It's Time To Begin...

It's Time To Begin...

Isn't it? See what I did there?... took a contemporary song lyric (Imagine Dragons) and made it fit my life experiences at this point in time. That never gets old - even with a college degree in hand. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, a college degree in hand! I probably mentioned it sometime along the way in my multitude of blogged adventures. My semester in Washington, D.C. was, in fact, my last semester. I'm now in the process of trying to remember that life doesn't come in semesters, summers, and winter vacations anymore. It's just... well... life.

 

"So, how does it feel?"

That's the question I'm getting from EVERYBODY. How does it feel to be a college graduate? How does it feel to be done? To know you're not going back in the fall? I'll be honest... scared. I mean don't get me wrong... as they called my name at commencement and people cheered, as I walked across the stage and received my rolled-up mock diploma (real one to come in the mail soon), as I shook President Gaffney's hand and went in for the hug (yea, I got personal with the Admiral), it felt good. I felt accomplished. Four years of hard work culminated in two degrees and a bunch of awards. Who wouldn't feel good about that? It actually wasn't until after my graduation party last Saturday that I started to feel scared. That's when I started to realize I was entering a world of unknowns. I'm a planner... down to the minute. I plan every instance of my life. I know I previously blogged about my plan to go to law school starting in the fall, but I question that decision each and every day. At this point, I'm applying for full-time jobs in the media field, hoping I get something. I think that a full-time position is exactly what I need... not more schooling. Not now at least. One of the many things I took away from my TWC experience is that it's not all about the degree you hold in your hand... in fact a Master's won't necessarily get you anywhere better than a Bachelor's. Neither will a Juris Doctorate. What will get you somewhere is work experience. That being said, no law school + no job = no plan. No plan = crazy Kate. So, I'm just trucking along at this point.

 

List of Jobs

This is 1 of 2 pages of jobs I've applied to... hoping to snatch one of them up!

 

"You know the job market isn't very good right now...."

That's the statement I hear from everyone. Every. Person. Who. Questions. My. Decision. They all say it. But I'll be honest, the job market isn't good for anyone... high school diploma or not. College education or not. Higher degree that is "just" a Bachelor's or not. I met people in D.C. who graduated from Georgetown Law and are now working in fellowship positions. Temporary fellowships making much less than their law degrees cost them. That's what the world is like these days... it's hard for everyone to get a job. I get that. However, I think what I've learned over the past 4 years is what I'm made of... ambition, intelligence, hard-work, a tolerance for lack of sleep, and a pinch of I'm-about-to-do-whatever-it-takes thrown in there. Being in D.C. for a mere semester I learned that those things are exactly what it takes to get a job. That you need perseverance sandwiched between connections and your résumé... that's the perfect recipe for success. I have that. The Washington Experience - as I'll call it - made me realize that I have that. And now I'm willing to take those realizations and those traits to fuel my job search and propel me into a pretty darn good future. Related to this realization is the recognition that things will work out. I spoke to a lot of people in D.C. who told me how TWC changed their futures; how interning uprooted their plans; how their worlds were turned upside down by experiences they took during their time in college. I look at these people and see that they are 1) okay, 2) employed, and 3) willing to help me figure things out. I made a lot of connections during my time at The Washington Center, and those connections are helping me through my tough times and tough life decisions. I see that and think, "Gee, I'll be okay, employed, and helping others one day!"

 

Commencement, shaking President Gaffney's hand!

There I am, chatting with the President as I walk across stage!

 

Just relax!

That's the advice I'm getting from just about everyone these days, too. Everyone knows that it's not easy graduating and entering the world of the unemployed. However, when people look at me they see the hard work I put in the past four years. I barely slept (average 4-5 hours per night my junior and senior years). I worked way more than I should (way over the 20 hour per week limit put on MU students). I served on executive boards of multiple organizations since I was allowed to (the most at one time? ... Five!). That work was recognized this past spring at various awards ceremonies, and I'll be honest - it wasn't until I went back to my home institution and picked up a BOX of awards that I realized just how much I'd done. I thought it was normal to just keep going and just keep doing. Apparently, it's not. However, I look at all the work I've done at Monmouth and in D.C. and know that all of that work and effort will pay off. It's already begun to... heck, my internship supervisor still emails and calls me for favors, help, and projects! And while in D.C., I was offered the opportunity to work with an award winning filmmaker and possibly travel to Cambodia next year to make a documentary. Tell me that isn't cool!

 

However, for now I'm going to take everyone's advice. I'm going to just relax! I'm going to vacation in the Dominican Republic for one week, and maybe read one of the many books on my list that I've neglected for the past two years. I'll give myself seven days to decompress. To think. To breathe. Then I'll take on life as it comes.

 

Then, as I take on life, I'll continue to think about the amazing times I had over the past four years at Monmouth University. I'll think about the opportunities I had to grow. And I'll think about how all of that culminated in the best 15 weeks of my life... 15 weeks spent at The Washington Center as part of the International Affairs program and interning for Genocide Watch. I'll think about how that experience made the world more confusing but less daunting at the same time. WEIRD. I'll think about how I learned to listen and appreciate new perspectives on life, more than I had before. I'll think about the new friends I made and the old ones I reconnected with, and how they helped me be who I wanted to be. I'll think about how this experience changed me and made me who I am, and how I'm always going to appreciate spending my last semester in Washington, D.C.

 

Standing in front of the Capitol

Me, in front of the Capitol, before I knew what this experience would really mean for me.

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