February 28, 2012
North, east, then west; back and forth across time zones; and a couple of really big leaps—my path to Pacific was circuitous at best. Sometimes it takes unexpected experiences to get exactly where you want to be.
This morning, I visited Pacific University’s Career Development Center to learn more about the resources available to students preparing to venture out into the working world. (How daunting that seems today!)
As I learned about career fairs, one-on-one resume sessions (read more later this week), and planning sessions for students at multiple points throughout their educational career, I started thinking back on how I got here.
When I graduated from college, let’s say about 10 years ago, I had a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in print journalism, and a dream of working my way up the newspaper ladder, perhaps to a job at The Oregonian or, straying only slightly into the glossies, to Newsweek.
I had held part-time jobs in offices and in bookkeeping, I had years of experience on campus newspapers, and I had a couple of internships at professional newspapers. I don’t think I ever had any formal education in how to develop a resume, though, and certainly I was clueless when it came to job fairs (a somewhat terrifying prospect for the naturally shy).
I took my first job at a six-day-a-week newspaper in Kenai, Alaska. It wasn’t the most financially prosperous position, or even the most logical, but it was exactly what I wanted at a time when I had adventure in mind, so I took a chance. In my three years there, I visited remote villages accessible only by air or water (or, it seemed, time machine). I hiked, learned to cross-country ski and shared the neighborhood bike path with a family of moose (carefully). I even jumped off a five-story building, though I was attached to a harness and spotted by some Young Marines practicing their rappelling skills.
When I was ready to move on, I took another chance, accepting sight-unseen another newspaper job in Casper, Wyo. Alaska prepared me well for the remoteness of Wyoming, if not the dryness. I spent a couple years at the paper before deciding that the newspaper reporter lifestyle was no longer my style. I took a job in community relations at the local school district, where I worked five years before coming to Pacific last fall.
That in itself was an adventure—I got the job, and my husband, son and I packed up and headed west, where we prayed for our house to sell (yes!) and my husband to find a job, too (he’s enjoying the rare chance to be a stay-at-home dad in the meantime).
I am very much living my dream—though it’s a different dream than when I was an undergrad. I honestly can’t remember the last time I even picked up an issue of Newsweek. But I am writing and editing a magazine for a living. I am telling stories about people, about a place I believe in. And I’m able to balance it with the great privilege of being a wife and mother and living in the Pacific Northwest where I grew up.
Today’s Pacific students may be preparing for the workforce at a difficult point in history, but from what I’ve seen—from resume workshops and job fairs to a great liberal arts education and cocurricular opportunities—they will be well-prepared. I hope they will take advantage of every opportunity, here and in their lives outside Pacific: You never know which experience is going to be the one to trigger your next adventure or shape your dreams tomorrow—even it takes a few unexpected leaps.