Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wrapping up the undergrad story...

Maybe I'm not quite ready to begin writing about 9/11 or graduate schools just yet.

In 1998, after 14 moves in 6 years, I decided that I wanted to settle down for a little while.  I wanted the chance to stay put.  While I had friends on campus and locally whom I had kept in touch with as I ping-ponged between work and school, I wanted the stability to be in community, to stay put for a while.

So I redid my plan of study to add a sixth year.  I didn't have very many engineering courses left, which gave me time to continue my language studies.  I turned both of my languages into Minors.

My second summer on campus, between my fifth and sixth academic years... the Cooperative Education program rules said that I had to take classes or work every semester.  There were not many summer classes for a super-senior going from 5th to 6th year; none of the engineering courses I wanted, nor language courses.

I was able to negotiate an independent study with my Spanish Literature professor, to continue some of the reading I had done for that class.  That left me with 9 credits to play with.

My sophomore year, I had begun to take History of the Ancient World, but I dropped it after starting Russian.  It was offered as a Maymester course (an intensive, one-month long class), so I signed up for that.

Then, for the regular summer term, I took Religions of the East and Religions of the West, two survey classes that built on my previous religious education.  I figured that religion is a key component in the global world that we live in. I had a good foundation in my parent's Catholicism, but I wanted to know more about the others.

A classmate, when we discussed taking the two classes, mentioned that it was halfway to a Religious Studies minor.  So then I looked into the requirements, saw that she was right.  For my independent study of Spanish, I worked with St. John of the Cross's "Dark Night of the Soul," and compared it with Aldous Huxley's Perennial Philosophy.  I was able to count that towards both Spanish and Religious Studies.  Then I added a philosophy class to my final semester, and had a third minor.

My senior year of college was not perfect, I both failed an elective and managed a "B" in band.  But it was, overall, a good year.

I made time to work on my job search, and did about 50 job interviews. Believe me, not every one of those 50 interviews went well.  Some were excellent, some I bombed.  Over the course of the year, I probably made every mistake they warn you about.

I applied to one company, went to their information session.  I quickly realized that, as traumatic as moving had been for me, the road warrior life of consulting was not for me, right then.  I was upfront about it with the interviewers.  They encouraged me to practice interviewing anyway, which I did.  After that, I was careful to avoid similar postings.

My first goal in my college job search was to have an engineering job, with a reasonable (market value) salary, that would support myself and my husband, and so at first I cast a wide net.

Given that there are many different engineering jobs that met these requirements, my second goal was to find one in the aerospace industry, preferably on a NASA project.  As I got a better idea what kinds of jobs were out there, I narrowed my focus more.

Then I got the offer I wanted, and began to look forward, to Houston.