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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New City, New Home

This past Saturday, I moved to Boston to start the next chapter of my life: working in consulting.
After spending a little over two months in Korea and one month at home afterwards, I am more relaxed and self-aware than ever. My grandmother flew all the way from Korea to help me move in and get settled in my apartment in Back Bay, the heart of downtown Boston. Honestly, I feel so fortunate for the opportunities to live in a beautiful city, to work for a wonderful firm, and to have incredibly supportive family and friends who helped me become the person I am today.

My first couple days as a Boston newbie were pretty hectic with what seemed like nonstop Uber rides from my apartment to Target to get supplies. Once everything was settled, my grandmother and I explored most of Back Bay: Newbury St, Copley Square, the Boston Public Library, and Prudential Center. We also explored Cambridge (actually, it was just Harvard and H Mart), which my grandmother, of course, loved. On her last full day in Boston, we visited the Boston Public Garden, which surprisingly felt and looked a lot like Central Park without the hills, and the famous Quincy Market to eat delicious lobster rolls for dinner.

Ever since undergrad, I couldn't wait to graduate and start working. I loved my side consulting projects through 180 Degrees Consulting so much more than doing problem sets. Before a case competition in undergrad, I reserved an empty classroom to edit my slide decks. I went straight to the classroom after dinner and by the time I finished the slide deck, it was 3 AM. Clearly, I enjoyed my consulting projects a lot in college, so I am excited to see what it will be like to do them for a living, on a deeper and larger scale.

During college, I read a good number of self-help books and frequently sought mentorship from my professors, alumni, and career services, who helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses to ensure personal and professional growth. I am looking forward to exercising the feedback I have received from them while learning from accomplished and talented professionals at my firm.

I am more nervous than excited about starting my career. A Swarthmore alumnus, a senior whom I respect very much, gave me some great advice this summer about how we really only have about twenty years to dedicate to our careers, so we have to make the most of it. That really put things in perspective for me. But, he told me, "Don't stress. No rush!" And you know what? I think he is right. It takes time for us to learn about ourselves, and it is the journey that matters much more than the destination itself, whatever that may be.

Consulting and banking are often considered careers that equip people with the necessary skills for almost any job afterwards. I think I have an idea of what I may want to do after consulting, but who knows? I may want to do consulting forever if I like it enough! But it took me a long time to realize that at this point it doesn't matter. I can only find the right "next step" for myself by being proactive, self-aware, and trying to learn as much as I can in my job now. Who knows what that next step may be? I dunno. I will just trust the process.

I fell in love with Boston the very first time I visited, but taking the time to really explore the city with my family made me appreciate it even more. When I am not working, I hope to get settled down culturally in Boston as well: learn random facts about the city that only Bostonians know (are there any?), meet like-minded young professionals and see what motivates them, and, of course, try all the delicious restaurants in the area (fortunately, I live by a lot of them)!

One thing I am not looking forward to? The harsh Boston winters... I already have a lot of traumatic memories about slipping down the frozen hills at Swarthmore. On the bright side, I have a good excuse to buy more cute outerwear and boots!

To wrap up this post: I am nervous about starting my next adventure soon, but I am excited to see the stronger and more knowledgeable person I become afterwards. Words really can't express the gratitude I feel towards Swarthmore for the first-rate education and the community of bright, driven alumni. I can't wait to give back to everyone who has given me so much. Last but definitely not least, a huge shoutout to my grandmother for making the tiring trek to Boston. Moving in would not have been as seamless if it weren't for her. I wouldn't have wanted to spend my first days in Boston with anyone else.

With love,

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