Category Archives: After Colby

The Watson

The Watson Fellowship is a grant established in the name of Thomas Watson of IBM for liberal arts college graduates. Each winner receives a stipend to study and travel as long as it is outside the United States of America. Every applicant is tasked with creating a completely unique travel experience that combines their interests with whatever they would like to study. After a whirlwind week, I have just submitted my application. It consisted of a personal statement, a project proposal and then other administrative items like resume and application.

While I am just beginning the process and face some pretty steep odds for acceptance, the process of creating an entire plan based on my personal experiences and interests was really interesting. Coming up with an itinerary that was both new, unique and yet feasible was valuable process within itself, and it gave me some insight into what I may like to do whether or not my application goes any further in the process. And for those of you interested in what my project is, feel free to read on…

Here is my abstract: For my Watson Fellowship entitled “Conversations on the Cornerstones of Culture: Minds Music and Munching”, I plan to combine my interests in philosophy, music and food into a multimedia experience by traveling to cultural and culinary intersections of Europe, Asia, Africa and South America to have conversations with different intellectuals. Each conversation will consist of us making said intellectual’s favorite meal and pairing it with their favorite musical album, followed by a rich conversation over the meal. Each meeting will be recorded and presented in podcast format for others to listen and the recipes will be posted online.

About Jeb Waters

I'm a philosophy major and administrative science minor from Hancock, Maine. I play on the varsity lacrosse team, am the director of operations of the student-run investment fund Mayflower Hill Capital, and I run the school's satire paper. This summer, I worked in business development for my family's artisan jam company, Blueberet.
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Fort-Building First Day Fun

Hello again!

Today was my first day of my internship at The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover, NH. The museum itself is full of color and light and shape.

I met Alex, my new partner-in-crime and fellow intern this morning. The two of us spent time today “familiarizing ourselves with the exhibits” (read: playing in a giant submarine, building lego cars and racing them, and making music on the sound wall).

We spent the rest of the day arranging and re-arranging the studio space to turn it into our new “Forts: What Will You Build?” exhibit, focusing on creative ways to engage and change a space. We set up clothesline and big pieces of fabric and a whole assortment of “statement” pieces for kids to take apart, rearrange, and put back together again. PVC pipe, a bed sheet, and puzzle panels became a tunnel; two looms, a chalkboard, and a parachute became a command station. The whole area has been transformed, full of color and whimsy, and I had so much fun today making it happen.

Day 1 of the exhibit, all set up and ready for play!

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Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads

Sorry I’ve been posting so sporadically – senior spring is harder than you can even realize.

I’m at a weird point right now, and it’s because I can see how finite the college experience really is. We’ve got, what is it, 6 weeks left at this point? That’s not a lot of time, and seeing a number that small (which will only be getting smaller) really gets you to prioritize things.

What makes those 6 weeks seem even less significant is the fact that – pause for effect – I got a job! –Ish. I got an internship for 10 weeks this summer, so for at least 10 weeks this year I will be employed. It’s at Proof IC, which is Burson-Marsteller’s go at branching out into advertising, and I’m going to be copywriting. And you know what, I’m really lucky, because I must have sent out 30 job applications, and Proof was one of only a handful that got back to me. With good reason, though. I’m not studying advertising here, and aside from a campaign I’m running right now for a big space-themed day the Space Club is planning for next week, I haven’t really done anything that could fill a portfolio.

For a long time, I was really not into the concept of networking. You know, naïve old me and pipe dreams of a meritocracy. But I would be unemployed and (if the people I talked to in the business are right) at somewhat of a dead-end career wise if I didn’t use the employment channels made available to me. Aggressively use, at that. Here’s the degrees of Bacon – I go to Colby, where I go to school with a kid who’s dad is a VP at Johnson & Johnson, his dad got me a job in the communications department, that hires BM as an outside agency to handle bigger jobs which I asked for a tour of, and got showed around Proof and advised by a current copywriter, who held my hand through the application process and put in a good word for me. I don’t know how many degrees that is but that’s not the point anyway. The guy who showed me around is essentially going to be my mentor this summer. That’s the point.

The VP at J&J was a crazy nice guy and didn’t need to help me out as much as he did. But I knew where his office was and made sure he knew that I wanted to meet people in advertising. I’m not an employer, but I would think it’s good to let people know you have ambition.

Non-sequitor, Michael Hecht of NASA and MIT (a real life rocket scientist) is coming to speak at Colby this Thursday, which is going to be prefaced with the famous Colby cheese platter and followed by a screening of ‘Apollo 13.’ Yes this counts as part of my ad campaign.

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It’s been a while

This is my first blog post in over a month. Let that sink in for a little bit.

For Janplan, I was back in New York doing an internship for Johnson&Johnson that I applied for on a whim. I’d never done a Janplan internship before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Turns out, J&J didn’t really know what to expect either, and that actually worked to my benefit.

Not benefit in that I just sat there and didn’t do anything because they didn’t have anything concrete planned for me, but that I got to do whatever I wanted (job related.) I worked under the VP for consumer communications, which is essentially the internal PR team. Not exactly advertising, but it was close.

The most significant work I had was writing articles for the company’s internal website (intranet, check out that word that I now know exists.) I did pieces about the new recycling initiative they’re undergoing, some black history month events, a new program to help hires assimilate faster, and even an article about the brand’s K-Y Valentine’s Day ad. The assignments were fairly sporadic, though, so that left me lots of time to explore the rest of the company.

I got to tour their creative lab, which was kind of like a miniature advertising agency on-site. I also got to see their insanely well-equipped TV studio that they have so if the CEO needs to get patched in for an on-air interview on a news network, they can do it right out of headquarters (and film small things for the company as well.) I sat in on business calls with my boss and basically learned how to conduct myself in the corporate world. I’m not really into wearing shirts with buttons, but still, it’s good to know what to expect/avoid if I ever end up someplace like J&J.

One of the coolest things I got to do was take a tour/go out to lunch with one of the copywriters from J&J’s massive PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, who gave me a ton of advice about what I would need to do to catch a break in the advertising world. Let’s say my plate is pretty full right now (significant frowny face.)

But, it’s my senior spring, which means I need to make my time here as dense as possible. And, as a bit of shameless self promotion because it is entirely relavent, here’s a link to the article I wrote for Colby Magazine (the alumni one) last year about the first day of class:

http://www.colby.edu/colby.mag/issues/61/article/1363/class-act/

(also, I didn’t get left back, they got my graduation year wrong (another frowny face.))

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Change of Plans

I was watching a documentary the other day called “happy,” about happiness around the world. The conclusion that it came to, basically, was that in order to maximize happiness, you should surround yourself with people that you care about, and in order to release the maximum amount of endorphins, you should be doing something physical to occupy your time.

I had watched this documentary at a time that I was just getting over not getting an internship for January. I had met with the top two people at the Colby Career Center, both of whom told me that I was at a disadvantage when in came to post-grad employment because of my lack of experience, and I was feeling pretty inadequate. So after watching this thing, I thought to myself, whatever. This is my last JanPlan at Colby, I’m going to spend it with my boys doing blacksmithing all day every day, going snowboarding on the weekends, and doing something that was neither blatantly academic or career oriented. I was really excited for the chance to do this thing that people rarely get the chance to do.

Then I get this email two days ago. It’s from a VP at Johnson & Johnson – you know, that huge health multi-national – saying that there’s an internship for me if I want it. Obviously I should have been instantly ecstatic because this is a huge opportunity for me and is some crazy resume swag, even if it’s not in advertising (the industry that I’m interested in.) And it’s paid (400/wk!!!). I feel like such a brat because I had applied to this internship as somewhat as an afterthought and every practical part of my prefrontal cortex is screaming at my limbic system to be more pumped about this internship, because I also get to be back home in NYC for January. But honestly this news just came at such a weird time, because I really was so looking forward to having a manish January. Sending the email to the instructor saying I couldn’t take his course was difficult.

Well, in other news, the Geminid meteor shower is going to be peaking tomorrow night and it’s supposed to be amazing. It’s a new moon (meaning no moon) so the Internet is saying that viewers will be able to see 150 meteors/hr, which is insane. Since it’s finals week, Space Club isn’t allowed to hold an official event, but we are still trying to blow up the airwaves and get people to come out as a study break. Hot chocolate is on me.

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I’m a hero

Oh man I have a lot going on right now.

Yesterday was especially busy. I had to wake up early because I had to read an entire book for my fiction writing class. A class, mind you, that I missed half of because I was ambushed by the Red Cross. My blood type is O positive so I guess it’s kind of important for me to donate, but it took an hour and half from start to finish.

After class I met with my advisor to change my major from English Lit to Creative Writing, which I feel is more representative of what I’m studying here. It’s been a long road to get that major change, though, because of the requirements. Creative writing is the English major plus four extra writing workshop classes, and since I didn’t know I wanted to be an English major until the end of my sophomore year, I was at a real disadvantage. I think it’s a testament to the Colby faculty that they were able to sit down and work out what classes I could get to count towards my new major. I don’t know that that would have happened in a bigger school.

I set up my linkedin.com profile. I don’t know if that’s news worthy or not, but it’s a finely tuned machine right now. I even put a portfolio of sorts up there. Check me out, gangsters, I’m kind of a big deal.

Finally, TONIGHT IS THE FIRST OBSERVATION NIGHT FOR MY CLUB. I’m so excited to learn how to use the crazy telescope that we have in the observatory. Tonight we’re going to be able to see the Andromeda Galaxy, Jupiter, and the Orion Nebula. Not bad. And not to jinx it, but as of right now, I can’t see a cloud in the sky.

Later nerds.

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Real Life

I met with Erica Humphrey at the Career Center for the first time this week to get a little insight as to what the hell I am going to do with my life as a post-grad, which everyone I don’t ask keeps reminding me is a reality that is fast approaching. Erica did it too.

She was crazy helpful, giving me lots of websites where I could see job postings, showed me how to get in touch with alumni, stood over me and wagged her finger because my Linkedin profile sucks. I have to fix it but instead I’m writing this blog post. I need a picture for it but my I took my senior portrait this week as well and apparently my face has gotten fatter since freshman year, which makes me a little unwilling to pick something recent. Reasons to procrastinate.

But really, I want to get into advertising creative, which is kind of difficult because you need to have lots of great internship experience to break into an industry that doesn’t have a lot of turnover. Erica suggested I use my final JanPlan wisely and try to get a career-shadowing opportunity or something like that. But I really want to take blacksmithing, and I’m grappling with some serious potential consequence here. Is it possible that I’m jeopardizing my future because I want to hit hot metal with a hammer?

The director of the career center is named Roger, and I have a meeting with him after Thanksgiving break. He worked in advertising for a long time before he came to Colby, so I am going to wait to make a decision until I can at least speak to him. Hopefully it’s not as depressing as my last meeting.

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And then real life was like nah

So I didn’t get nominated for the Watson fellowship. I had my interview on Monday, and I didn’t think that it went bad, but I don’t know. I’m not too upset though, because even though I’ve been on kind of a bender since I found out Tuesday night, I’ve been thinking about what I could have done differently and the answer is, not much. My essay was tight, the project was some real passion, and they laughed at my jokes in the interview. I guess there were just (at least) four projects that the committee thought had a better shot at the national level.

Since that fellowship stuff is off my schedule, I guess Space Club is priority #1. The executive committee (my two friends and I) are having trouble picking a day of the week because all our schedules are completely incompatible. I guess it’s looking like Wednesday nights for now, but who knows. I have to get posters up this week because we are trying to do an observation session next week. I’m trying to do copywriting when I get out of school, so this tags are going to be great – I’ll put up pics when they get printed.

Speaking of advertising, on Monday I’m going down to Boston to do some career center stuff. They got a buss for a bunch of students to go down and do job shadowing/make-awkward-small-talk-with-alumni at PR, marketing, and advertising firms. Given that this school feels like it’s 80% econ majors, I feel like I’m going to be in the minority in that I want to meet the creative types, not the demographics synergy optimization people. That’s a thing, right?

I did have a good interview for something else though (that transition needs work, but this is a blog.) I spoke with the dude who teaches the blacksmithing course over JanPlan and that’s what I’m going to be doing. Be in the forge from 9-4, 4 days a week. So pumped.

And also, one last note about the Watson – I’m still going to do my project. It might not be for a full year, or as thorough as it would be if someone was giving me 25k to do it, but I’m going. I think that’s kind of the point.

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Sup Fellas

That is short for fellowships, not a retrieval of some archaic slang whether meant ironically or otherwise. I have but one thing on my mind, and it weighs heavy on me every day: the Watson Fellowship.

The Watson Fellowship seems almost too good to be real. What the fellows all have in common is passion – what that passion is per person is almost entirely unique. The Watson Fellowship allows for a year of postgraduate travel. Now, let me be clear: that is a full year of out-of-the-United-States-or-your-native-country travel. Like you are not allowed to come back for 365 days and you are completely cultured and an expert on your topic and have spent all the $25,000 that they gave you.

What I found most surprising about this fellowship is that there really is not an end goal. By that I mean, there’s no massive research paper, no book expected to be produced, no constant conference with babysitters. The product is in fact the Watson fellow, who is supposed to be a person of exceptional promise that will benefit humanity as a result of their growth over their year pursuing their passion.

If ya’ll aren’t intellectually salivating, then I have failed as a writer, because there is no opportunity that rivals this. This fellowship is what academics wish for 3 times when approached by a genie or sign away their health to the devil for.

The reason this is burdening me so is that the campus deadline for over 3000 words of application material is September 28th. Gives me about a week, you know? Because I had been looking at the National Competition deadline in November thinking I was fine. Nah. So I apologize to everyone for being super irritable and self absorbed lately, because I want this and need to figure out how to tell Colby and then hopefully the Foundation that I deserve it (only 4 kids get nominated from each school to enter in to the national considerations, and then only 40 kids are chosen.)

I’ll keep you updated.

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Sweeter than Chocolate!

Ask most students who live outside the New England area, and I believe many would agree with me that holidays away from home can be one of the hardest parts of being away at college. As classes were finishing up last week, many students hopped in cars and were able to be home in just a few hours to celebrate Easter weekend with their families. While I had received a lovely Easter care package from home and could not be more excited to see my family who is coming to visit this weekend from Minnesota and Wisconsin, I was lucky enough to be included in a friend’s family Easter celebration and got to experience a bit of New England life by going home with him to New Hampshire.

There is something about seeing school friends in their home life that adds an entirely new dimension to our perceptions of them, and the memories that are made by being together in these settings are that much more special because they have “let us in” and trusted us with another part of their lives. Looking back on freshman year, two of my favorite weekends were spent exploring the North Shore of Boston with one of my hallmates when we went to her house, and visiting another friend in New York City during JanPlan break. This past weekend was no exception—from being able to see where my friend went to high school after hearing so much about it, to meeting some of his friends, to meeting family pets (including over 20 chickens!), to being included in family traditions such as an “egg war” (in which you battle to try and crack each others’ hard boiled eggs, with an eventual winner), I was thoroughly immersed in this lovely family and their New England town and traditions. His family could not have been more welcoming, and his parents fed us amazing homemade food, spoiled me with an Easter basket filled with chocolates and many thoughtful additions, and took the time to talk, laugh, and share their home and family life with me.

Stuffed, well rested, and fully pampered, it took a lot of effort to get in the car to head back to school Sunday night knowing I was coming back to a week full of class and lots of work. However, in addition to the delicious muffins and bags of snacks we were heading back with, I have pictures and memories that will stay with me as a highlight of this year and that will carry me through all the work ahead. I owe a huge thank you to the Moore family as I doubt they fully realize how much it meant to be included in their family when I couldn’t be with my own, and it epitomizes that the Colby community truly does exist past Mayflower Hill!

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