One day you’re a freshman the next thing you know you’re figuring out your 401K

When a friend first asked me to write this blog post I thought it would be a piece of cake – I was wrong (sorry John!). Delving into the actual writing has proved a tad more difficult as it’s forced me to reflect on just how much has happened in the four years that have passed since graduation – and it has been A LOT.

Much like my Gettysburg experience, time in the “real world” has passed quickly. One day you’re a wide-eyed freshman wondering who you’re going to sit with at Servo and the next thing you know you’re figuring out your 401K.  Leaving college, moving to a new city, and entering the work force have been rewarding experiences with steep learning curves. My time at the ‘Burg continues to serve me well post-graduation – I met the person who would become my first boss, found roommates in a new city, and networked my little heart out all through connections I made in school.

That being said, I’m lucky to have landed a job that I’m passionate about (and yes, part of finding a job that is a great fit is luck)- my work has taken me to 18 different countries and I have met some amazing people. I’ve worked hard the last few years to build the beginnings of a career that challenges and fulfills me.

So what have been the biggest personal and professional challenges since leaving Gettysburg?

  1. Impostor syndrome – Fighting the feeling that somehow everyone around you will figure out that you’re not qualified to be where you are. That feeling that can creep into professional settings despite your best efforts to squash it. Until very recently I was the youngest person in my office – I’m fortunate to work with colleagues that encourage my growth but it still took awhile to see that “young” wasn’t a bad thing. While the world may complain about millennials, we have a lot to offer (such a millennial thing to say, no?).  The flip side of that is in your 20’s you still have a lot to learn – just like in college, asking questions is a good thing.
  2. Work/life balance –As the new kid in town its easy to make yourself available 24/7 in an effort to impress. A few years ago I made 5 overseas trips in 11 months – I wasn’t taking care of myself well enough and got totally burnt out. I had to learn to delegate and assess my capacity at work better so that I could help my team be the most successful we could be.
  3. Making and keeping friends – In college you have people around you almost every waking moment. Your friends are just a short walk across campus and the longest amount of time you’re away from each other is over reading days. Post-grad life is a totally different story. You and your friends move to different cities, different time zones, meet new people, throw yourselves headlong into your careers, get engaged – there’s a lot going on and it’s easy drift apart. Taking the time to maintain those friendships, a visit every now and then, a couple phone calls, can be a crucial part of staying grounded in an otherwise crazy world.

The non-profit foundation that I work for is in a period of tremendous growth – it’s an exciting time. I’ve made my way up in the organization from when I first started as a Program Assistant and have seen our programming grow exponentially; I’m really proud of what we’re doing and have a great group of colleagues to share it with. I’ve also helped hire a number of new employees and it’s interesting to be on the other side of the hiring process – looking at the assortment of applications that come in sometimes makes me think about my own career trajectory. For me, grad school is definitely on the horizon – I know one day I’d like to teach at the college level – for now though I love where I am.

If I had to give advice to my senior year self, knowing what I know now, I would say the following: If you want to work internationally, take a language. Double-check cover letters before you send them (please). Read up on the organization you’re applying for a job at – tell them why you’re the best person to help them accomplish what they need to. Lastly (and I can’t take credit for this one but it’s something a Gburg professor told me awhile back), find someone who is doing what you’d like to do and ask them how they got there.

As a religious studies and political science double major, I was able to translate a lot of what I learned and was passionate about as a student into a career – the languages I took, the professors turned mentors that I learned from, and where I studied abroad all gave me an edge in finding a job I love post-college. Outside of the classroom, working as a GRAB facilitator enabled me to hone skills that are highly valued in today’s job market – leadership development, interpersonal communication, and risk management to name a few. My Gettysburg education has served me far beyond those 4 years on campus.

Not many colleges offer post-grad resources like Gettysburg does. There are lectures you can tune into online over lunch, an awesome mentoring program, networking opportunities, job resources with the Center for Career Development, alumni clubs to help you meet people in new cities, international hiking expeditions for alumni- so many things. I have taken advantage of all of these resources and they have been an awesome way to stay connected to Gettysburg.

One last bit of advice to my senior year self: relax, you’re doing fine – the real world isn’t that bad and you’ve got a whole network of pretty awesome people who want to see you succeed.

by Annie Valentine ’12


The three perspectives associated with Gettysburg College Journey to Alumni Status: Prospective Student, Student, Alumna

My name is Sarah Cardwell. I am a 2015 graduate of Gettysburg College. These past months post graduation have been filled with the usual events of a newly degreed young professional. Easy summer days spent along the Jersey Shore faded into intensive job searching which resulted in an opportunity in DC. Along with many other Gettysburg 2015 grads I have made the pilgrimage to our nation’s capital. All of these events stemmed from my Gettysburg experience which began in December 2010.

My Gettysburg experience commenced, as many others do, in the Office of Admissions. On a bitter snowy day, the first Saturday in December, I attended an info session followed by a campus tour. My tour was exceptional and memorable in comparison to the other small liberal arts schools in PA I had considered. Over the course of an hour-long walk through campus a relationship was constructed. My tour guide shared his Gettysburg Experience which I soon wanted to have for myself. I expressed a desire to join one of the campus choral ensembles. It seemed that fate had stepped in when I learned that the Winter Choral Concert was that evening. My tour guide was an ensemble member. The tour concluded with attending the choral rehearsal. Sitting in the chapel, listening to the ensembles rehearse, I felt like a member of the Gettysburg community.

Fast forward a year, roles were reversed. As a tour guide, I gave a similar tour to a prospective student who was also interested in the vocal ensembles. I was a member of the Women’s and Concert Choirs. Walking into rehearsal a year later I thought what a difference a year makes. I had survived the college application process and also made one of the best decisions thus far in my life.

Fast forward three more years and I am using skills and experience gained at Gettysburg in my new position in Alumni Relations at George Washington University. As I write about the connections made and the relationships built throughout my four years of undergraduate education I can attest to the fact that the Gettysburg Network continues following graduation. Even though I may be miles from campus I run into fellow “Bullets” on a regular basis; whether they be familiar faces on the metro, fellow colleagues sharing the our alma mater, or my apartment mates. As I reflect on these connections, I will admit I do not miss cramming for finals in early December!

My Gettysburg Experience was shaped by the interactions and relationships I had with fellow students, professors, and faculty members. Throughout four, short years I met some of my best friends and mentors. Perhaps as you read this you will recall how your Gettysburg Experience began. How did that experience morph into your current lifestyle and career? Who did you happen to meet along the way?

I do miss the picturesque Gettysburg snowy days and the month-long winter break. I am however relieved that I will not be camped out in Musselman Library this finals week. Happy Holidays!

Sarah Cardwell `15
BOLD Council

My BOLD Council experience

While a student at Gettysburg College, I was incredibly active in a small but mighty organization called the Student Alumni Association. It was a group I joined with my freshman year friends because a sister had recommended it to us. In SAA, we volunteered throughout Homecoming, the Twilight Walk, Founders Day, Get Acquainted Day, Relay for Life and many other campus events. We made gifts once a semester for Heritage alums – alumni who were 50 or more years graduated – and would deliver them to those in the area. We attended networking events and sought to better connect students with alumni in a variety of ways. I had no idea that this club would bring me to BOLD.

Upon my return from abroad in the spring of my junior year, I was asked to be the President of SAA. This meant several things, but most exciting to me, it meant that I would be able to sit in on the Alumni Board of Directors and BOLD Council meetings. Here, I was able to meet prominent alumni in the Gettysburg community who were dedicating a portion of their already busy lives to develop programs for the greater alumni community. At these meetings, all I had to do was present a short update on SAA, but for each of the three semesters I had this responsibility I was greeted with warmth and well wishes. It was the members’ welcoming and grateful attitudes that made me want to be a part of the BOLD Council post-graduation. I was one of the lucky few who got to see inspired Gettysburg alumni working so hard to keep others connected and engaged. It went far beyond getting donations from alumni – it was about keeping Gettysburg as a home for graduates. I made it my goal to become a part of BOLD, and luckily I was chosen to join a great group of individuals.

At the BOLD Council meetings – held around Homecoming and Get Acquainted Day weekends – we are able to discuss upcoming campaigns, events, and projects. We discuss ways in which we can keep alumni who are 10 years or fewer graduated from Gettysburg interested in the happenings on campus. We brainstorm new methods for marketing ourselves as well as new ideas for how we can better serve the greater Gettysburg community. Each of us comes from a different place, but we are able to come together on these weekends and catch up on life while working towards a common goal. It is our job to represent the BOLD community’s interests as we develop our ideas, programs, events, and so on. It is also our responsibility to make sure that the greater community knows what is current at the College. Engagement is crucial for us, and I am proud to be a person who my friends can contact if they have questions about what is new with Gettysburg.

Since joining the BOLD Council back in June, I have already had the opportunity to join the Career Committee, as well as the Nominations Committee. On the BOLD Council, it is not about what you do or who you know, it is about how much you care about our Alma Mater. Gettysburg College helped me grow extensively in my character. The College gave me the tools I needed to succeed post-grad. Without Gettysburg College, I would not have a second home to return to when I need a dose of college life, and I would not have had the opportunity to connect with so many successful leaders and genuinely passionate people. I am proud to serve on the BOLD Council, where my continued love of Gettysburg can be turned into new ideas for the College and the BOLD Community.

by Shannon Callahan

Why Join the BOLD Council?

By Johnny Nelson ’13
BOLD Council Member

In 2009, I decided to attend Gettysburg College. For the next four years I enjoyed an experience that has shaped my adult self in many ways, and in 2013, I graduated from our alma mater.

8893209301_a70d7ff257_oAfter matriculation, I had the good fortune of getting a job at Gettysburg where I worked for the next two years in the Office of Annual Giving. In the summer of 2015, I left my post, moved to Indiana, and entered graduate school.

My relationship with Gettysburg, however, was far from over, and though I followed a different path than many other young alumni, I would suggest that for all of us, our connection to Gettysburg can and should remain strong. The BOLD Council is one way that this can happen.

Working at one’s own alma mater can be an interesting experience. You learn the inner-workings of a place that you’ve thought you knew for four years and you face new challenges as you take on the mantel of employee and put away the mindset of student. I learned much in my two years working for Gettysburg, but one of the overwhelming things I came to realize was the deep rooted and far-reaching nature of our alumni support system.

Many of us caught glimpses of this loyal network as students, through an alumni-sponsored job shadowing, a Gettysburg internship, or a conversation at Homecoming weekend, but until I worked there, I did not realize the full scope of those supportive Gettysburgians out there. There are a lot of us, and the vast majority are invested in the success of Gettysburg College and their fellow alumni. This truth motivated me for two years working at Gettysburg, and led me to seek ways that I could somehow join those ranks of supportive and involved Gettysburg alumni, even after leaving my job there.

The BOLD Council has become that for me. I became a member this past summer as I transitioned out of my position at Gettysburg and moved to a new state. Despite being far away and occupied with new things, being a part of the BOLD Council has allowed me to stay connected to what is going on at Gettysburg and to work closely with other young alumni who share my interest in Gettysburg’s success.


I had the opportunity to return to Homecoming this fall not simply as a young alumnus, but as an invested member of the campus community. The BOLD Council has provided me opportunities to be an active member of the alumni network, and I have been able to have an impact and share my opinions as a young alumnus with college administrators, alumni leaders, and trustees during our council conference calls and biannual meetings.

I have found that the BOLD Council, serving to represent all alumni that graduated in the past ten years, is the ideal venue for active young graduates that are wishing to stay involved or renew their involvement with Gettysburg College.


I would strongly encourage anyone interested in being an active part of Gettysburg’s wider community, whether you are preparing to graduate or have been out several years already, to consider applying to be on the BOLD Council.

Your opinions as young alumni matter and your thoughts and expertise truly can influence and improve Gettysburg College with your input. This is the perfect way to get involved as alumni now.

A Time for Thanks – and Giving Back

November is the traditional month of thanks – and absurdly early holiday decorations (…I’m looking at you, Target). On the heels of BOLD Giving Week last month, you may think this is another post about giving monetarily. Of course, if you can, you should! But living the life of a Gettysburgian, and giving like one, goes beyond the checkbook.

During this time of thanks and reflection, I urge you to think of ways you can give back to your community. Gettysburg College taught us all the value of community service, whether during Orientation activities, Greek Life, alternative fall and spring breaks, and through the Center for Public Service. Now that we have graduated, possible relocated cities, and established new contacts in these places, it is important to keep that “Giving Spirit” alive.

There are many ways to give back:

  • Consider volunteering at local nonprofit organizations like soup kitchens, holiday gifting programs for underprivileged families, and shelters.
  • Perhaps you could organize a clothing or food drive with your co-workers, neighbors, or roommates.
  • Some companies have relationships with organizations already in place, and they are usually looking for employees to volunteer their time.

As the leaves change, the temperatures drop, and families gather to celebrate the abundances of 2015, keep in mind that others may be struggling and you can help. It’s part of the “Gettysburg Great” mentality, and it is one way we can continue to love, defend, and honor the glorious Orange and Blue.

Courtney Hughes, ‘07

BOLD Giving Week: Athletics

Orange&Blue Photo

I always knew I wanted to play tennis when I went to college. I grew up in a tennis family—my aunt had played professionally back in the eighties, I grew up hitting with my dad and siblings, and all of my older cousins had gone off to play at Division One programs. I knew something else too though. I knew that those older cousins had hit road bumps in their studies, experiencing problems when tennis overshadowed their collegiate experience, and I knew I wanted something different. As much as I loved tennis, I had other aspirations as well. I wanted to study history. I had done well in my academics in high school and I wanted to do the same in college.

The appeal of a liberal arts education, a small Division III athletics structure, and a campus environment intimate enough to be involved and successful in multiple pursuits drew me to Gettysburg. I saw Gettysburg College as an ideal place for me to maintain that balance that I wanted. I could stay well-rounded and find ways to split my time between tennis, classes, and extra-curricular activities while still improving on all fronts.

Tennis was formative, especially that freshman year. I got to know team members early in the fall. I not only bonded with peers in my classes and the first year halls, but I formed strong ties with my team members over post-practice meals, road trips to away matches, and on the court hitting sessions.

What I hoped for in coming to Gettysburg proved true. I could not have imagined all the ways that my dual focus as a scholar-athlete would eventually come together to benefit my college experience. Sometimes, when I was stressed about an upcoming exam or a looming paper that needed written, going out and hitting with my doubles partner, Mike McLaughlin, was the perfect release. I also came to appreciate Gettysburg’s tight knit community through tennis, where your mentors and friends from one area of campus were never far from supporting you in other activities. Professor Bill Bowman came out to watch our home matches to cheer me on and my adviser, Professor Michael Birkner, left newspaper clippings about my wins in my campus mailbox with notes of encouragement throughout tennis season every year. By senior year, my co-captain, Chris Curran and I were close friends on and off the court, and could talk about classes, social life, or tennis interchangeably.

Tennis in college provided an active outlet for me, a medium for cultivating close friendships, and a platform to develop into a well-rounded individual. Gettysburg athletes enjoy this type of balance no matter what sport they might play. Each athlete is invested in success on the field or the court, but also thrives in the classroom and on campus more generally. Gettysburg, with its intimate setting and emphasis on this balance is the perfect environment for those focused on a balanced success across multiple activities and interests. It would be impossible for me to think about my Gettysburg years without simultaneously thinking about tennis, and likewise, it would be difficult to reminisce about playing college tennis separate from my wider Gettysburg experience. I know this is true with many alumni athletes and will remain true with those who currently play, or will play, for Gettysburg. As an alumnus, I give back each year in support of the tennis team, keeping in mind what an important part of my own college experience Gettysburg athletics were. Through giving back to the Orange and Blue Club, I know that I am not only supporting Gettysburg tennis, but rather, the inseparable Gettysburg experience of all those scholar-athletes.

by Johnny Nelson ’13


BOLD Giving Week: Academic Departments

Academic Departments Photo

While there are many great aspects to the Gettysburg College experience, the most important is receiving a great education. A liberal arts education exposes students to different perspectives and methods of learning that you won’t find at large universities. There aren’t too many schools where you can develop a close relationship with professors like you can at Gettysburg. Through open office hours, student-faculty research, and social events; students get to know their professors and form a better working relationship. When asked what the best part of Gettysburg is, I always say the professors. They make the biggest difference in your academic experience. My favorite classes always involved professors who were passionate about the subject they were teaching and genuinely cared about the success of the students in their class. Gettysburg professors have inspired a lot of great work from Gettysburg students. It seems like every time I visit the College’s website or read the Gettysburg magazine, I’m amazed by another student accomplishment. These students motivate me to continue doing great work long after I’ve left Gettysburg. I want to continue to see great things from students and faculty. Consequently, I like to designate my gift to the specific academic departments that had the greatest impact on my Gettysburg experience.

by Kyle Rhood ‘08