Friday, September 24, 2010

Crescat scientia…

by Neil Weijer, Project Administrator, Chicago Careers in Business

Greetings new first years! By now you’ll have left your parents behind in a drone of bagpipes, all of your carefully-acquired items will have been meticulously arranged (or thrown at random) into your new dorm room, and you’ll have even completed the whirlwind tour that is O-Week at the University of Chicago. But that’s far from the end of it. Soon you’ll be joining students from other years at the RSO Fair (October 1st: mark your calendars), and all that information about classes, calculus, professors, and PE requirements will be competing with a wave of potential extracurricular activities.

By the end of next week, you’ll likely be receiving more listhost email than you could possibly read, and come December you’ll wonder why you ever even gave your name to some of these lists in the first place. When they explained the motto of the University to you (“let knowledge grow from more to more…”), they couldn’t have been talking about this, right?

Not quite. At least for the moment, resist the urge to unsubscribe from the lists. Skim the emails when you have time. Who knows when something interesting might come up? Whether it’s a lecture, a one-time event, or just a chance to meet and talk with new people, there’s nothing like a flash of the unexpected once the grind of the weekly schedule (not to mention the Chicago winter) sets in.

The point of O-Week, and of events like the RSO Fair, is not to bombard you with more information than you could ever possibly need. Rather, it is to let you see just how much is out there for you to do and to see while at the U of C. It’s easy to feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, especially in the first few weeks, but as you go on through the year you might find time to try some of the activities and clubs you’ve signed up for, and may very well end up liking them.

In just the same way as the activities fair can help you find clubs and societies that you’re interested in, it’s never too early to start looking for things to do over the summer or after you graduate. On October 1st, I’d encourage you to stop by another event –the Fall Career Fair, which happens right before the RSO Fair—to see what I mean. You’ll hear people from different companies and areas pitch their lines of work to you. You’ll put yourself down for even more e-mails. You’ll probably even get some free stuff. Most importantly, even if you’re not looking for a job, you might see something and think “I might like to do that,” or even “I might like to work there.”

At CAPS, we’re happy to provide all the resources we can to help you along the way: whether they’re structured (like our growing number of Chicago Careers In… programs), more general (like counseling), or even more listhost emails. If you’re eager to look at internships, industries, or specific companies, or if you’ve simply seen something interesting (a job posting, a seminar announcement) in one of our emails, come talk to us.

One thing that I wish I had known during my first year (and subsequently after) is that finding a job after graduation works much the same way as finding classes and activities does while you’re in school—the more you know, the better off you’ll be. While all the information may seem like a lot to process at first, you never know when something truly interesting may present itself, or when you might remember a club, an activity, or an internship or career area and think to yourself “that might be fun, let me try it.”

One of the most important things that you can take away from your time at the U of C is this: it pays to keep an open mind. It’s one of the reasons we make you take the Core (another is to provide fodder for t-shirt slogans). But even after your first quarters are done—after you know how everything works, after you “know” what you plan to do next year (and beyond)—keep looking, be curious, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

So if you’re new here, welcome. If you’re starting another year, welcome back. We’re happy that you’re here, and we’re just as interested as anyone else to see what you’ll do with the information we give you. After all, life isn’t going to simply enrich itself…