Alumni Column – Quarter Life Crisis Management 101

Chrissy Quirolo '00

I was recently up at Colgate and had the chance to meet with several seniors. Since then, I have stayed in touch with many of you and have noticed a common theme that can be summarized in one word — Stressed.

Even though I graduated from Colgate back in 2000, I feel like I was just in your shoes. This past summer I graduated from business school and faced many of the same challenges you are all experiencing now.

While I don’t fool myself that my advice will quell all your fears and anxiety, I do hope that it will provide some comfort to you. If nothing else, know that many have experienced the “Quarter Life Crisis” before you and we’ve survived to tell the tale. Here is my attempt to synthesize some of my key takeaways from the job search process — the ultimate driver of all senior year related stress.

Five Steps to Help Survive the Job Search:

1. Timing: Students are notoriously obsessed with due dates. This is completely normal, but, you must remind yourself that the job search does not have a due date. Creating artificial deadlines to find a job will only make you crazy. Benchmarking yourself against your friends who sign offer letters in October will not help your cause either. Everyone will find a job in their own time. Whether you sign this fall or next August is insignificant. You can’t start working any sooner. You will get a job. The timing is not important.

2. Networking: My best opportunities thus far have resulted from networking. Networking is a part of life that you can’t run away from, so you might as well start now. Talk to as many people as humanly possible. Expand the Colgate bubble. Don’t allow yourself to be limited by the list of companies that come to campus. You will be amazed by what you can learn from your friends (especially ones at other schools), your friends’ parents, faculty, and alumni. Don’t be intimidated to pick up the phone, but be prepared to ask good questions. The more specific you can be, the more your network will be able to help and lead you in new directions.

3. Gaining Perspective: While I was searching for a job out of b-school, I was told that the average graduate today will likely work for 8 companies during their career. The days of working for the same company for 30 years don’t exist anymore. This is great news for you. This is your first job, not your last. While it is important, you have to keep it in perspective. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t love your first job and you change in a year. Guess what? You’ll be in good company!

4. Moral Support: Remember that you are all going through the same thing right now. You are all stressed – even though some of you may hide it better than others. Reach out to each other and chat about it. A good venting session every once in a while never hurts.

It doesn’t help you or anyone else to act completely in control when you’re not. There is comfort in knowing you are not the only one stressed out. There will be good days and bad days as you go through this process. Everyone will be rejected at least once. You’ll suffer from a bruised ego for a day or two, but it’s not the end of the world. When I was a senior, we used to hang our rejection letters on our doors and laugh as we compared the ridiculousness of some of them. It helps to have a sense of humor about these things.

5. Decision Time: Hopefully everyone will have many choices to decide amongst. My best advice is simply to not settle. Everyone wants the search to be over as quickly as possible, but don’t rush it at the expense of finding what you really want. Have confidence in yourself and stay true to your goals. You are amazingly smart and talented and deserve a fabulous opportunity. As you are surrounded by your peers up in Hamilton, it is easy to forget how you stack up against the outside competition. Build your ego back up and realize what an incredible candidate you are. Don’t sell yourself short! Also, prioritize what is most important to you and stick with it. It is easy to be overly influenced by an attractive signing bonus. Whether it is industry, function, location, or company culture, remember what is most important to you when you are making your final decision and you won’t be led astray. Everyone around you will have an opinion about what you should do, but the decision is ultimately yours. You are the one who has to wake up and go to that job!

Hopefully you will find these five pieces of advice relevant and useful to you during the coming months. While the job search can be overwhelming and stressful, you should view this as an exciting time in your life and embrace the process. I strongly encourage you to take full advantage of the Real World program in January. Many alums will be making the trip up to Hamilton to share their experiences with you. USE US!

Finally, try to relax and enjoy your senior year — I promise it will all work out.