Q&A: Rachel Marek '17, Design Engineer, McNamara Salvia

April 29, 2019

Rachel, a member of the Class of 2017, recounts her transition from being a student to life after Princeton, including obstacles she has faced following graduation. 

Describe your professional and personal journey since graduating from Princeton. 

My professional journey has been quite significant since graduating from Princeton in 2017. I actually did not receive a job offer until after graduation, which is quite different than most, just due to the nature of my industry and the fact that most firms expect that you have a graduate degree. I also went on quite a personal journey the past few years. From discovering what I wanted to pursue, the type of job I'm really interested in and that the location I'm in really mattered to me in the end.

I think I've encountered quite a few hurdles. They ranged from feeling frustrated at interviews because someone was surprised that Princeton even had an engineering program to not loving my first job and where I was living. While all jobs are work you should enjoy for the most part, what I was doing and the position I was in was not what I had hoped for. So navigating being discontent with the position I was in and changing that.

Also realizing the things that you thought weren't important to you really are. Professionally and also personally at Princeton, I was okay with wanting to do whatever and live wherever as long as it was somewhat inline with structural engineering. The past two years definitely have changed my thoughts about that.

What or who helped you the most after you graduated?

Definitely, my family has helped me the most after graduating. They keep reminding me why I was doing the things I was doing and that everything would work out in the end. They also have been very helpful with knowing how to do "adult" things such as your taxes. 

Outside of work, what were one or two of the biggest things you had to adjust to after leaving Princeton?

I think the biggest thing to adjust to is that you're no longer in such close proximity with your friends. It just makes it a bit more challenging to find times and places to get together. Also it's more challenging to make new friends. I've really had to push myself out of my comfort zone to try and meet new people.  

What is a piece of advice you wished you would have received in preparation for life after Princeton?

I'd wished I'd have told myself that it's okay to not have everything figured out and that the people around you are most likely in the same boat as you no matter what it seems like from the outside.