Making choices comes with a certain amount of anxiety. We spend four years under the label of student, a label that implies we could be anything, but have not committed to anything yet. At one point or another, be it four years or six or ten, we give up that label and begin making choices about who we will become. But making choices doesn’t mean giving up on everything else, nor does it mean we’re stuck with the paths we begin down.
I’m a 2014 graduate and have recently taken a job with a consulting firm here in Chicago. They’re stationed out of a beautiful building in the west loop. Not one of the glass and steel high rises, but a building with exposed brick and original beams. I have loved my time meeting, interviewing and training with members of the company. I made a very conscious choice to join Duo Consulting, but it was not the choice I thought I would be making four years ago. I will be the new Inbound Marketing Coordinator, meaning I’ll be working with clients on strategies about how to better market their business, how to create better online content, and how to write better content. I’ll also be looking at the companies’ website analytics and reporting back to them on how the strategies are working.
I met Michael (the Duo CEO) and Ariel at the SoC and Medill career fair (yes, career fairs can work). I had entered Northwestern as an engineer, transferred into Weinberg to pursue Physics, then the school of Communication for Film and playwriting, and finally back to Weinberg for a degree in writing from the English department. I’m not the best at making clear-cut and long-term decisions, and consulting was not high on my list of potential future careers.
At the time I had several applications lingering at places like The Poetry Foundation, Greywolf Press, and Pearson Publishing. I also had some informal plans to move out to New York or Los Angeles or even back home to Ohio. But Michael and Ariel amazed me with their intelligence, knowledge of the industry, and commitment to the company. It was clear that this would not be a company where I would be bored, so I gave them my resume expecting nothing of it.
Later that same day Michael met me out in the hallway. He explained the job to me in greater depth, and he asked me if I would be interested in a full-time position. I was floored, and wasn’t sure what to say. He asked me to think about it. A week later we sat down in his office for a formal interview. We talked more about the job, but mainly we talked about the type of worker I am, and the type of learner. We discussed my interests, and specifically what they were looking for in a full time candidate. Then I toured the office. I met the interns, and the other company that shares our office space.
In the days that followed, as I waited to hear back about their decision, friend of mine told me—after I had expressed some concern about my commitment to my new job—that a new challenge will be great, but if it doesn’t work it doesn’t have to be the rest of your life. Six months down the road, if you hate where you are, you don’t have to stay. We’re young. We’re recent grads. We’re still learning.
Even though I’ve accepted the job offer doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my other pursuits. My first professional play has just extended its five-week run to eight. I’m developing a new play, soon to be pitched. And I’m still polishing my senior thesis.
Several weeks ago I had an exit interview for my writing sequence, and I was asked what are your three goals for the following year. With all the excitement of applications and graduation I hadn’t thought much about this, so I chose the things that felt the most important. I said that I wanted to do an excellent job with my new career. I wanted to commit fully to a new challenge. I also wanted to continue writing every day, if only for a half hour. Finally I wanted to stay in touch with all those friends I’d made in college, friends who are undoubtedly feeling the same way I am now.
Jon Gleason is a recent graduate of the School of Communication, and majored in RTVF and English (Creative Writing). He now works for Duo Consulting in Chicago.