“Life After Knox” is a three-part series exploring the post-graduation experiences of recent Knox alumni and how effectively their college experiences prepared them for things such as jobs and graduate school. This installment is part three of the series.
Jonathan Sulinski graduated in 2009 with a double major in Creative Writing and Studio Arts and aspirations of landing a job working at a magazine, in an art gallery or for the book publishing industry. A year and a half later, he is still looking.
“Since I’ve left Knox, I’ve had to move in with my parents,” he said.
In that time, Sulinski has worked part-time jobs at a pizza restaurant and a framing shop. Despite applying for numerous jobs, “the most I get is a whole bunch of internships,” he said. Most are unpaid and require travel to another city, something Sulinski cannot afford to do.
“I’m finding jobs online but it’s nothing I’m qualified for,” Sulinski said.
Sulinski is not the only graduate still working on finding a foothold in their desired field. Mascarinas, ’10, applied to several medical schools but was not accepted. He felt, however, that this had little to do with Knox.
“The classes that I need to take prepared me pretty well,” he said. Mascarinas felt the larger issue with his applications was the fact he took the MCATs late and didn’t follow up with medical schools for interviews.
“To be fair, it was entirely my bad,” he said. Mascarinas is currently re-submitting his applications to do research on pancreatic cancer at Northwestern University.
Josh Davidoff, ’10, who is currently a post-baccalaureate fellow at Knox, also had problems with the medical school application process. Although becoming a doctor is his ultimate goal, Davidoff was unsure about how prepared he would actually be after graduating Knox.
“A lot of people who get accepted to medical schools have more experience than me,” Davidoff said.
Davidoff expressed the concern that Knox is not structured in a manner that allows pre-med students to get the full value out of a liberal arts degree.
“As a pre-health major, with all of the classes that are required in that and the amount of time and commitment we put into those, we aren’t really able to get a full value out of the other liberal arts classes,” he said. “If you’re just taking them to fulfill requirements then they’re [going to] hinder you in your ability to go to medical school,” he said.
Sulinski wasn’t concerned with fulfilling graduation requirements. Rather, “they say I don’t have enough experience.”
Although Sulinski looked for a number of internships during his time at Knox, applying to fifteen programs, he got only one response – an e-mail saying the program had been discontinued. He utilized the Career Center extensively during his time at the school but suggested it could benefit from finding more internships still available to students.
Davidoff agreed, adding, “Knox did not help at all when it comes to finding internships if you are pre-health. That is left up to the discretion of the Pre-Health Club.”
In fact, Davidoff felt Knox could offer more research opportunities overall.
“There are limited opportunities that Knox affords you,” he said. “There’s a small amount – you’re either doing research with a limited amount of professors and they only have a few students or you’re doing McNair.”
Overall, however, no one — especially Sulinski — is blaming all of his luck on Knox. At a recent job interview for what was described as an “advertising” job, 20 other people had applied for the same position – some Sulinski’s age but others into their fifties and sixties.
Retrospectively, Sulinski felt it would be a good idea to have taken classes in business or finance to prepare him more effectively for such a competitive job market. Overall, however, he remains hopeful.
“There’s millions of other kids in my situation — it’s not just me. That’s a little consolation,” he said. “I really enjoyed my time at Knox. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”