Hello, Class of 2017! My name is Sean Pethybridge, and I’m a member of the Class of 2015. I’m majoring in History and Italian Studies, and for the past two months or so I’ve been the summer intern at the College’s Center for Career Development, which offers programs and opportunities that prepare students for post-college success. The Center for Career Development also happens to be the home of Student Employment Services, which is the administrative nerve-center of student jobs. By this point in the summer you’ve probably wondered about work-study, debated waiting a semester before finding a job, and maybe even created your GettysburgWorks account. While I can’t tell you where or when you should work, I can tell you that Student Employment Services is here to help. I can also tell you what I’ve observed while working on campus, which I hope you’ll find helpful as you consider your opportunities for employment at Gettysburg College.
Observation number 1: Not all jobs look the same!
Before arriving on campus, I was convinced I would find a job in either the Library or Servo. These two institutions seemed my most viable options for employment because I could more easily imagine students working in a library or dining center than in, say, IT. I had no clue that campus jobs are numerous and can be found in departments across the college. So two years after my initial arrival on campus, I have friends who work in the Library and Servo, but I also have friends who have held positions at the Athletics Center, IT, and even the President’s Office. Their responsibilities have included everything from performing administrative duties to managing social media content. My own experiences have been similarly varied; I’ve worked as a translator, a tutor, a farm assistant, a gallery attendant, and an office intern. So look around! You’re sure to stumble across an opportunity that matches your needs, interests, and working style.
Observation Number 2: Embrace the unforeseen.
It’s also possible that your job search will take some unforeseen twists. Jobs tend to crop up in unexpected ways, and my own experiences have indicated that it’s best to run with them if possible. My first unexpected opportunity arose at the end of my first semester. I wasn’t yet employed when I received an email from a professor about research assistance. Professors often enlist students to help with research, so this wasn’t too surprising. What did surprise me was that the email came from a professor of Biology. As a student of the humanities, you can imagine my confusion. As it turns out, this particular professor needed assistance with some Italian translations for her research on historical representations of the natural world. This coincided beautifully with my own academic interests, so I said yes to the request and started translating passages about 16th century museums and frescoes. In doing so, I expanded my Italian vocabulary and strengthened my translation skills. Declining to take this offer would have been much easier than slogging through pages of Renaissance Italian prose, but it also would have meant missing out on an incredible learning experience.
Observation Number 3: Consider Gettysburg in the summer.
I live at the Jersey Shore, and while life on a barrier island has its upsides, I don’t consider the area’s shortage of resume-worthy summer jobs to be among them. For this reason, I’ve spent the last two summers in Gettysburg. Around February of my first year I decided to try my hand at farming, so I applied (and was accepted) for a position as one of Painted Turtle Farm’s summer interns. I ended up taking the position, and I’m beyond happy I did because that summer turned out to be an incredibly formative experience. This summer, I’m performing office duties instead of pulling weeds. Sure I’ve missed being outside all day, but my job at the Center for Career Development has given me an entirely new set of skills. I have improved my office etiquette, beefed up my knowledge of Microsoft Excel, and realized that I need to further develop my time management skills. Outside of the office, these past two summers have afforded me the opportunity to delve deeper into the town and its environment. Believe it or not, Gettysburg and the surrounding area have much more to offer than just the battlefields; I’ve heard live music countless times, visited some incredible state parks, worked on several farms, explored D.C., been to a roller derby, gone to a free film festival, and have generally had the most amazing summers of my life. So if your hometown doesn’t offer much by way of jobs, or if you’re looking to expand your skill set, I’d definitely recommend staying in Gettysburg for the summer months.
Your first year can be a stressful time, but it’s also the start of what will be some of the most amazing years of your life. Don’t add to the stress by worrying about where, when, or how you’ll find employment on campus; instead, remember that your employment opportunities at the college are diverse, can appear unexpectedly, and aren’t limited to the academic year. And as you progress through the coming semesters, realize that the positions you have at Gettysburg College are so much more than just jobs you held while an undergraduate. They have the capacity to prepare you for post-Gettysburg success. They can help you become a better researcher, like my job as a translator, or they can help you develop office etiquette skills, like my job at the Center for Career Development. They can even help you become a more independent person, like my job at Painted Turtle Farm. So welcome to Gettysburg College. Work hard, learn more than you ever thought possible, and enjoy your time here.