Dare to Dream: Embracing the Unknown

Many Colgate students in 2009 are probably members of “IDK.” No, it is not a new fraternity or sorority on campus. It is the “I don’t know” club. Many seniors are not sure which job they will have by the summer or which graduate school will accept them. Hundreds of juniors, sophomores and first-year students are wondering which internships to pursue before next fall.

To assist you with your future, friends, relatives and professors are giving you all kinds of advice: talk to alumni, go there, apply for this, do that… You just want to focus on studying and going out with your friends. (Procrastination, of course, can be a lot of fun.) But, you mumble to yourself, “What is next?”

The answer, you hope, is a simple list of choices – sort of like the course catalogue. That user-friendly guide is not available. But fortunately you have the rare chance to take advantage of this amazing moment.

Wait a second. Aren’t we in a recession? Aren’t companies firing and graduate applications skyrocketing? Yes, yes and yes.

That means now is the time to do something unique. Do something you never would have done if Lehman Brothers were still solvent, if grad schools were still accepting by the dozens and if internships were still handed out to college students with ease.

However, in this economy, the worst since your grandparents were young, opportunities in emerging markets are growing, the U.S. government is ramping up and niche industries are continuing to add jobs, especially in technology.

So I dare you. I dare you to pursue the intriguing opportunity instead of taking the typical approach. Combine optimism and hard work with my dare, and you have a great solution for the uncertainty of the IDK club. This mix will help to generate interesting situations:

Go to China, a country in Latin America or India for the summer or for your first job.

Learn the language and work hard to maintain your skills. You will become a hot prospect for employment not only in that country but also in the U.S. The foreign perspectives and abilities you gain will turn into lifelong possibilities in an increasingly globalized economy.

Volunteer for a non-profit, work for a political campaign or intern in government at the state or Federal level. In any case, you will meet lots of people, develop skills and establish a view on a new career.

Start a business or join forces with an entrepreneur who has a new idea. Who knows? You could be your own boss or a part of the next wave of technology.

So consider freaking out your friends, relatives and professors by embracing the dare and saying the following:

“I am moving to India” — or — “I am going to work at a non-profit” — or — “I am starting my own business.”

It will be an unbelievable experience that will put you — the IDK club member — on a new path. All you have to do is accept my dare.