I Am Not a Shark: Thoughts on Cohort CompetitionThis past Monday marked the first week of my last semester of graduate school. I've touched base with my fellow SA grads, and while we're technically not a cohort, our program is small enough to feel like one. It’s funny, because we’re currently in very different places. Some have interviewed, others already accepted full-time positions, and still others haven’t even given a thought to the job search yet.
Around the time of this reunion I learned that a member of my program was hired for the position that I had interviewed for.
Before I touch upon my reaction, let me take you on a journey into the world of (my) young adult development.
During my first semester of graduate school, I remember telling a fellow SA grad that I saw our classmates as competition. She was really horrified. I remember saying something like, Well yeah, they're competition. We're all going to apply for the same jobs at the same time! Let the best man win! Let the fists fly! You know that law school gunner that steals the copies of a reserved library text so her peers can't read it? That was my mind-set. I was out for the kill.
Don't worry, I eventually became a human being. I think my initial mind-set was mostly inspired by fear. I’ve been entirely defiant throughout my journey in higher education. I defied everyone by even applying to college, and then I pursued a dreaded liberal arts degree, and finally I broke all barriers and went to graduate school for something no one’s even heard about. I often feel this pressure to produce a result (namely, a job). I need to prove to everyone that college is a great decision. Don’t listen to the media telling you that college grads can’t get jobs. Don’t listen to your co-workers when they say English majors end up as Starbucks baristas. No wonder I was ready to plow people out of my way.
These “people”, however, are my people. In these two short years we’ve experienced a lot of change together. We’ve faced a lot of obstacles, pressures, and challenges. We’ve celebrated engagements, marriages, internships, classroom successes, and so on. I feel incredibly supported by my little group of SA grads.
So you know what kind of emotion I felt when I learned that my fellow grad got the job I wanted? Pride. I was proud that one of us had made it. The rest of us will make it too.
(And that's the sort of pep talk I'm sure we all needed right now.)