Sometimes, school comes second

Monday through Friday, junior Lauren Glasser is out of her door by 7:45 a.m., works until 5 p.m., goes to class until 10 p.m. – and then it’s straight to the library.

Glasser works for the anti-piracy litigation team of the Recording Industry Association of America. Over the last three years, she has also been a producer’s assistant for CBS’s “The Early Show,” worked for MTV News productions and has been a runner for CBS news coverage of the last presidential campaign and election.

“Coming to GW isn’t just about the academic experience,” Glasser said. “You always think you can’t do it. You have no idea what your limits are until you test them.”

Glasser’s schedule might not be typical, but this mix of work, class and then some isn’t atypical either. At GW, many students aren’t only students. Internship lines on resum?s or contacts garnered from jobs can lead to that dream career, whereas an impressive grade point average doesn’t seem as valuable anymore. For many students, school comes second.

It’s not surprising – a college degree used to be seen as the key to a good job. Now, it’s not enough. Students feel pressure to have a full resum? and a variety of employment experiences in order to make it in the post-college job market. In D.C., GW students are living in the land of internships, for better or worse.

The Career Center reports that 85 percent of students take part in an internship, part-time job or cooperative education program at some point in college.

For senior Stacey Garfinkle, balancing work and school has been a juggling act. In fall 2004, Garfinkle was working with the League of Conservation Voters to propel a grassroots campaign that would elect John Kerry, recruiting other volunteers and interns for the effort, taking 18 credit hours, and coordinating with members of Congress and other political figures as the events director for the College Democrats.

Now, as the president of the College Democrats, she recalls the frantic exhilaration that came from being at work all day in preparation for an election, and running back to campus for a social and cultural history discussion during her lunch break.

“It really speaks to GW that when you walk into class so many of your peers are in business attire, coming from or about to go straight to work,” Garfinkle said.

From working for U.S. Senator John McCain to meeting people such as Oprah and Kid Rock while interning at Belo Broadcasting, junior Shoshana Davis said, “I’ve gotten to do a lot of things because I’ve put myself out there.” Davis works three full days a week, in addition to taking classes.

Sophmore James Zarsadiaz has been a staffer for Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite for a year, and said having a full plate at both work and school can lead to some anxiety. Zarsadiaz said he finds himself thinking about what he needs to do at work while he is at school, and vice versa.

Zarsadiaz said the political field is always in need of interns, so “when they get you, they pile on a lot of work.”

Anne Scammon, the director of student employment and experiential education at the Career Center, said “the learning and development that come from having these opportunities can be extraordinary, and can assist the student in making good career choices.”

“GW students go out and find their own experiences,” she said.

Glasser’s experiences have been well worth the hectic schedule, she said.

“When I come home on Friday nights, sometimes I just stay in by myself, unplug all my phones and conk out for 12 hours,” Glasser said. “Sleep and relaxation are enormous luxuries.”

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