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Laurie Laker ’12

Graduate Research Assistant for Dartmouth College's Institute of Writing and Rhetoric

Self-designed Minor in History and Political Science

"My work essentially consists of reading undergraduate papers, and examining them for certain components/qualities based upon the curriculum of the writing courses offered at Dartmouth. In addition, I'm working as a communications writer for Grassroot Soccer, an NGO that promotes HIV/AIDS education and prevention, predominantly in Africa, but having also just begun a program in Ukraine. I'll be starting my master's degree very soon at Dartmouth. I'll be studying globalization studies, hopefully finishing the degree by December of next year."

"For others, without the Block Plan experience, [my job] would be a struggle."

Internships and networking

"Internships are becoming more and more competitive, and I've been fortunate enough to have had several that've provided me experience and skills that make me employable. My internship with the CC Communications Office last summer was crucial, as was my working as a journalist at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. These two provided me with work experience in fast-paced and quality-based environments, and they forced me to ‘up my game’ as a writer and a reporter. Networking has also been useful, and I've found that taking the first step by simply making contact with someone is crucial. If you find someone whose job or work you're interested in, send them an email or make a phone call. The worst that can happen is that they say they can't help you. CC alumni are among the most receptive of these requests, and I've had good advice from several graduates in fields that I'm interested in going into."

Finding a balance

"Once I took to writing things down, even leisure activities like playing soccer or eating lunch, I found the balance and excelled. The balance, in my experience, can only come for you when you're honest enough with yourself to admit that you might be struggling. It's a tough process, and requires some serious courage and guts. If you can do it, there's no telling just how far you can go."

Block Plan benefits

"The Block Plan has been a lifesaver in the post-CC world. When you're in it, living and breathing it, you don't realize just how useful the system will be in the future. The stress is unbearable, the workload insane, and the commitments you have to other activities take up valuable free time. All I can say is that it's a wonderful system that offers its students brilliant time-management skills and an incredibly useful work rate that'll pleasantly surprise future professors, employers etc. Using my current job as an example, to read and grade 20 or more papers per night isn't a problem. For others, without the Block Plan experience, it'd be a struggle."