting people, and work on projects that would interest me. When I first heard about Teach for America, I thought it was an amazing opportunity. I would be able to directly impact others’ lives and try to help less fortunate students receive an equal public school education in their underresourced communities. As a recent graduate, I’m in the amazing position to go after any job I desire and go to any area of the world. I’m not tied down and don’t have a family to support.”
How important is money?
“Of course it’s important, but I wouldn’t accept a job based on salary alone. As I said, I would like to earn enough to be able to support myself (and pay off my student loans!).”
Did you take into consideration benefits as well as salary when choosing your first job?
“I did take these all into consideration. I didn’t want to have to live off my parents after I graduated, but eventually I wound up working for a lot less money than I could have made if I accepted a job in the other fields that interested me, namely technology.”
How important is the company’s working environment?
“It’s very important to me that I get along with my co-workers. I’d like to be able to sit down with them at lunch and discuss our day, our lives, our thoughts.”
How much influence did your peers have on your job decision?
“Not much, they were very supportive of Teach for America. My close friends all went on extremely different paths, so I wasn’t really being pulled one way or the other.”
Did you feel pressure from your family or professors to take a more traditional job with security?
“My parents were happy that I decided to do Teach for America, but of course they had their concerns. After much convincing, they’re very proud of my decision. Teach for America is only a two-year commitment, and then I’ll have to start the whole process over again.”
What was the most frustrating aspect of your job search?
“It seemed that so many people were competing for the same jobs, and the recruiters were looking more at our resumes and GPAs than our actual personalities or experiences. I also felt that I wasn’t getting a lot of help from the university career center. I did most of my job search on my own, using the Internet as my main resource.”
What do you hope to get out of your first job?
With Teach for America, I hope to feel that I’ve made a difference in at least one person’s life. If one student looks back 20 years from now and remembers me as a great teacher, I’ll feel successful. In addition, I’d like to show myself that I can make it on my own, in a new city.
What do you think you can offer as a recent college graduate that other, more experienced job seekers can not offer?
Mostly, enthusiasm. And a great willingness to learn. Most of us are not tied down to families, so we’re eager and willing to travel and work long hours.
Do you see your first job as a career in itself or a stepping stone?
These two years will be such an amazing experience for me. I still haven’t decided whether to pursue teaching or not, but this will teach me a lot about myself and my abilities. I’m sure Teach for America will give me the self-confidence to go after any job I desire.