One of the things that scared me the most as I entered college was the prospect of reality. Words like “decisions,” “long-term plans,” and “responsibilities” loomed over me, but I soon encountered multiple valuable resources for developing professional skills.
Over winter break, I participated in the Career Development Office’s (CDO) Shadow a Sagehen program. Through this program, I learned how to build a LinkedIn profile and navigate the Pomona College alumni page in order to connect with alumni in the fields I am interested in. The CDO helped me craft a respectful, genuine, and enthusiastic message that conveyed my desire to learn more about alumni experiences and hear their words of wisdom. After sharing my message with several alumni, I was able to set up both informational interviews and job shadows.
During my first informational interview and job shadow, I met with a Pomona alum who is the City Year Los Angeles Managing Director. As we had lunch together, I learned about the way City Year recruits new college graduates to spend 11 months post-graduation in a partner school of a high-poverty community to provide academic, social, and emotional support to a small group of students. As part of the job shadow, I sat in on a training session for corps members, as the new college grads are called, and I discovered new pedagogical methods to engage young children and ensure that they understand the material. I ended the day by hopping on the Metrolink at LA Union Station, which conveniently runs straight back to the Claremont station across the street from the Pomona campus.
For my second informational interview and job shadow, I met with a Scripps alum (ah, the beauty of 5C connections!) who is the Community Outreach and Education Coordinator at the Chino Basin Water Conservation District. She shared the curriculum and the free field trip program she has built that enables students to learn about water conservation and have an experience that would otherwise be financially infeasible for their schools. I tagged along on a third-grade field trip to observe the fruits of her efforts and found that I had as much fun (if not more) as the kids!
Lastly, I had a phone interview with a Pomona alum who is Director of School Insurance at charterSAFE. She shared the way her experiences led her to work with insurance, and how her current position aligns with the goals she established throughout college.
In addition to the increased confidence and comfort I gained by networking, I found that the alumni shared a great deal of helpful, reassuring life advice.
Among the topics I discussed with alumni, the question of their journey to where they are now strikes me the most. A common thread ran throughout each conversation: work hard and pursue your passions, but don’t worry. Not a “don’t worry, everything will be served to you on a silver platter”, but a “don’t worry, a Pomona education prepares you—so make the most of your time there.”
The alumni shared how their eclectic collection of experiences led them down a winding road to where they are today, rather than a straight-shot path to success. Although the latter is possible, they shared, the former is much more typical and a lot more rewarding. Even when I asked about where they saw themselves in the future, keeping their current experiences in mind, they weren’t 110% sure.
Allow me to conclude Part 1 of this series in professional development with this helpful excerpt from “10 Questions with Admissions”:
(To be continued. Look out for the next part of this series!)