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Dilemma: Internship or retail?

Dear reader, welcome back to the chaos. Since the last time you’ve read a word written by me, the temperature has dropped to cardigan and corduroy weather. Not only that, but we’ve begun our approach to midterm season. It can be daunting to head into midterms every year, even though we somehow manage it every year. I’m feeling a bit confident in my midterms this year, but the surrounding context is troubling me, and I might want some advice.

I am currently working three jobs, two on campus and one off-campus. I have been offered an awesome opportunity in the community of South Bend to be able to help teach students art. This is big. If you don’t know me personally, I want to be a teacher and I am currently a Visual Arts major. You would think I would drop everything for this opportunity, no? You’re absolutely on the right track. See, if I had the money, I would devote all my time to it. But that is not the case. I am currently trying to figure out how to pay for school during the semester and still haven’t gotten great at it. It’s not easy. Even with the three jobs I have, saving more next semester is not easy. So here is my dilemma: do I leave one of my jobs to keep the internship? 

I am currently a super-senior/junior, a dynamic that I have not really come to fully understand and neither has most of the Arts department here at Holy Cross, but we’re riding the wave. As part of the Holy Cross College experience, every student is required to complete an internship. As a past education major, I wouldn’t have had a problem with this because my student teaching would have covered this requirement. But after switching majors, I am left to fulfill the requirement. And here lies the issue: I am ready to graduate. The last five years have been great, but I want to experience the real world. Mind you, I will miss the Bend and the way college has afforded me awesome memories, but home is calling my name. Graduate studies are also calling. The dynamic of also being a 22, almost 23-year-old in undergraduate studies is another conversation we can have. But with this internship, I would most likely quit my retail job. 

Retail has been a part of my life for the last four years. It is a part of my personality at this point. I love seeing people at every shift and love the things they are walking out with. I help kids get ready for back to school, or help wedding parties and even prom-posals come springtime. But the smiles and infectious energy can’t seem to keep me there either. I wish I could say that the environment from last summer, when I started at my current retail job, was the same. My favorite staff members have left and I am the only one left. My manager, the person that got me my job and kept me there, has found a new position doing the things she wanted to do. I can’t be mad at her, if anything I actually still talk to her and tell her everything about my life and congratulate her on her own path too. The discount will be missed but I know that there are other avenues to take. 

See, I know I should quit. And I think it would behoove me to do so, but what to do with all the time I have? Not to suffer too badly from main character syndrome, but what would I be if my hyper-fixation wasn’t working? In a very far-off way, this feels like a break-up with someone that you’ve fallen out of love with. I usually would default to a Taylor Swift song to help me get through this, but I can’t pinpoint one to figure this whole mess out. If I could find one close to what is going on right now it would be something off of Red (Taylor’s Version). We’re about the same age, going through a breakup and just feeling all the young adult feelings. I want to run and hide again and again because of this whole situation, but I know that by the end of this I will get 1989. I can’t wait for my pop rebrand, my squad era and an iconic fashion era of striped shirts and miniskirts. Here’s to the upcoming week; may we all get our essays in on time, our homework done without too much stress and a couple of iced-black-tea-add-espressowith-oatmilk-vanilla-and-apple-crisp-syrup this week from LaFun or AveBrew. 

So, what should I do?

Gabriel B. Ibarra is a Chicago native currently attending Holy Cross College majoring in Visual Arts — Studio Track — with a minor in Elementary Education. If not crying to any of Taylor Swift’s re-recordings, you can find them somewhere in the tri-campus causing chaos with laughs, pointed jokes and one of many emotional support water bottles in hand, or leading Holy Cross College’s First Generation Club as the vice-president. Learning to write for a newspaper is harder than expected, so they can be contacted on Twitter @gbenito11 or via email at gibarra@hcc-nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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What I’ll carry with me

If you ever happen to see me walking around campus this year, there’s an incredibly high chance you will also notice my 40-ounce water bottle. 

It’s actually kind of hard to miss. Aside from how large the bottle is, it’s also a bright mint green and shows off my favorite stickers (with more on the way from Redbubble). 

I think the thing that sticks out the most about this water bottle is that I have to hold it in my hand. My large green friend will not fit into the side pocket of my backpack, no matter how much I try.

So I carry my water bottle with me everywhere — whether I’m in class at Saint Mary’s, walking up and down The Avenue to get to Notre Dame or sometimes off campus to my field placement. As any large water bottle owner knows, you feel the added weight of the bottle, in addition to everything else in your backpack.

But you learn to adapt to the extra weight in your hands. If you start to walk away without picking the bottle up, you know right away that it’s not with you. You realize what you actually carry with you every day. 

My vision of what college would be has drastically changed when I moved in around this time three years ago. At some points during my time in college, I have been overwhelmed by the things I’ve lost to the pandemic. But in turn, I have already gained more than I would ever imagine — my best friends, The Observer and the students I have taught in South Bend. 

And while I still have another year before I’m done, I know the things I will carry with me after I graduate. 

To the first-years still settling into the tri-campus, I’m definitely not the first to tell you the next four years will go by in an instant. 

When I moved a few weeks ago, I sat in my room alone and thought about all the things I would do for the last time this year. The thought of everything I loved in this place ending was terrifying. Then I thought about all of what lies ahead for me. 

I have been lucky enough to discover what direction I want to take my life by being involved in the tri-campus. I know what college experiences — good and bad — will shape me for the rest of my life. 

So embrace all of these new parts of college. Find your way out of your room. Talk to that person who you might be afraid to introduce yourself to. Get off campus and explore the South Bend community. Don’t change yourself to fit other people’s expectations. 

Fill your bottle with the things that will sustain you — long after you leave the tri-campus. 

Genevieve Coleman

Genevieve is an Assistant Managing Editor. Contact her at gcoleman01@saintmarys.edu