'18s Over the Map: Where To Next?

by Farid Djamalov | 1/17/18 2:05am

As flocks of geese escape winter’s frigid grip, seniors are similarly preparing to embark on their own journey. The graduating class hails from various parts of the world, enriching the College with diversity, and upon leaving the College, will rebuild their homes elsewhere. Three seniors, Benji Hannam ’18, Mahnoor Maqsood ’18 and Alex Vasques ’18, sat down with The Dartmouth and shared their plans for next year.

  Vasques, an engineering modified with economics major, is originally from Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Although nominally a city, Alexandria, in Vasques’ opinion, is imbued with a suburban energy.

  “There’s a main street with a bunch of shops, but there are no high-rises or apartment buildings; it’s townhouses and cul-de-sacs,” Vasques said.

  As she prepares to relocate in the fall to New York City, she reminisces back to her childhood days, when she would visit her aunt and uncle that live in the city. Vasques credits those relatives for contributing to her excitement to live in that city.

  “I’m excited to move [to New York],” she said. “I love how all new things come to a city first. I also like that I get to walk everywhere and not have to take the car for a 15-minute drive. In New York, you can find something at every block ­— anything that you need is always really close to you.”

  However, Vasques was not always so set on her prospective job location. During one of her off-terms, she worked in San Francisco for a small private equity firm and wavered between the East and West Coasts. Upon reflection, she came to a pragmatic conclusion.

  “I want to do something in finance, and obviously, New York is a big finance hub ... I really liked my time in San Francisco, but I am born and bred East Coast,” Vasques said. “I vibe more with the culture and fit in better with the people of New York. Maybe in the long term I can [move to the West Coast] if I get tired of the fast-paced New York, but now, I want it as intense as I can get it.”

  Another senior moving to New York is Maqsood, planning to work in the technology division of a finance firm. Maqsood is part of her class’s 8 percent international student population, with roots in Pakistan.

  “[The transition from Pakistan to Hanover] was definitely a culture shock,” Maqsood said. “I wasn’t with my family. I’m an only child and I’m really close to my parents. Generally, a lot of things here are different. ... Food is not seasoned here, so that was weird. Also, people eat dinner at 6 p.m. here. My parents eat dinner at 8 p.m., and that’s considered really early back at home.”

  Maqsood, however, does not worry about her transition to New York City.

  “All my best friends will be moving to [New York City and] I think that it’s important to have a strong support system ... Also, New York is so multicultural, which is why I am so excited to move.” Maqsood said.

  However, some members of the graduating class are not planning to move to cities with big Dartmouth alumni bases. One of such people is Hannam. Hannam plans to move to Beaverton, a suburb of Portland, Oregon, to work at Nike’s headquarters.

  “Last winter I was lucky to have the opportunity to go work at Nike to do software-engineering ... I didn’t know much about Portland because it’s not as international as New York. I went there completely blind and ended up loving it there and had a really great summer. For me, accepting [their offer] was a no-brainer,” he said.

  Hannam claims that while the Dartmouth network spreads thin in his region, through his summer internship, he had the opportunity to already start building his community there. Furthermore, this is not the first time Hannam has drastically relocated, as he originally hails from London, England.

  “I have a little bit of experience with [maintaining long-distance friendships], having moved from London,” he said. “It’s probably more difficult with London [than it will be with Dartmouth] because of time zone differences, but otherwise, you have to make an active effort to be proactive [in maintaining these relationships].”

  As seniors prepare to build their new homes, many do not plan to stay in their new locations long term.

  “If I want fried chicken at 3 a.m., I would only find that in New York ... [New York] is a fast-paced city and this is the only point in my life when I actually would want to live there,” Maqsood said. “I probably won’t be living in New York in 10 years,” Maqsood said.

  Sharing a similar view, Vasques acknowledges the financial difficulties of raising a family in the city.

  “As a young person, living in the city is great,” Vasques said. “For family and life planning, I plan to move to a suburb, but I wouldn’t mind working in a city forever. I love New York.”

  Furthermore, members of the graduating class also factor their parents into their job location decisions.

  “[My parents] come to New York a lot ... so they are pretty comfortable doing the drive from D.C. — it’s a three and a half to four-hour drive, so it’s not too big of a concern for them,” Vasques said.

  However, for some internationals, keeping in contact with their family will be difficult while they work in the United States.

“It’s hard because once I start work, I can no longer go away for five weeks because there is no winterim during work,” Maqsood said. “I think my parents are going to come visit me and I will probably go visit them too, but it is going to be hard. However, I feel like this is a great stepping stone to my career and [my parents] understand this and want this for me too”

Hannam, however, does not believe that distance is detrimental to relationships. 

“I don’t think it will be too much of a problem to stay in touch with friends,” Hannam said. “The friends you stay in contact with will probably be your friends no matter what happens ­— even if you don’t talk to them over long periods of time.”

Even as the graduating class prepares to fly off into the real world, they are all still connected by their ties to the College.