The Nostalgics

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Though I’m only two weeks into the school year, I can say without a doubt that senior year is a TOTALLY different experience. I remember as a junior being warned that this fall would feel strange, that I would have “one foot in college, and one already out the door” – while I spent all summer hoping this wouldn’t be true (I’m in major denial that this is my last year…), I’ve been surprised by the degree to which my time so far has been defined by tasks like finding a job and figuring out my senior thesis. During shopping week, I spent as much (if not more) time at the Office of Career Services or at employer information sessions as I did actually in class; this weekend, my “to-do” list includes more “real-world” items than it does school-related ones. It’s definitely a strange mindset to be in, but one that most seniors end up sharing at one point during their final year at Harvard.

Why am I looking for jobs in September, you might ask? Why bother thinking about such things nine months before I’m slated to graduate, and a full year before I would want to be starting work? Those are both excellent questions, and I’m still a little shocked that this whole process starts up so early. Seniors go through “recruiting” during their fall semester, which is exactly what it sounds like: employers (particularly those from tech, media, consulting, and finance) come to campus looking to hire a whole batch of students at the same time. Jobs in the public sector (government) and non-profit, as well as those in start-ups, generally tend to hire in the spring. The disconnect between industries and hiring cycles definitely makes the job search harder for seniors, especially those who would ideally like to compare options in sectors that hire at different times of year (government and consulting, for example). Add the pressures of a weak economy to this equation, and you wind up with hundreds of seniors anxiously looking for opportunities and hoping to get the whole job search process over with before spring semester; as a result, a little more than half of the class at least tries to recruit during the fall.

There are a few main components of the “job search,” but the most time consuming of these is the suite of information sessions, “coffee chats,” and career fairs that come to campus every fall to recruit seniors. Information sessions are run by a single company and offer a chance to hear about a firm and meet some employees; career fairs are usually put on by Harvard and feature a few dozen companies all under one roof; and “coffee chats” are hosted by individual companies and offer a space for individual conversations with employees at cafes in Harvard Square. Each of these, unsurprisingly, has its own “vibe” – some are stressful because of the number of people in the room, others because you’re having a 1-on-1 conversation. All offer an opportunity, though, to hear a bit more about the company you’re interested in and get a sense for the people and culture that define the place. All told, I’ve probably been attending 10-12 of these events per week since I got to school; this translates to a LOT of business casual attire.

OCS Job Fair Description

Students at last year’s job fair (photo cred: OCS!)

In addition to the informational events, Harvard’s Office of Career Services offers a bunch of workshops and office hours for seniors partaking in the job hunt this fall (in addition to a huge range of other offerings, as well!). Some of the most helpful resources include drop-in hours (some of which are only available for seniors), during which time you can get advice on writing cover letters and resumes; and “mock interview marathons,” where students get to practice interviewing with OCS employees and Harvard alum and get feedback on their performance. As someone interested in applying for consulting jobs, these types of offerings are incredibly helpful – many of the firms I’m looking at will read hundreds of resumes and conduct hundreds of interviews, which means that every little bit of advice and feedback is incredibly helpful for this process.

After a couple of weeks of preparation and networking, the actual application process for a lot of companies starts this week, and interviews will begin about two weeks from now. I had a big personal milestone on Friday: applying for my first job! I submitted the first part of my Teach for America application on Friday evening, and am looking forward to hearing back about next steps.

My confirmation email from TFA!


Outside of the job search, senior year has gotten off to a really fun (if not hectic!) start. This weekend, I got to celebrate two of my friends’ birthdays on Friday night (we were all in the same freshman entryway!), and then spent Saturday hanging out with the seniors from Dunster House. I also got a chance to go see the Nostalgics, a soul/funk band featuring 12 undergrads – I have a few good friends that play for them, and they are a really fun group to listen to, so I always love getting a chance to hear them play live. The event was the “Vinyl Club,” a school-wide event sponsored by the Harvard radio station, WHRB.

Dunster Seniors – and yes, we’re in “golf” costumes

Vinyl Club poster

My roommate and me at the Nostalgics!

And a shout-out to my fellow blogger, Reid, who rocked it last night as one of the singers for the Nostalgics!

Work it, Reid!

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There’s a line I say quite frequently that I wish I heard others vocalize as well: “We met at science camp.” I actually say it with a shy pause – definitely not because I’m slightly embarrassed or anything…it’s just for the dramatic effect!

I spent two of my high school summers at science camp: COSMOS (California State Summer School for Mathematics & Science) at the University of California Irvine and YSP (Young Scholar Program) at the University of California Davis. Whenever my peers question these summers, I naturally articulate that it was THE BEST SUMMER EVER as my eyes roll to the back of my head to replay all my cherished and hilarious memories. The chemistry and neuroscience classes/lectures that I attended, the hands-on research exposure and experiences, and most definitely the people I’ve met, all can explain my personality and interests, which is a huge reason why I put tremendous effort into maintaining my friendships from science camp.

Last semester at the epic annual Harvard-Yale football game, a friend from science camp – the only Yale student I know – reached out to me and offered to tour and host my friends and me during the weekend of the game. We all had so much fun with my friend showing us the local hot spots and agreed that this one weekend was too short. Therefore, this past weekend, the Yalie visited me for Yardfest! He’s never been to Harvard before and has been pretty committed to bashing it since he got waitlisted, so naturally, my goal was to change his opinion. My favorite quote of the weekend: “Harvard is so great! There’s a river and we can walk around at night.” I’m so glad that he not only felt safe roaming the streets of Cambridge, but also had a blast at Yardfest where students wildly danced to The Nostalgics (with Reid!), 3LAU, Das Racist, and The Cataracs. For two years now, Yardfest has pulled through to be an awesome Sunday evening and since the event ends before 10pm, there’s still time to study after!

Although New Haven Yalies may appreciate Harvard’s security, this week, I’ve become cognizant of not only how excited and committed Harvard students can get about the most random things, but also how much I love this enthusiasm!! If you follow us on Twitter (which you should!), I tweeted about an article about all the House Wars that have been arising – check out Caroline’s take on the wars! As a freshman last year, I wasn’t aware of these inter-house wars that are such a perk to House Life! I’m a proud Mather House resident, and us Matherites are led by a somewhat anonymous “General Mistie” (a spin off one of our house master’s names?).

If you’re a high school senior procrastinating, let me help you out by providing some HILARIOUS insight to the emails that have been sent out:

Read this Crimson article for relevant background info.

In the words of General Mistie:


The war council has decreed its intent to defend Currier if Adams continues hostilities towards our Quad brethren. Note that we only act to protect our allies from harm, and will declare war if necessary:

“Decree to Save the Tree” (best document title ever…Currier’s Mascot is the Tree)

Mather House takes this opportunity to remind the warmongers of Adams House that we have long maintained a strategic alliance with Currier House. Our houses unite every year to promote peace and prosperity, setting an example for all Harvard houses to Increase Mather and Currier spirit.

Adams’ recent encroachment on the sovereignty of Currier is an unwise and rash decision, greatly underestimating the strength of Currier and its allies. Pforzheimer House has already declared its solidarity with Currier, reminiscent of the Pfoho-Adams War of 1999.

Adams would be wise to remember Mather’s actions in the Great House War of 2004, where we acted courageously in Adams defense against Kirkland. When Kirkland infringed upon Adams territory by stealing the Adams gong, Mather courageously stepped in to protect Adams against its stronger opponent. Without Mather Gorilla warfare, the gong may have never been recovered.

We will not be the house that stands by and watches its allies struggle alone. Mather calls on Adams to rescind its declaration of war by 11:59:59 P.M. Wednesday April 11th, 2012. If Adams does not comply or takes any hostile action against Currier or its allies, Mather will immediately declare war in solidarity with its Quad allies.

We urge Adams to reconsider their reckless decision and advise the citizens of Adams to implore their leaders to withdraw their declaration of war. After almost eight years of peace, Mather does not wish to enter hostilities with any house. But where there is tyranny, we will fight for the right to maintain housing independence.

General Mistie

And to not play House favorites, I’ll also illuminate the participation of Cabot House:

Let it be known that on this day, the Tenth of April in the year Two Thousand and Twelve, the House of Cabot did officially enter into an accord with the House of Currier. We, the people of Cabot, are joining in defense of our ally, sturdy Currier, with the good Houses of Pforzheimer and Mather to denounce and oppose the acts of aggression taken by Adams House against our sister house, fair Currier.

Adams House’s declaration of war and illegitimate claim to the territories that rightfully belong to Currier House is an offense and provocation to all Houses. Following the senseless and terribly made Adams housing day video, Cabot residents did not succumb to provocation and instead let the people judge Adams. However, we can no longer stand idly by and watch Adams continue to commit these acts. We, the people of Cabot, will not stand for such injustices and must act to impede this infringement upon our Faust given and unalienable Rights (one of my personal favorite quotes of all time!), among these being Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. In the spirit of Quad solidarity and in support of the rights of all peoples of all Houses at Harvard to live freely and peacefully, the undersigned do declare that the people of Cabot have entered into a defensive alliance with the House of Currier and will be at war with the House of Adams if any acts of aggression are made.

Until the time at which Adams publically recognizes its misdeeds and renounces its actions, Cabot House will maintain its hostile relations to Adams. Let it be known to the Harvard body that Cabot House, the Heart of the Quad, will not stand for houses that act dishonorably. Quarter will not be provided to those who wish harm against our brothers and our sisters.

Lastly as a consequence for Adams continued dishonorable acts of aggression and vitriol, Adams house residents will be held to Cabot House dining hall restrictions, whereby Adams house residents will not be allowed to eat on Tuesdays from 1:30 PM until 2:00 PM. Let this be a lesson to all who transgress against such peaceful houses as Currier.

Semper Cor,

Cabot House

The technical, sophisticated language, the historical references, and just the overall passive aggressive tone makes me want to read multiple textbooks on these House Wars! I’ll always LOVE the intensity that Harvard students bring towards not only their academics, but also extrapolating ridiculous jokes.

This type of enthusiasm will definitely carry over to this weekend as we welcome the newly admitted undergraduate class during Visitas (formerly known as Pre-Frosh Weekend)!! We’re all so excited to see you…looking lost, confused, and holding a crimson folder with a dandy map inside! Be ready for free swag! The weather is for sure welcoming as I just had my first class outside today on the steps of Memorial Church!

When you sit on Mem Church steps, you're overlooking Tercentenary Theatre…that's Widener Library straight ahead!

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