The Accolades of Whippersnappers

Today I joined a seminar on Career Assessment and during that seminar the participants were each asked to come up with a significant accomplishment to discuss with a partner. We were instructed that the accomplishment didn’t necessarily have to do with something we did at a paying job. That cleared the way for me because, as often as I’ve accomplished things in my jobs, the one achievement I look back on with more pride than any other is something I did in college, not at a paying gig. I decided to talk about my senior project at Bradford. And when I did talk about it, the look I brought upon my partner’s face was one of astonishment and envy. This woman, definitely older than me, was impressed, and I had to take a second to ponder the significance of this.

At Bradford every graduating student was required to complete a senior project. The senior project was supposed to be a major intellectual effort, something that encompassed everything you’d learned in four years (or however many years you’d been there). As a writing and theatre major I saw only one option before me: to write and direct a play, to launch a production from the ground up.

The play of course, was The People vs. Jesus Christ. I wrote it, directed it, and designed the lights for it, in addition to running the marketing campaign, and dealing with the budget (or lack thereof) and some rather precarious casting situations. I fought with my readers to stage the play I wanted to stage while still trying to take some of their sagely advice into consideration.

A senior project was a huge undertaking and there aren’t any of my fellow Bradford grads who didn’t see it as such. What’s interesting to me is that I don’t think enough of us really take into consideration the kind of work we put into these things. Our senior projects are worthy of more than a small mention underneath the education section of our resumes. They were full-time jobs for a year. Why do we not treat them as such?

Jimmy and Larsen produced stage plays of their own. Tori and Monica and Stacey all conducted big psychology projects. We put as much work into those projects as we put into any job we might have now. Maybe more. And when I began describing to my partner today what went into my senior project I saw that.

I think I might have even made her feel like her accomplishments were somehow less special just by how detailed I got. She looked amazed and she asked me how old I was and just sort of beamed at how much potential and skill seemed to be oozing out of me. I told her how I wanted to use the senior project as an example of how I could apply the hard work and experience I’ve gained in other arenas into a more creative job. She thought that was a great idea.

And it got me thinking. I graduated with a bunch of talented folks. And the people who graduated the couple of years before me and the year after me, and those who would have graduated in the years after that had they not shut the school down, they were all great too. And I think any employer would be Goddamn lucky to have any one of us in their office doing our thing.

Be sure to remember that in this shitty economy, all you Bradfordites. You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And gosh-darn it, people like you.

And for those of you who didn’t graduate at Bradford, and for those of you who are still going to school… don’t ever look back on what you accomplish as an undergraduate with disdain. There are people out there who either didn’t go to college, or who wasted away their college experience who look at us, who look at the young and think, “God what I wouldn’t give to have what they have. What I wouldn’t give to have accomplished what they have accomplished at so young an age.”

Just remember that.

I’m gonna go turn my soapbox in for tonight.