Stern College for Women Graduates Tell Seniors About the Ups and Downs of Post-College Life

Nov 1, 2006 — Emily Fischer, a January 2006 graduate of Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, didn’t know what she wanted to do after she graduated. Her experiences finding a job, a place to live, and a new way of life reflected the challenges, hopes, and fears facing the nearly 50 seniors who attended the recent “Life After College” event at Stern College for Women.

Ms. Fischer, an English Communications major, was one of five panelists who returned to Stern College for Women to help seniors plan for life after graduation.

“I had to change my field completely and think outside the box,” said Ms. Fischer, who has experienced success at a technology public relations firm. While she told the seniors that she would never have targeted a technology job when she was in college, her positive interview and the mentors she found at her new job changed her outlook.

“I’ve become much more confident,” said Ms. Fischer, who added that she has been promoted in a short amount of time and oversees some of her own accounts.

The Senior Class Workshop, sponsored by the departments of Student Affairs and Career Services and the Senior Class Board, invited first-year alumni back to campus to talk about all aspects of life after college.

“The purpose is to give students a glimpse of the future after graduation, how it will affect their personal and professional lives and how to avoid last-minute panic attacks,” explained Senior Class President Yael Schiller.

Rivi Goldsmith, a graduate student at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, said she chose Wurzweiler because she “liked being in the YU system; it was familiar to me.”

Both Ms. Fischer and Ms. Goldsmith talked about the difficulties of paying for rent, food, air conditioning and other necessities. “Sometimes I think my paycheck should just be sent directly to my management company,” joked Ms. Fischer about the rent for her Upper West Side apartment, which she shares with one other woman.

All of the panelists talked about missing the nurturing environment at Stern. “I had a very bittersweet experience leaving here,” said Yael Goldmintz, who lives with her parents in Teaneck, NJ.

Ms. Goldmintz, a May 2005 Stern graduate, attends a PhD program in psychology at Farleigh Dickenson University in Teaneck. Unlike the majority of the panelists, Ms. Goldmintz said she always knew what she wanted to do. But that didn’t make the transition from college life to post-college life any easier to navigate.

“Mourning that it is over is important,” Ms. Goldmintz advised, admitting that life after college is sometimes lonely. “But I feel different, and I like what I am doing.”

Esther Malka Stromer, a native of Teaneck, graduated in May 2005 after majoring in Jewish studies. But she is still there, working as a graduate assistant in Stern’s Brookdale Residence Hall. She credits her job there with helping her save money –– since she lives in the dorm for free and receives a stipend –– and with helping her make a smooth transition to life after college.

Ms. Stromer works at Ramaz Lower School as an assistant teacher for the first grade and is a graduate student at Bank Street College of Education. Ms. Stromer advised seniors not to reject jobs because they are not in leadership positions. “One of the advantages I have is to be able to look around and see how people do things,” she said.

All of the alumnae spoke about the transition from an Orthodox environment, where observance is understood, to a secular environment, where they have to confront stereotypes and conflicts with their values. They agreed that representing the values they learned from their religious backgrounds and their education at Stern College can be a source of respect and strength in their new, post-college roles.

Far Rockaway resident Brandyss Geller, an accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, talked about standing out in a secular environment, noting that some people comment on her haircovering. “People respect Shabbos and things like that, but other things are harder to explain,” Mrs. Geller said. “You have to be really strong in your Jewish identity.”

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