Looking Back: A Graduate's Graduated Perspective

By Killian Walsh '14

Post-graduation anxieties are all too common among today’s students who, like never before, are entering a job market that neither wants nor needs them. As a bit of solace, and perhaps to offer some inside advice, I sat down with Ally R. of 2013’s graduating class to get her perspective on transitioning from college to the real world.

KW: What are your first reactions to the post-grad experience?

AR: I should have been prepared for that. Well, I was really bored for about two weeks, going home to Nevada to see my parents, my family before I moved here. I stayed much longer than I had wanted to; ran out of things to do, people to see, I don’t really keep in touch with people I went to highschool with, so I was just there to be with my family. So it was all very stagnant because I couldn’t, like, actively look for jobs in Chicago while I lived in Reno.

KW: What’s the biggest difference between the ‘real world’ and Bennington?

AR: I swear a lot. I swear so much because I [knew] no babies and no old people [at Bennington], and then I got into the real world, and really shocked my mom--who also swears a lot. And it was in public at dinner with my family, and I didn’t even notice it. Also, scheduled eating is not a thing in the real world. A lot of people talk shit on the dining hall, but I’ve always defended the dining hall. I think there’s always something you can find to eat or make at the dining hall, and enjoy every meal. Those are two big differences: swearing and timed meals. Also, I’m still finding things to be stressed about. There are more subtle differences. I’m not used to having to interact with people that aren’t Bennington people, like forcing myself to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t like all the same things that I do, and isn’t super interesting and talented.

KW: How has it been moving to a new city?

Ally R. '13

AR: I’ve just been here one day. I mean, I grew up in a small town, I think smaller than Bennington, and I lived there my entire life, then went into Bennington--another small town--and I hadn’t been to an actual, real city until my freshman year I went to Boston one weekend, and it was pretty terrifying. Where I grew up there was no public transit, and I lived kind of far away from everything. Now I’m so enthused because I’ve got the CTA. I love trains.

KW: Are you where you thought you’d be your freshman year?

AR: No. I didn’t really have any plans my freshman year, but I definitely did not think I would end up in a city. Looking back, there’s no alternative that I could think of in my memory that I was like, ‘Oh yeah, in five years I’ll be in this place’. I didn’t want to go home, that was never an option. I did consider, for a while, staying for the summer and working as a bartender in Lake Tahoe, which most of my family has done. I would’ve made a lot of money for sure, but I would have hated it, being in the middle of nowhere. But I think with the people I know from Bennington spread out across the country, I’ve got places to go, yeah, which is really nice.

KW: If you could give three pieces of advice to freshman Ally, what would they be?

AR: Number one, about graduating specifically, I should have told my family that I was not going to hang out with them at all graduation weekend, because I wanted to be near my friends. And I kind of felt bad about that, but I know they’re understanding, but I maybe should have made that more clear. Tell your parents you don’t want to hang out with them, because you’ll get to hang out with them later. [Two], if you’re not happy with your advisor, do not hesitate to change them. Have a good advisor, that’s important. [Three], expect to be disappointed about housing. And I have one thing to say, to freshmen out there, freshmen in general: if you feel uncomfortable being in the same class with people you made out with, you’re gonna have a bad time. So get over it. And don’t be a dick! I’m not saying don’t do it, just don’t be awkward about it. Because then everyone’s gonna have a bad time.

KW: Words of advice for seniors about to engage in post-grad-dom?

AR: I personally would have started my senior work earlier. But that’s just me.

KW: Any Bennington regrets?

AR: I waited until a day before graduation to do my senior reflection essay. Not submitting a list of regrets is a regret. I kind of regret not living in any other houses, but I probably would have hated it. As much as I love Woolley, I was very ‘first street’. Maybe branching out more would’ve been good for me, but I was happy where I was. A handful of classes I regret taking. I regret not taking a literature class. One regret--a list, a bucket list--was not breaking into a CAPA apartment and taking a bath. I’m not saying I would have broken into someone’s apartment, while they were living there, but while they were unoccupied I would have done it.

The interview broke momentarily for an involved discussion about Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and the process he used to adopt and discard his various names.

KW: If you could pick four new Field Work Terms, what would they be?

AR: I did not expect a Field Work Term question.

1) On campus

2) Something rigorously scientific

3) Anywhere but Indiana

4) Four years of working with Fat Dawg

For an elaboration of who this ‘Fat Dawg’ is, and how he relates to Field Work Term, stay tuned to the BFP when the article is released later this summer.

KW: Given the chance to room with two Bennington staff members in their early twenties, who would you choose?

AR: John Umphlett and David Norman

KW: What are you most nervous about in your newly adult life?

AR: Debt!

KW: What are you most excited about in your newly adult life?

AR: Paying off my debt.

KW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

AR: Hopefully a grad program in aerospace engineering.

KW: Ten?

AR: Definitely not a mother, and ideally working for a space agency or a commercial spaceflight company.

KW: Plan for the imminent apocalypse?

AR: Well, guess it’s time to make one!

KW: Anything you’re particularly excited about this summer?

AR: Getting a job, an apartment, learning to code Python, and building a synth.

KW: Fuck, Marry, Kill: Thomas Jefferson, Aretha Franklin, Georges Seurat

AR: Fuck: Aretha; Marry: Jefferson; Kill: Georges

KW: Describe, in a word, post graduation

AR: Uncomfortable

The interview originally went on for much longer, and covered a range of other subjects, most notably Ally’s incredible longing for the friends she made at Bennington, but in the interest of time the piece has been shortened. Also, Ally requested a shout-out to Jiaying Liu.