Crucible Lunch Meetings Help Students Look Forward

Alumnus Chris Garratt spoke to current students during a recent Crucible lunch.  Photos by Brennan Johnson.

Alumnus Chris Garratt ’00 spoke to current students during a recent Crucible lunch. Photos by Brennan Johnson.

Forward-thinking Whitman students gathered in Reid G02 on Feb. 27 to discuss the transition to the “real world” with alumnus Chris Garratt ‘00.  

About 10 students gathered to watch videos, ask questions of Garratt and discuss their own preparations for post-Whitman life. The Crucible Lunch Series, sponsored by the Student Engagement Center (SEC), aims to help students bravely face the coming transition to the work force.

The SEC works to complement that education with information on the nitty-gritty realities of the imminent transition into the work force for those not directly entering into graduate programs. In the Crucible Lunch Series, Kyle Scott, technology & marketing fellow for the SEC, aimed to foster discussion of these details.

“It’s about bringing together the experience of local alumni, the great nuggets of knowledge that the [iOnPoverty] videos have to offer and the students to start a conversation about social entrepreneurship,” said Scott.

Scott was excited when he found iOnPoverty.tv, a web series highlighting advice from successful social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs actively seek out information and deploy the skills necessary for entrepreneurship, but hold social justice as their primary goal.

A video is shown

Scott saw potential for this idea at Whitman, where discussion of social problems permeates many departments. Along the same lines as many SEC events, the Crucible Series complemented academic discussion of such issues by presenting students with more practical information about entering the job market.

“It’s a disappointing experience when you graduate. I hate to say it … it’s a rude awakening,” said Garratt. “At Boeing I had a very entry-level position on the accounting team, this team of like 300 people, and actually the majority of them didn’t even have their college degree. That was really frustrating to me that I went and spent four years but … these people had been working for 15 years already, and they spent 15 years to get to that point.”

Students participate in discussion

Garratt noted that Whitman students often find jobs out of college for which they are academically overqualified, but experientially underqualified. Agreeing with ideas put forward in the iOnPoverty videos, Garratt noted the necessity of students to understand the financial realities of socially-minded work.

Senior Rachel Quednau, who attended one of the Crucible events, noted the shortcomings of the Whitman experience in this regard.

“I know for me, my first two years here, I didn’t really do that much off campus,” she said. “Then I did an off-campus semester in D.C. and had a bunch of internships and … really got energized about organizing and politics … Coming back, it’s been really valuable to have an outlet like [the Crucible Series].”

Scott hoped that, as an alumnus of Whitman, Garratt would hold credibility with an audience of current students, bridging the gap between peer and mentor.

“I wish there was a series like this when I went to school,” said Garratt.

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