|Gabrielle Blitz ’09
Ever since I was 6, I’ve had a plan. As often as possible, my parents would take my brother and me into Manhattan to attend a street festival, enjoy a late dinner, see a musical or just walk around the city that never sleeps. Driving home through the Lincoln Tunnel back to suburban New Jersey, I would tell my parents that one day I was going to live in a huge white loft in New York and run around the city wearing high heels and beautiful tweed suits.
There was something irresistible about the female powerhouses I saw strutting down Madison Avenue wearing those Chanel suits. I also remember wanting to be the boss in whatever career I pursued. Talk about big dreams for a first-grader. To me, though, these weren’t just grand fantasies, they were markers along a life path that I desperately wanted to start running down. I’ve always been anxious to grow up, to see what’s next, to get going on the life that I’ve imagined since grade school.
I grew up in a family that was musically inclined, artistic and extremely driven in business. They set high standards, but I was always hardest on myself. As a junior in high school I was able to persuade my way into an internship with the former CEO of Sony Music, Tommy Mottola. I enjoyed working in the music industry and continued on as an intern at Sanctuary Group Records, where I became an executive assistant for an artist manager before I was 20. The next year, I wanted to expand my experience in a different kind of fast-paced industry, so I went on to work in the fashion department at Teen Vogue and later as an assistant for the fashion director of W magazine.
Early in college, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in an entertainment or fashion-related industry, for I seemed to thrive on the chaos that was required. I concluded that, post-Dickinson, I wanted to enter the workforce, as pursuing grad school would set me back in a field that thirsted for youth.
When I began my senior year in college, the plan that I’d had since childhood no longer seemed so concrete. In the midst of a global economic crisis, when millions of jobs were being lost and our country was trillions of dollars in debt, my classmates and I felt we not only needed to search for and secure jobs but that we might have to readjust our career agendas.
In September, I started feverishly networking with past employers and reaching out to every source I could imagine. The decline of Wall Street seemed to bring the fall of everything else. Creative industries were hit hard, and I felt I lacked a clear path to course down. Most companies had hiring freezes, layoffs were occurring daily, and so many of our parents and grandparents needed to rethink retirement and had lost or could lose their jobs.
Resolved to continue my search, I reached out to the Dickinson Career Center, the best resource that any Dickinsonian has available. I explored programs such as Dickinson Works, a database of alumni who have provided contact information for students, faculty, staff and fellow alumni seeking career advice. I also discovered DickinsonConnect, which brings together alumni and others seeking seasoned workers as well as students who are job hunting.
I’ve learned that our alumni are extremely willing and excited to lend any help they can, especially now, when the job market seems to be up in flames. I began looking into industries that I didn’t originally find attractive and talking to anyone in the corporate world I could reach. Unfortunately, nepotism, as always, plays a huge part in getting a job or even an interview. But for those students without famous family members, Dickinson offers hundreds of alumni contacts with whom we can consult.
I’m lucky to have attended a small liberal-arts college, where I am not one among thousands graduating but one of a few hundred. I have had the opportunity to connect with past, current and future Dickinsonians because of the alma mater we are lucky enough to share. Despite these benefits, I’ve had to concede that drive, determination, a solid resumé and contacts may not equal a career come graduation day.
So, for now, those big dreams of Chanel suits and an uptown loft are replaced with the realities of khakis from The Gap and a downtown studio apartment with roommates. It may take longer to reach my childhood aspirations, but I look to this unmapped road with a sense of adventure.
Gabrielle Blitz ’09, a political-science major from Westfield, N.J., spent the last year as an editorial assistant for Dickinson Magazine. She is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and Wheel & Chain senior women’s honorary society.