Tuesday, December 4, 2012


My dad has always told me "Life is a series of trade-offs, Jilsie. You have to realize that not everything is going to be perfect all the time, but that there's always a silver lining."It's a lesson I started to listen to sometime in high school and that has followed me all the way to my inevitable career path.

Part of public policy is weighing the costs against the benefits. We often call these trade-offs (or compromise, in some cases); what we are willing to give up, in order to gain.

In graduate school, there are many trade-offs we face in our daily decision-making:

  • Turn a paper in on time, but sacrifice sleep
  • Give up sleep to get that paper in time, but sacrifice some of the quality
  • Going to the library instead of going to the bar
  • Giving up a shift at work (and income) to finish class assignments

Most of my trade-offs have fallen into one of the above categories. My favorite one has been skipping bike rides with friends and going to the gym to work out, in order to finish papers and other assignments. One trade-off I have NOT given up is sleep. It may leave me turning in assignments a bit late or sub-par in quality, but it means that I'm not snapping at people or lashing out when it comes down to the wire (which is where I am right now in the semester).  

Trade-offs are also coming in the form of job opportunities. A few weeks ago, I was offered a job at a high end bicycle shop in Berkeley. This time, I wouldn't be selling, but working in an administrative and managerial position. In addition, I would be responsible for incorporating advocacy involvement into the shop's overall mission and goals. Aside from being able to work alongside some really cool guys, I'd get to work with one of my best friends, as well as one of the funniest mechanics that I know. Obviously, this is a great opportunity for me, to finally combine my skills with my passion.

But you know what happens next: something is standing in the way. That "something" is a dream internship position with the City. I applied for three different internships within the same division: parking policies, Complete Streets projects, and bikeway and facilities design. Again, an opportunity that combines both my passions and my skills. (Not to mention a SWEET pay and a foot in the door).

How do you choose? One job was offered before I find out about the other one. Do I say Thanks, but I'll pass, under the assumption that you'll get the dream job? Or do I say Here's the situation, let me get back to you?

Luckily, I didn't have to do either.

Unfortunately, I wasn't selected for 2 of the 3 internship positions. I also have considerable doubts in being chosen for the last one. 

But now, I can consider the job as a real possibility, rather than a missed opportunity. I still have to lay my future plans out on the line for the owner, but when in doubt, tell the truth.

While I'm mildly bummed out that I didn't get the internship, I've picked up where I've left off and have been working to make more money, finding a client for my MPR, and finishing up my work for the semester. 

The other silver lining is that I made the cast of Vagina Monologues, showing end of February. Not working 16 hours a week with the City means I can make all rehearsals and put on a great performance. Shameless plug: please come support Mills, as well as a cast of incredibly talented ladies, this February! More information to come. :)

And for your reading and logic pleasure, 
a pie graph displaying one of life's best trade-offs.

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