Op-Ed: What we wish we had known

The following pieces were written by former Hatchet opinions editors, contributing opinion editors and senior columnists, who all graduated from GW at least a year ago. They share advice and what they wish they had known during their time at the University.

Patrick Rochelle

Opinions editor, Volume 109 (2012-13)
Associate at High Lantern Group, D.C.

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

The hardest part about graduating is deciding what to do after. Once the parties are over and the plastic chairs dotting the National Mall are hidden away for another year, you’re left with the ever-present, painful question: What next?

The good news is that the possibilities are endless. You could start a business, join the military, become a banker, move home, write a book, teach, travel or even get another degree.

And yet at the same time, it’s hard not to feel a little cheated. For years, your family and mentors encouraged you to be many different things at once: a writer, athlete, math whiz, chess champion, scientist and artist.

It was standard practice to double dip – to experiment and try out a range of options. And then suddenly, you have to pick one. You have to be something. You realize choosing a major was a small hill compared to the Mount Everest of picking a career.

So, after all that, my advice is pretty simple: Pick something and run with it. Throw yourself in headfirst. Embrace it, no matter what it is.

Show up early. Leave late. Stay busy. And remember that you are a work in progress with many years of self-discovery still ahead.

Lyndsey Wajert

Opinions editor, Volume 107 (2010-11)
Contributing opinions editor, Volume 106 (2009-10)
Program officer at The International Center for Journalists, D.C.

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

It can be very difficult to stay positive during the job search. If you have something lined up for the week after Commencement, congratulations! If you don’t, congratulations anyway! This is a time for you to discover more about yourself. You’ll be tested in many ways. Maybe you’ll have to stick to a tight budget or hone the craft of writing a cover letter. You’ll learn from both. Maybe you’ll opt to continue your education, or take the time to travel. If you’re able to do either, do it.

If you’re like me and want to go into the working world as soon as possible, try making a list of jobs you could do and aspire to do, and apply to all of them. Follow up after interviews, ask questions, make noise. But try not to get down on yourself if options are limited. If you have done the best you can at GW and rely on the fantastic network of peers, professors and former internship colleagues that GW allows you to have, then you will land something – maybe even your dream job.

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Doug Cohen

Hatchet senior columnist, Volume 109 (2012-13)
Hatchet contributing opinions editor, Volume 108 (2011-12)
Development assistant at Organizing for Action, Chicago

Do something different once in awhile. For some, that might mean traveling the world – for others, it may be talking to a stranger in a park. For me, it was moving to Chicago after graduation and experiencing a new city. What I’ve found thus far is that it’s important to remember you cannot be content with your vision of the world, or else you will fall behind. If you force yourself to do something different – no matter how small – it will push you along a path of continued learning and growth.

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

Annu Subramanian

Senior columnist, Volume 109 (2012-13)
Opinions editor, Volume 108 (2011-12)
Editorial assistant at The New Yorker, New York City.

Dear graduates, congratulations! I hope your last few days on campus are spent nostalgically, drunkenly and deliberately. I remember when people talked about the “real world,” it was never really explained, just defined in terms of what it was not: college. The real world was all the stuff that was on the other side of Commencement. But you guys seem pretty real to me and Commencement seems like a psychic chapter-change. Now might be a good time to cut the bullshit from your life. The more you plan out your days, the more satisfied you’ll be, which will also make you feel less like you’re competing with fellow graduates. And while you’re cutting the bullshit, get rid of this mythical idea of “the real world.” Regina Spektor said, “The future – it’s here. It’s bright. It’s now.” Now that is real.

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