This week we feature Julie Van Buren via Honeoye Falls-Lima High School and Ithaca College. She’s got great perspective & valuable advice, and it wasn’t too long ago that she was navigating those college waters. So let’s see what she has to say….
Julie Van Buren
What do you work for?
I work to pay my bills.
I work to feel a sense of purpose.
I work a 9-5 to feel normal, typical or average.
I work hard and I do it to make my family and close loved ones proud; to set an example for the people that look up to me.
I work for the lifelong journey to figure out what it is that I am passionate about, what it is that I am here to do. I know that the important part is the ride and not the final destination.
I work to learn as much as I possibly can, about as many things I can.
I work so that I can be a contributing member of society, to invest in the future of our world and to give back whenever I have the means to do so.
I have worked for four different companies/ businesses since I graduated from college with a BA in Psychology back in 2011. It was very scary starting to look for a job with a liberal arts degree as my knowledge foundation. Afraid of making ends meet, I took the first job I was offered which was a spa attendant position at a resort in my college town, Ithaca, NY. The job involved washing dirty robes, towels and linens, folding them fancily and restocking the locker rooms and treatment rooms… for minimum wage. Not exactly what I had in mind. But I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I was a very determined, hard worker. Humbled. Very humbled by that experience. It made me grateful for what I had and it made me aware of the evils that exist amongst us. It made me think more about how I treat people who I perceive as being “under” me. I think many of us experience these perception- altering experiences when we transition; it is intense but it is a sign we are growing and becoming who we really are.
After that, a relationship took me all the way across the country to Los Angeles, California where I stumbled upon a front desk position for a real estate and investment firm. My whole concept of job and career was essentially turned upside down as I was thrown into the cold and exacting atmosphere of the corporate world. Again with this experience, it wasn’t what I DID that I take away. It was who I met and what I witnessed that resonates with me as I sit here looking back in retrospect.
When my relationship didn’t end up working out, I found myself back in my hometown loving it more than I ever had as a child and teenager. Again, I took the first job I was offered as an administrative assistant for a local staffing agency. When I felt I wasn’t being challenged by that, I applied for grad school. It was a Master’s program in Human Resource Management. I made it through one semester of full time work and school (Fall 2014) and felt that the program’s cost didn’t meet my perceived value of it. I am happy I tried it but did not return.
I was recruited by a small company off of LinkedIn this year; an IT staffing and recruiting firm where I now hold the position of Program Manager. I work with contracts and do some HR stuff. The position is new so it is still much unevolved but I am learning to adapt. The people are wonderful, they share a lot of the same values as I and the environment is very flexible to accommodate the demands of society’s modern lifestyles.
What do you do for fun outside of work?
Cooking and eating delicious food
Trying new local restaurants
Sitting on my porch and catching up with Derek
Hanging out with my family
Meeting new people
Binging on Netflix (OrangeIsTheNewBlack!)
What advice do you have for younger people as they prepare to launch themselves into the adult world?
Give yourself room to make “mistakes”. I put mistakes in quotes because you may make a decision that gets you in a hairy place or embark on a journey that takes a left hand turn out of nowhere but that doesn’t mean it was a mistake. Don’t compare yourself to others; the facades we see on social media are just that; facades. Your peers may appear to be extremely successful and blissfully happy with their career paths or significant others but that may not always be the case. And if it is, great! Don’t feel like your career absolutely has to define you. Be proud of what you do as it is always an important piece of the larger puzzle. Meet as many people as you can (even if you are an introvert like me!). You never know who you will run into or meet and how that will change your life. Follow your heart. Above all, be good to yourselves and to those around you.
Is there anything you regret not doing while you were in college?
Yes. I regret not taking the opportunity to go abroad. Many of my close friends and peers participated in studying abroad programs and it gave them the opportunity to see the world. As a freshman in college, I would urge you to become familiar with all of the offerings made by your institution so that you can plan for them in advance. There are once in a lifetime opportunities presented to you in college; don’t let them pass you by!