Emily Kennedy ’15
When I came to Providence College as an eager 18-year-old, I was brimming with passion and the sense of possibility. The campus was filled with energy and excitement as 1,000 young, fresh minds arrived glossy-eyed and nervous, but ready to be inspired. Everything was new and we had nothing to lose. Our potential had yet to be molded. As my fellow classmates and I were ushered to the field for Play Fair, I saw a similar sense of passion and excitement for what we could do in the next four years and beyond. I met classmates who enjoyed history, had a passion for public service, wanted to change the education system, were interested in becoming a doctor, and were budding entrepreneurs.
Now four years later, when asked the question, “what are your post-grad job prospects?” I am increasingly aware of the common response, “I am working at Liberty Mutual, PWC, Deloitte” — or insert other prestigious Wall Street name. I hear about the aggressive recruiting from “Insight Global” and the promising accounting jobs at “Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co., Ltd.” But why does it seem that, like herded cattle, many of us are just following the crowd?
So what happened? Where did the history buff go? Or the girl who wanted to change education policy? Will that kid still start his own business? How have these bright, inspired, hopeful freshmen morphed from being driven by passion to being goaded into conformity along with thousands of other post-graduates?
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the need to be practical, and finding a decent job after graduation is a massive accomplishment. I also know that some people really do have a passion for finance, or accounting or consulting. But I’m also not convinced that the volume of new grads the big recruiters hire is the best use of our talent and ambition. We were tossed in a sea of liberal arts education for a reason. We learned to think critically and reason practically. We understand the trajectory of Western Civilization and learned more than a little bit about ethics and theology.
Those are credentials too. The kind that make previous generations say we’re their hope and promise. Yet at every job fair I attended and every email I received from Career Education, I was invited in with a slick and well-worn marketing pitch. Few seniors have any idea how to get a job, let alone know what they want to pursue. But these companies are brilliant marketers. They know how to make us feel special. They personalize their emails and say they could really use our insight and creativity. Of course, how many of them really expect to tap our creativity? How many of them really think we’re special? We don’t know what we want, but apparently these companies know that we would be a good fit.
Maybe I’m too much of an idealist, but I think that most young, determined students want to make a positive impact on the world. We want to have a sense of purpose, to feel empowered. I know that kid who spent spring break traveling to rural Pennsylvania for Habitat for Humanity does. I know the girl who taught dance classes to little kids over the weekend does. Even the guy who spent his evenings tutoring English to employees on our campus does. Providence College students are driven to do good things. We can do anything. There is so much more out there than crunching numbers and spreadsheets to make more money for those with the most. If that’s what you love, I’m glad that you love it because the world needs you. But if your first job out of college is not your dream pursuit, please don’t let go. Do not forget the creative energy, the innovative spirit, and the carefree excitement that you brought to PC when you became a Friar four years ago. And remember, more than anything, never lose your passion.