This week we are excited to introduce a series of posts we’ll be doing on the blog: Major Stories! In this series, we’ll be spotlighting some college graduates and their journeys from college to their current career. There’s a lot to be learned from those who have already walked the path you’re on. First up in our Major Stories series: Meggin Capers!
Meggin is a graduate of Lafayette College, in northern Pennsylvania. Since graduation in ‘97, she’s traversed a number of jobs and explored several careers, before landing here at our very own Eastern University.
As an undergrad, Meggin majored in Government and Law, with a culture cluster in Eastern European Culture, a declared minor in Religion, and an unofficial minor in Business. Now that is a diverse education! It wasn’t always the case, though. Meggin began her undergraduate career as a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering major before switching to Government & Law. Beginning school at Lafayette, Meggin believed that her Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering major would allow her the space to take extra classes outside of the major. She quickly learned that this wasn’t the case. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering demanded all of her time and class space, and so she switched to Government and Law, which would allow her to have a broader educational experience.
Figuring it Out
Immediately after graduating, Meggin decided to join the workforce, without any set career trajectory in mind. She spent the first six months of that time working any sort of job you can imagine, from ice cream shops to office work, to get some money in the bank. At the end of those six months, she began the work they had been leading up to, with a nonprofit organization called Up With People. Up with People is ‘a global education organization which aims to bring the world together through service and music. The unique combination of international travel, service learning, leadership development and performing arts offers students an unparalleled experience and a pathway to make a difference in the world, one community at a time.’
After spending a year working with Up With People, Meggin returned back home Stateside, not quite sure of what to do next. Her father was quick to encourage her to get a ‘real job’, no matter what it was. Meggin’s dream was to work as a lobbyist for NASA or as some part of the science world. She wanted to be a part of making government-level political change happen. While many lobbyists of this sort go through law school, this isn’t a path that set in stone, and Meggin wasn’t sure that it was the one she wanted to take. In the meantime, she followed her dad’s advice, and got a ‘real job’, working for the Xerox Company.
During the time that she was working for Xerox, Meggin did some informational interviewing with a few real-life lobbyists (click here for our post on informational interviewing!) and came to the realization that working as a lobbyist was not the career for her. She wasn’t a fan of many of their practices and the way they went about their jobs. Around the same time, Xerox picked up some practices that Meggin didn’t want to be a part of, so she left the company after two years, in favor of the small business world and began working for an applied video technologies company, but financial struggles in the company resulted in a layoff.
As she pondered what would come next, her father suggested the nonprofit education world to her, pointing out a nonprofit university, just around the corner from their home—Eastern University. And with that, Meggin interviewed and was hired as the Director of Auxiliary Services at Palmer Seminary. After only three months in this position, she was invited to work at the university and became the Assistant Director of the Conferences department, even as she continued on working her job at the seminary, for about half a year. She was able to juggle the two full time jobs because of a combination of her workaholic ethic and the fact that loving what she was doing so much kept her from noticing (too much, at least) how very much work it was.
Finally, she gave up her position at the seminary and was able to devote all of her time to her position in the Conferences Office. After about two years, her boss left, and Meggin was promoted to Director of Conferences and Special Event Scheduling and Event Logistics. As Meggin put it, she started with a “real grown up” in charge, and next thing she knew, she was the oldest one in the office and in charge of the rest. Taking a team perspective and working closely with the rest of her department has helped her get past some of the strangeness of that shift which, she says, will happen to all of us at some point.
Meggin says that one of the beauties of her liberal arts education is that all of the different things that she learned, all of the critical thinking and processing skills, led her to be able to do what she does here at Eastern. Her religion minor taught her the background she needed to be able to have intelligent conversation with students. Her government and law studies taught her to analyze the systems that are in place and find better ways, a keystone of her work in the Conferences department. The business minor comes in handy every time budgets are due, and her Eastern European culture cluster helped her to understand levels of diversity in such a way that she is better able to connect with students. All of it matters.
Her Advice for Students
Knowing that many students get anxious about how they can know if they’re on the right path, if a career is right for them, or even God’s will for them, I asked Meggin the following: “Would you say there was ever a moment when ‘the shoe fit’ and you really felt at home in your career, or were you ever certain that this was the path the Lord had laid out for you?”
She responded, saying that she did have a kind of ‘AHA’ moment, that this is where she belongs and where the Lord wills her to be. But this is continuous for her. She hears that affirmation in the small parts of her work, in the rewarding things. She hears it on the 9PM Friday nights, when the computer’s not working, everything is going wrong, the bills are due, and she gets a call that they need chairs. She hears it when she runs over to get them, and finds herself in the middle of a worship service made up of teens from across the entire country, who came here to serve and take care of her city (Philly). A worship service full of these kids just being kids, dancing, and having fun, and praising the Lord. Those are the moments, Meggin says, when God is like, “Yeah, the computer sucks, but because you do the work on that, these kids have the opportunity to do this!” And those are the moments when she knows she is on the right path, and exactly where the Lord wants her to be.
When asked what the best advice she could offer to students as they try to discern a career path and the direction of their life, Meggin responded by saying that the most important thing is to just don’t stop moving! People can get so overwhelmed with what’s in front of them that it’s easy to become paralyzed or to settle, but you’ve got to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You need to ask yourself what you can do that’s in front of you? You don’t have to know what’s ahead, she says, you only need to focus on now. She showed me a favorite quote of hers, one that she feels captured this sentiment, and which helped her to focus her sights as she went through the journey the rest of us are on now:
“I beg you…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without ever even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” -R.M. Rilke