Blasting Off on a New Rocket Ship

Paige Friedlander
Class of: 

And then he said, 'Get on a rocket ship. When companies are growing quickly and they are having a lot of impact, careers take care of themselves…If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.'"

When my future boss sent me this story from Sheryl Sandberg, I knew I was moving to the right place after St. Lawrence. As tentative as I had been about making the ‘right move’ after college, this story reminded me that thanks to every experience I had at St. Lawrence, all of the skills I will carry into my first job mirror all of the opportunities I have been given while enrolled here.

Through a diverse range of classes and leadership roles, I have been able to take those learning experiences off campus with me. After going to Career Services as a sophomore and getting my resume reviewed, I was luckier than I knew to be offered an internship that following summer at the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet, MassChallenge. I was always able to put my best foot forward since I always felt backed up by my experiences at St. Lawrence. Between the effective ways of combining communication and organization that I learned in classes, the skills of team building I had experienced as an Orientation Leader and the energy to always say ‘yes’, I had a really successful internship experience. St. Lawrence helped me step onto the rocket ship.

After growing from my time at MassChallenge, I came back and saw my classmates becoming the captains of sport teams, excelling at community service, finalizing majors and succeeding at conducting research. All of these experiences strengthened them as students and enabled them to get internships at Morgan Stanley and Bloomberg, work for senators and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and even travel to Nicaragua to work with Operation Smile. To simply state it, we were getting prepared to find that next rocket ship.

A big part of saying thank you before we graduate is establishing our class gift.  The class gift, a true token of our class that will stand on campus long after we leave!  As the Senior Class Council and I brainstormed what we could possibly pick to reflect how special our class is, we couldn’t pick a physical gift that truly represented the Class of 2016 or our experiences here.

After a few discussions, we sat down with some members of the University Advancement staff to help make up our minds. As we sat in the Sullivan Student Center, we listened as the greatest opportunity was offered to us: the chance for our class to leave a lasting legacy. The Alumni Executive Council (AEC) was establishing an endowment that will give ​more students the chance to enjoy the type of internship experiences that my classmates had and ​our class gift could​ be a part of that! Mutual assistance is the cornerstone of what it means to be Laurentians, and joining forces with the AEC meant the Class of 2016 had the support of past Laurentians to leave our alma mater something meaningful. An added bonus is that many of our parents are joining us, too, thanks to the Senior Parent Initiative. This collaboration means increased financial assistance for more students who will need to worry less, if at all, about housing, food costs and all those details that can be difficult to manage out of pocket while focusing on their internship. 

Giving back is a way to keep our legacy and, even more importantly, sustain the legacy of Laurentians past, present and future.  So by choosing this initiative as our class gift we are not only picking a gift that keeps on giving, we are providing future students with the same experiences that helped us grow into the people we are today. 

As the seniors and I take in every last tradition as current students and enjoy every moment as a physically unified class, it’s hard to not look around and reflect on the experiences we’ve had. Those experiences happened in classrooms, while studying off campus and in internships we had during the school year and over breaks.  All of these opportunities have helped us find ourselves and find our own way so that we may be leaders and Laurentians in every community we join.  Because of this, I know each of us will be very successful in our first steps after graduation, and we are about to get on some pretty cool rocket ships.

After seeing how strong the alumni connections are, I know members of my class will one day be those bosses and heads of departments accepting young Laurentians to mentor, reminding us of how we began to grow into the people we are today. I can’t wait for the day I welcome a St. Lawrence student with that special Laurentian charisma to my office and watch them conquer their internship thanks in part to the financial assistance that we all helped make possible.