Most people come to college so that they can get a degree and enter the job market and have a decent paying job. This may have been guaranteed 50 or more years ago but this isn’t the case now. There are and have always been alternative pathways to financially succeeding in life and with education being more expensive and guaranteeing millions of graduates debt for more than 10 years one starts to question whether they believe it’s even worth it. As I near the end of my college career I have asked myself the prompting question Where might my capstone take me in the future? In various ways. And having dedicated 10-15 hours a week at a local non-profit for my senior year I have become aware of the nature of the realities of the working world and also the hope of academia.
The real world
One of the things that struck me whilst working at an environmental economics think tank that addresses social justice issues in the city of Portland was how I saw the theories I’ve learned manifest themselves in the real world. I saw ecotypes in the idealism and action of the way the organisation I work for fought for what they believed in and held workshops for the communities we served. I saw the application of theories in writing and presenting reports. And I also saw the way we marketed ourselves when writing grants. College has taught me how to be a critical thinker but not how to play the game of reality. Through being able to be “objective” and study situations, scenarios and theories, I have been able to critically imagine realities without actually experiencing them. And so during my internship I have been struck with how fast paced real life is and I have been trying to reconcile my academic self with my workplace self.
Skills and Capstone
Although this is something that may sound corny or overrated, college has given me tools to be able to function in a working environment and make meaningful contributions to my team. I have seen how the skills I have gained through the courses I have taken have helped me feel equipped to be of service to any organisations I choose. At first I noticed that the skills I had learned weren’t going to be a perfect fit to my job and that I had to be creative and put myself out there. I think I won’t pursue anything related to my capstone academically or in the context of an organisation I would like to work for but I know I can use it and the skills that I learned in developing it in my future endeavours.