Exclusives: Raising Kate
PAW web exclusive column by Kate Swearengen '04 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ne regrette rien
Or why I didn't get that Foreign Relations internship
By Kate Swearengen '04
Illustration by Henry Martin 48
This column is about mistakes, specifically, the mistakes I've
made in the course of my Princeton career. What follows is a summary,
not necessarily of the most outrageous blunders, but of the most
memorable ones. My friends tell me that someday I'll look back on
all this and laugh. I'm not so sure.
Mistake: International Relations term paper
Looking back on it, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to discuss
realism and idealism in the context of Sex Pistols lyrics. Particularly
for a term paper. Then again, my professor was a self-declared Bolshevik
with a hammer-and-sickle earring and a subscription to The Nation.
I figured that, on the off chance that he wasn't a fan of late-70s
punk, he would at least appreciate an innovative approach to the
essay prompt. Boy, was I wrong. So much for épater les bourgeois.
There are lots of ways to make a crummy grade in a politics class.
Here's one of them:
When it comes to theories of international relations, the Sex
Pistols had it right: Their classic song "Anarchy in the U.K."
is not only a punk paean to excess and self-destruction, but is
also a concise summary of the main tenets of the realist theory.
The lyrics, "How many ways to get what you want/I use the best/I
use the rest/I use the enemy/I use anarchy," fit perfectly
with realism, a theory which defines the current international system
of competing nation-states as anarchical. According to the realist
theory, states will manipulate the system, or "use anarchy,"
in order to "get what [they] want."
Mistake: Audition material for Triangle Club
summer before my freshman year of college, I read This Side of
Paradise. I was riveted by F. Scott Fitzgerald '17's description
of Triangle Club as "a great seething anthill," and immediately
wanted to become a member. Since I couldn't sing, dance, act, or
do technical work, I figured I could join the club as a writer.
For the application process, I submitted several writing samples,
one of which was a musical piece entitled "Lobster is a Crustacean."
The song wasn't up to Triangle Club standards, and I got hosed.
Admittedly, it's not hard to see why. Here are selected lyrics:
(to be sung by a lobster)
I am a lobster.
I have antennae and a shell.
Eat me steamed, eat me broiled.
With butter I taste swell.
Lobster is a ...
Lobster is a ...
Lobster is a ...
I'd like to blame Career Services for this one, but it isn't really
their fault. Career Services, after all, dissuaded me from writing
a résumé in the first place. They said that it was
gauche to apply for an internship. Apparently, the tactic nowadays
is to "inquire," preferably with an organization or company
with which you or your family has a "relationship."
Since I don't have a ticket to the old boys' club, I ended up
writing a résumé anyway. Not that it did any good:
I got turned down by the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie
Council on Ethics and International Affairs, and a couple of other
places. Looking back, I can see why. My objective statement is a
tad bit overwrought. And maybe I lost credibility with the whole
William Safire bit:
I am a driven, self-motivated college student whose interest in
the field of international relations is rivaled only by a keen desire
to find summer employment that doesn't involve the donut industry.
A writer presently employed as a columnist for the Princeton Alumni
Weekly, I am a staunch supporter of the well-turned phrase and an
enemy of the dangling participle and misplaced modifier. My editorial
abilities and utter grasp of the subtleties of the English language
put William Safire to shame.
Yeah, well, nobody's perfect.
can reach Kate at email@example.com