- Long ago someone described an analogy that stuck with me, about how much the first four years post-college–the first four years of “life”–mimic progress through an education. Freshman year of “life,” 2008-2009 when I was living in Redwood City, I was figuring out where I was and who I should be becoming, halfway between homesickness for the halcyon school days and feeling like a bona fide adult. Sophomore year, 09-10, saw me getting out of my comfort zone and exploring new territory, having moved to DC. Junior year I “studied abroad” in China. Senior year featured some soul searching (leaving China, beginning the job search) and finally becoming fully and gainfully employed and adultier.
Next month will mark the four year anniversary of my graduation from Stanford. I never would have envisioned that these four years would have looked like this, but it’s certainly been an amusing ride.
Back to the present. I had originally interviewed at Booz Allen Hamilton in October of last year and had been tentatively offered a job shortly thereafter, but not to start until April. In January off I went to Southeast Asia and in February, to that action-packed Caribbean cruise. Within a week of returning I got the phone call I’d been waiting for, with a firm start date from Booz Allen three weeks hence.
So, next up was a whirlwind of packing and shopping (BAH offered a relocation package that took care of all the costs of moving my large quantities of Stuff) and quick goodbye-west-coast trips to AZ and SF. Ro joined me for the trip to DC, and we arrived Apr. 5, preceding my moving truck by a couple of days. The biggest delight of the day was the couch that had been purchased in CA and stubbornly refused to fit through the apartment door. Hey, did you know you can hire people to come to your house, take your furniture apart, and then reassemble it inside?
At Booz Allen, I am a consultant in the Strategy and Organization Capability, Organizational Efficiency and Effectiveness Center of Excellence. Yes, it’s possible to say that in one breath but just barely. What this means practically is that I’m on a project helping the Department of Navy work towards audit readiness by compiling and centralizing information about financial procedures. As far as consulting gigs go, this one has some advantages–I’m on a small, manageable team of 6, it’s a contract expected to last as long as two years, and I’ll have a legit permanentish office, as opposed to sitting at a client site or sitting in temporary office space. One downside is that that office is in Crystal City–this is a commute that involves about 16 mins of walking, 15 mins of metro-riding, and 2-10 minutes of wait time, so not bad (but not as ideal as it would have been to sit in the Booz Allen DC office by my house). My project is still in the ramping-up stages and there are some kinks to iron out (still waiting for that permanent office to be assigned), but all in all this is going to be a good opportunity to do real work and learn a ton.
Meanwhile, things on the “life” side of the Work-Life Balance are swimming along nicely. Somehow I’ve already managed to consolidate/acquire more friends in this go-around than I did in the 09-10 year, so it’s been a busy few weeks and I’m not complaining. Except about how I’m not getting an ideal amount of sleep. It’s a great time to be in DC–good weather (mostly), people excited about summer’s arrival, and lots of new people to meet.
I’m also really happy with my living situation–I’m in a decent-sized studio in a big building on Scott Circle, within a 10-minute walk of three metro lines, the White House, Whole Foods, and tons of restaurants and bars, and in a 25-minute walk I can be in almost every major entertainment district in DC or, like, the Smithsonian. For all my frequent Smithsonian trips.
It’s kind of strange to be able to look forward and not see any major changes on the horizon. This is pretty much the first time since high school that I haven’t known a move was eventually coming, and that I’ve had an occupation that can really go on indefinitely. But meanwhile, I’ve got some exciting plans to look forward to. Matthew and I are doing Birthright Israel in August. I expect to be in CA for weddings etc in August and October. There are a couple of delightful friends planning visits to DC in July. And hopefully along the way there’ll be more local adventures like beach trips.
So, sum total, life is pretty good. It would have surprised me, at college graduation or even at leaving China last year, to know what was going to happen down the road but I guess that’s life. Come visit me in DC and see for yourself!