Just a note from a senior
Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, February 1, 2017
I’m sitting in my room fresh from Majors Night and find myself filled with nostalgia for the wide-eyed times of freshman year, as well as more than a little fear for the future of Arts and Letters. Working at the history table, I spent the evening catching people’s eye as they walked past, asking, “Hey, are you interested in history?” then seeing them give me the small-smile-head-shake, and move past.
Obviously I don’t expect everyone to jump with joy at the thoughts of learning about death, destruction, general misery and the inevitable folly of man for four years. However, I did hope to encounter at least a couple of other people like me.
Over the course of the evening, we had a couple dozen kids come talk to us to get information about the major, pick up some literature and ask some questions. The one question they all asked was the one I feared the most: What exactly can you do as a history major after graduation?
I fear this question because, as a second semester senior, I truly do not know. I have no idea as of yet what I’m going to be doing once May 21 has come and gone. And I have recently discovered that I am totally ok with that. The thing is, however, most Notre Dame kids are not.
I watched my Mendoza friends scramble around for the entire first semester of junior year, going from interview to interview, knowing that if they nailed the “right one,” they could land that crucial internship that would pave the way for them to full-time, post-grad employment. For the duration of “internship season,” as one of my finance friends so scarily called it, everyone had a crazed look in their eye. I looked vaguely at internship options, then decided to wait to see if anything I really liked came along. Eventually it did in the form of the Berlin summer program.
This past summer, I opened Snapchat every day to see everyone and their mother working in Chicago or New York, wearing suits and kitten heels, spending their days in various skyscrapers. At the same time, I was running around Berlin taking a couple of classes, practicing my German, immersing myself in Berlin’s amazing culture and researching for my senior thesis in the archives of the German Foreign Office. That seemed much more interesting to me than sitting in a cubicle staring at a spreadsheet five days a week.
Don’t get me wrong — if you actively enjoy learning something like accounting, then you should definitely study it and try to get an internship — and subsequent job — at an accounting firm. But if you love reading and writing, then you should pursue it. Study history, study English, study classics. If you took a foreign language in high school and enjoyed it, then study it. Get a summer language abroad grant or participate in a summer study abroad program like Berlin, Toledo or Moscow. Study what you love now, while you’re surrounded by amazing professors and inspiring classmates. You have plenty of time to be bored later in life; take these four years to be interested, engaged and — more often than you might think — astounded.
You don’t have to listen to me. After all, I’m just a senior with no idea what she’s going to be doing in six months. But if you’ve read this far, at least ask yourself this question: When you look back on your time at this amazing university, are you going to remember more than just your trips to Michiana’s hottest nightclub? Will you be able to recall fascinating classes, professors or even reading assignments? I’m a history and German double major with no idea what lies ahead other than an affirmative answer to those questions.
Don’t let your fear of the unknown prevent you from studying something you truly love, and definitely don’t let pressure from your parents or peers prevent you from making the most out of your short time here. Try not to overlook the College of Arts and Letters so easily. After all, there is a lot of meaning behind their slogan, “Study everything, do anything.”
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.