As the end of the year approaches and the University prepares for the 168th Commencement ceremony, more than 1,300 seniors are looking ahead to prepare for the next phase of their lives.

Some seniors have decided to brave the job market while others have chosen to remain in the Atlanta area for opportunities and connections they have made.

College senior Madeline Teissler found a job through Emory’s English department. She will be a teaching assistant at the Cliff Valley School, which is a small, progressive, independent school in Toco Hills for preschoolers through eighth graders. Her job will involve teaching four subjects – English, math, social studies and science – to middle school students.

“I’m really looking forward to continuing being in school while not being in school if that makes any sense at all,” Teissler said. “Sharing knowledge and seeing that feedback loop is just the coolest thing in the world.”

As a Theater Studies and English double major – and as somebody who always knew she wanted to teach – Teissler has extensive experience as a theater instructor. Teaching other subjects, however, will be a new experience.

“I advocate working a little before you go to grad school,” Teissler said, speaking to the pressures that many students face in attending graduate school immediately after finishing their undergraduate studies. Teissler said that graduate school may still be in her future.

While Teissler has decided to put her theatric aspirations on hold, College senior Tim Harland, also a Theater Studies major, is in the process of auditioning for shows in the Atlanta area.

“With my profession, there will most likely never be consistent, certain work. A show’s contract would only last a little less than two months between rehearsal and shows, so I will be stuck constantly searching for work,” Harland wrote in an email to the Wheel.

Harland, however, said that he is excited to be an “eternal student” in a constantly evolving mode of art.

But not all have chosen to remain in Atlanta.

With the unemployment rate for 20 to 24-year-olds now at 13.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor, some students see postponing work as the path of least resistance.

Even though he had been warned of the sparse range of work opportunities for students who pursue academia, College senior Max Ashton will nevertheless attend Stanford University (Calif.) in the fall as an English Ph.D. student focusing on Medieval English and Anglo-Saxon poetry.

“The woman I’ll be working with at Stanford told me [that] when I visited how bad the job market is. I’ve been hearing that for four years,” he said.

Ashton, however, did not turn to graduate school as a last resort. His consistent attraction to graduate school has had much to do with being in a new city as it does the subject matter.

“My life outside of school will be really fantastic,” Ashton said, noting that he looks forward to being near San Francisco. “San Francisco is really cosmopolitan.”

Also embarking to new territories, College senior Jeff Sporn plans to spend six months to a year traveling across Europe. Sporn decided long ago that entering the job market was the last thing on his mind.

“I think it’s silly to spend so much of [one’s] youth working for a career,” Sporn said. “You have your whole life to make a career.”

He will visit family and friends before working in France with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, an organization of organic farmers who offer jobs to travelers in exchange for food and housing around the world.

For Sporn, the biggest challenge will be staying fiscally responsible. He plans to save money by couch surfing, a system where strangers offer their homes to travelers through an online database. He said he looks forward to the new job and new culture the most.

Other students have also decided to pursue unconventional post-graduate dreams. College senior Tess Komarek will join the Peace Corps in September, working in the health sector for two years before she attends medical school.

According to Komarek, the influence of her grandfather’s experience in the Peace Corps and traveling to underprivileged areas as a child encouraged her to apply. She will most likely be placed in West Africa because that is where most of the health-related offices of the Peace Corps are located.

“Because I’ve traveled a fair amount and seen parts of the world that don’t have basic access to medical care, that is what I want to do with the rest of my life after medical school – go and serve in underprivileged areas around the world,” Komarek said.

She said she believes her experience in the Peace Corps will prepare her for her ultimate career aspirations.

Like Teissler, Komarek is optimistic about gaining work experience before attending graduate school.

“I may be entering [medical school] with people that were freshmen and sophomores when I was at Emory … but I’m excited to gain this life experience that will only enhance my application and experience once I’m in medical school and beyond,” Komarek said.

Komarek is a strong advocate for taking advantage of having few responsibilities as a fresh graduate.

“This is the perfect time in your life to just go and do and experience and learn what life means,” she said.

– By Rupsha Basu 

Photo courtesy of Bryan Meltz

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The Emory Wheel was founded in 1919 and is currently the only independent, student-run newspaper of Emory University. The Wheel publishes weekly on Wednesdays during the academic year, except during University holidays and scheduled publication intermissions.

The Wheel is financially and editorially independent from the University. All of its content is generated by the Wheel’s more than 100 student staff members and contributing writers, and its printing costs are covered by profits from self-generated advertising sales.