Category Archives: After Colby

The Last Post

I suppose it would be more apropos to write my final blog post for insideColby on the day of graduation. However, final pay entries are tonight, so as Weezy says, I guess I have to let money talk for me*. Granted, I’ve written all that I could write about Colby so I guess I’ll just leave you all with a cliche list of things you should do at Colby. Sing! Run! Dance! Study! Eat in Foss!

All kidding aside, the one thing I wish I did more often was go to the Arboretum. Colby is a little bubble. It’s sort of just like a big prep school, which is great in some ways, but not great in others. One of those things is that you get stuck inside the day-to-day: study, eat, study, sleep, party or play sports, sleep, study, repeat.

There isn’t really a city nearby – going to Portland is pretty much infeasible when it’s an hour and half said and done. Therefore, you’re much more likely to go to Sugarloaf or just grab Chipotle at Augusta.

So if you’re nowhere near a city, how do you keep yourself refreshed and rejuvenated when the daily grind is so easy to get stuck in? Just wake up. Put on some sneakers. Go to the arboretum and marvel at pure nature. There are rivers and paths and streams and a little bog and a pine tree section and a section full of ferns and things growing and living on all of them, unless it’s the winter in which case you can stop by woods on a snowy evening. If you know it’s a full moon coming on, you can go into the central part of the arboretum and watch the moon rise above the patch in the trees the river has created and find yourself in a pitch black forest, suddenly illuminated.

I’ve had all these experiences and I wish I’d had more. You can always study. You can always have a drink. You will have time enough to hang out with your friends. So spend some time alone if you can because most likely you’ll be living with someone almost all the time, sharing the same bedroom, bathroom and study space for the next four years.  Turns out alone time that isn’t studying time is as precious as all the NYT authors say it is, b/c college goes by oh so quickly!

So that’s it. I did everything I wanted to at Colby, I only wish I’d spent a bit more time wandering by myself in nature. And editing my insideColby blogs, but hey, you can’t have everything.

*Lil Wayne, world-renowned rapper

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The Last Exam

Finishing my last exam was nothing like I could have ever expected. Years of blood, sweat and tears. Minutes of anticipation. Gallons of coffee. Tens of rented Macbook chargers. Alas, there was no sigh of relief or lifting of weight off my shoulders. I have a sinus infection or allergies or something that have been stuffing me up all week so I’m still in pain. TMI? Most likely. But what a lovely spring day.

Finishing college probably just hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s a nice feeling to not have any obligations for at least a couple weeks though. (Besides these blogs! whoops). Soon enough, I’ll be graduating and heading off into the real world. The bubble of Colby must be broken forth from.

But back to the topic of my final exam. I think I might have rushed this one as I got out a little faster than I should have, hun. The anticipation to be done definitely made me jump the gun. Oh well – hopefully it doesn’t ruin the rest of my life. Of course, what if it did? That would be some serious you know what. Could you imagine if rushing your last college exam ruined your life? You got a D+ and couldn’t walk at graduation and then your employer fired you and had already made you sign a non-compete. That would kind of stink.

Anyway, at some point you’d have to forgive me for wanting to get back outside right? There’s nothing quite like a sunny day in May. So excuse me for rushing this, but I’ve got to get going. There are some people waiting for me outside.

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A Fine Beta Kappa Speech pt. 2

Here is part 2..

For the sake of the media, the college’s rankings and the parents of the kids applying to Colby, it is difficult, too idealistic and improbable to assume we can cast off all numbers and pretend we’re a Montessori school. But, I think we can take the example that another famed venture capitalist, Peter Thiel enumerates about Google – they pretend they’re just another ad-tech company competing in a giant sea, but their real focus is on an entirely different level.

A distinction like this can allow Colby to truly focus on what is actually important – creating an environment that sets their hearts on flame. That means seeking out the kids that may not be going straight into finance or med school orand find the kids that are different, and have varying interests and then give them the right environment here at Colby, so that in their 4 years here they can create and build a body of knowledge and skills that will prepare them to live a successful and inventive life. This means that it should come to no surprise that a computer science major is on the lacrosse team, or that a football player is a 4.0 student, or that someone on the Woodsmen team dresses like a prep.

The fact of the matter is that there will be plenty of kids who will continue going to work at banks and plenty of 2300 SAT bio majors that will continue getting into Colby. It will continue, I promise, and the school can still take part in the arms race on the Forbes list with other ivy league schools and small liberal arts colleges. This is okay. In this we can pretend to be a similar, but different school and manage to compete on an entirely different level.

I firmly believe that the outcome a liberal arts college should aspire to is not just create another good looking number. No matter what the buzzword of the day is, a college like Colby should remain steadfast in its desire to create complete human beings, not just statistics. And if you don’t believe me, perhaps a quote from Tom Peters, former McKinsey partner and management guru will help put everything in perspective: “I was at a dinner party recently with a guy who’s probably one of the top ten finance people in the world. At one point he said, “Do you know what the biggest problem is with big-company CEOs? They don’t read enough.”

That that is the biggest complaint from a multibillionaire investor to a former management consultant tells us that through all the noise, the focus of the liberal arts college perhaps does lie in its history: teaching the liberal arts.

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A Fine Betta Kappa Speech

Today, I want to share the first draft of my Phi Beta Kappa speech for the annual speech contest. I will split it into two parts and if I continue into the next round, I’ll be sure to let you know my edits because everybody loves edits. So here goes:

 

“Colleges… can only highly serve us when they aim not to drill, but to create and set the hearts of their youth on flame.” At least that is what Ralph Waldo Emerson stated in a speech to the Phi Beta Kappa Society in 1837. The speech was aptly titled The American Scholar and would soon become the society’s literary magazine title as well. But we are here to discuss the outcomes to which a liberal arts college should aspire, not to have a history lesson. Or is that not the case?

 

I think we can all agree with Emerson’s statement that a college should seek to give its students both the ability and the inspiration to create. And yet at the same time, the very question we are here to discuss is asking about outcomes – whether jobs, graduate admissions, or fellowships. On one hand, we know have Emerson’s seemingly immeasurable ideals, and on the other hand, we have, and Colby is not alone in this, an innate desire to objectively measure how we are doing. So while it’s great to hear from intellectual A to Fareed Zakaria that the students are learning to think critically, the students also need jobs.

I would like to suggest that the outcome is not an either or question, but a both and question. Both and? That sounds like English Theory, not a practical solution, you might be saying. A-ha! Exactly. But how do we blend practical job needs per se with theoretical ideals?

In an essay on start up ideas, the venture capitalist and Y Combinator founder, Paul Graham quotes Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance saying, “You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally,” he then follows up that quote by saying, “empirically, the way to have good start up ideas is to become the sort of person who has them.”

Once again, I think we can all agree that painting a perfect painting or having a good start up is an outcome for graduates that a liberal arts college would be happy aspiring to. But then again the problem with that is, will a famous artist be measurable at 23. Will the founder of the next ground-breaking technology be a billionaire before 30?

The outcome that we keep hoping liberal arts colleges will aspire to is one that is that cannot be measured in the near term. There is no statistic to tell you which accepted students will create a groundbreaking technology. But the statistic telling us how many students are admitted per year and how many get jobs at bulge bracket banks does exist.

Pt. 2 tomorrow…..

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Finding a Job

Finding a job. What does that mean? I am writing to you now at point B, where I have decided, if possible, my first job out of college will be copywriting at an advertising firm. How I got to point B from point A is probably far off in the distance if you, the reader, truly are a prospective student, but nonetheless, perhaps you will remember this blog post when you find yourself in need of solace. I have no idea what the larger picture of my career is and honestly, I’m not sure if anyone does. Some people seem to head out on one path and do it forever, but I feel like that world has changed. And it’s pretty scary. Knowing you can do pretty much anything you want to do from Colby if you actually want to do it might be possible is actually constricting. Too much choice is paralyzing and exhausting.

After many flips and flops, I have arrived at what I want next. The journey from point A has been littered with ideas of finance, start-ups, and even letting my imagination run wild the hard sciences and tech world. What does that all mean? The second you open the door to one world you find yourself in a world filled with a thousand more doors. You keep opening doors and saying “Yes, please!” or “ehhhh, no thanks…” You’ll find more no thanks on both sides of the equation, but somewhere down the line you’ll figure it out. I know I have. I think…maybe not. We’ll see.

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Gonna Soak Up The Sun

One of my constant pet peeves about Colby is that the month and a half prior and the three months post winter solstice are the days and weeks leading up to and following, well, the winter solstice.  For those not in the know, or the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs on December 21/22 and is the shortest day of the year. However, because Colby is so far up in the north hemisphere, you can walk out of class on any given day between November and April and wonder just how short the shortest day of the year could possibly be when the sun is already setting at 3 o’clock.

Unfortunately, most of New England also happens to be pretty far up in the northern hemisphere, and having grown up in Connecticut, my life has pretty much been severely limited to the northern hemisphere. So I guess one of my pet peeves with life as I know it is the following ratio: the amount of sunlight I need to maintain a happy existence/the amount of sunlight I receive, both through life and at Colby.

At Colby, this ratio leans towards a consistently minimal amount of sunlight received. Now, I’ve yet to make it through calculus, but rather then delving into the equation, I can infer that I better be taking my Vitamin D IU 1,000-10,000 capsules a couple times a week or tough times await. C’est la vie, or so they say. Although I do have to wonder if that utterance came from the French Rivieria where the Vitamin D levels flow like the wine that flows like water.

But I digress, I speak of winter solstice because this one of the year 2014 is special. I will be in Florida on the shortest day of the year and it will be 80 degrees, not Kelvin, but Farenheit! Wahoo! Getting out of the Colby bubble sure can be relieving. Now I know things just got a little choppy, but I’m just practicing for the waves I’ll be able to swim in. And hopefully I’ll be absorbing enough rays to carry me through to May so I can valiantly save the day, fight the break of dusk, come tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll be gone (from Colby, for a few weeks).

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Teaching For America

This evening I attended a panel hosted by the Colby Club “Students For Education Reform” on Teach For America. The series of events that led up to my attendance was both somewhat convoluted and yet supposedly not too out of the ordinary.

I have always found the thought of teaching to be exciting. I love interacting with people, talking about the books I’m reading, or now with technology (it’s the future) podcasts and sharing exciting and interesting information. Over the years I have seen a few kids go into Teach For America, and everytime I hear they have chosen to do so, I think about how great it would be to do something impactful – teaching kids who may not have had the same opportunities I was lucky enough to be given.

Of course, at this juncture, every criticism of TFA can and will be launched. I am young, have not taught, am not an education major, and perhaps my neo-liberal outlook is an unacceptable forcing of some agenda or other. And perhaps these criticisms are fair, but over the past few weeks, I have had a chance to really learn about the program and to be honest, at the very least, there are passionate people who have seen a problem and are doing their very best with the data they have to solve the broken education system in our own backyard.

The panel this evening consisted of one former TFA teacher and current TFA employee, one former TFA student and future TFA teacher, and the girl who runs Students for Education Reform. There were some critical questions that dealt with the issues I just brought up above and the answers were well-rounded and of course stressed what TFA is and what TFA isn’t.

I personally can say that after hearing the questions, which concerned budgets, lack of experience, teacher turnover and the like that I will still be applying. With a big mission to improve education, TFA’s goal seems to be to make people interested in improving the lives of children and lifelong education, and that includes both lifelong teachers and yet many more people outside the classroom in policy, healthcare, nutrition and resources that also create a student education beyond just sitting in a class. There will always be critiques, but as perhaps a lone blogger voice, it appears TFA is aimed in the right direction.

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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.

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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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