Dream What You Do, Do What You Dream
By Sara Kassir, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, January 25, 2013
For about six years, I dreamed of being an author and illustrator of children’s books. Then I turned eight, had an existential crisis and dreamt a new dream — I wanted to be a doctor. My goals for the future have changed upwards of a dozen times since the third grade. Maybe I’m fickle, but from what I know about my peers, it doesn’t seem like I’m the only one. We all have aspirations, some of them more consistent than others, but also need paths to achieve them.
So how does one go about finding their dream job at Dartmouth? A trip to Career Services might not seem as magical as being awakened to your calling, but it is a logical place to start. Taking a moment to stop and think is an integral step in not only achieving dreams, but in figuring out what they are in the first place, according to Career Services co-director Monica Wilson,
“Understanding yourself is a key piece of the puzzle,” she said. “In the Dartmouth system, everything is so fast-paced that we use little time for self-reflection.”
From conflicts with parents regarding career paths to figuring out how to make the most use of a major in Romance languages, counselors can help students who take the time to stop by in countless ways. But that’s the important part — you have to stop in first, and then be prepared to spend time on the process.
“When students put the time and effort into their search, they’re a lot more likely to achieve what they want,” Wilson said. “If they’ve thought carefully about why they want to get into a career and they’ve spent time talking to alumni and other connections and have developed skills that employers look for, they’ll be more successful.”
But what exactly are these students looking for? Not necessarily a specific place they want to be by the age of 30. On the contrary, the majority of Dartmouth students do not have a dream job in mind, but rather have other priorities that combine to form a career they would be happy with.
“Most often, students say they want to use certain skills or be in a particular location,” Wilson said. “People want to be working near their friends and family.”
Lizzie Short ’12 is an example of one student who did not plan to have her current position as a history teacher and track coach at an all-girls boarding school. In spite of her unexpected path, Short said she is very content with her post-graduate experience because she is able to apply some of her favorite aspects of her Dartmouth education to her current work.
“I wouldn’t necessarily call it my ‘dream job,’ but I really like what I’m doing,” she said. “It’s great because I’m using a lot of the things I learned at Dartmouth directly in my work in education. I’m teaching history from the same time period I was studying and draw pretty heavily on the courses I took.”
In addition to the educational foundation Dartmouth graduates receive, networking can be particularly useful in achieving more clear-cut expectations. Clark Moore ’13 learned the benefits of this resource when he broke into the entertainment industry to land his current role on the hit TV series “Glee.”
“I think one thing that helped me was the alumni who supported me during ‘The Sing Off’ and afterwards, whether getting representation, getting auditions or just having a meeting and giving advice,” he said. A member of the Dartmouth Aires, Moore appeared with the a cappella group last fall in the NBC singing competition “The Sing Off.”
Career Services also promotes the Dartmouth alumni network and believes that its advantages are not always fully appreciated by students, according to Wilson.
“The Dartmouth community network has over 24,000 alumni and is a key resource that is underused at Dartmouth for advice in particular,” Wilson said. “These people can provide information on what their career is like, the nature of a company, how to get an interview, how to position yourself and so on.”
While being advised might not sound as appealing as being given a job, it can be a crucial first step, especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re aiming for. And as Short was sure to mention, there really isn’t anything wrong with not knowing.
“You don’t need to have your dream jobs figured out before you graduate or even after,” she said. “I think that your dreams change and you get a better sense of what you want to do and what your dreams are as you learn about yourself.”
While the idea of being on the outside of the Dartmouth experience is scary enough, maybe it’s understandable that many students are hesitant to think too far into the future. But once in a while, knowing where you’re trying to go can be a good way to make the most of being here. Your four years might be some of the best of your life, but who really wants to peak over sophomore summer? Think ahead so you’ll eventually be able to think back and know that it was worthwhile.