I was expecting to walk into Wall Street, and instead I entered a corporate campus. The company's expectation was that I would stumble in around 10 a.m. wearing whatever I had been wearing the day before and head straight for the coffee pot, and then sit at my computer and work feverishly for the next nine hours. The only thing that made work different from Reed was that if I got up to take a 15-minute coffee break and ended up talking to a friend for an hour and then playing one quick game of chess before returning to my desk, I would be fired.
I found that in some ways working was much easier than being a student at Reed. Oddly enough, the hours spent buried deep in the gut of the library ingesting Homer, absorbing Foucault, and regurgitating Tolstoy improved my ability to learn a new software program or generate ideas for a cd-rom interface. In fact, my Reed education made work excruciatingly easy, and I often missed the brain stretching that Reed required.
I wasn't surprised that I ended up working for a Reed-like company. During my job search, I tended to gravitate towards companies that operated much like Reed, such as Arts & Science, a Reed-run and Reed-dominated web publishing company. Located in one room of a renovated warehouse, it consists of a couple of Reedies and their Macintoshes, a few crowded bookshelves, and a soda machine. The number for pizza delivery is posted near the phone, and lunchtime discussions are apt to turn to Reed's showing at the Stanford rugby match, the whereabouts of the Doyle Owl, and one's score on the morality test.
I thought that by working in the Real World I would be leaving Reed behind. But everywhere I went I ran into Reedies, Reed legends, and Reed-like companies. I moved 600 miles away from Reed, only to be introduced to a co-worker wearing a Nitrogen Day t-shirt. I tried to interview anonymously, only to be quizzed about Reed lore. I downplayed my Reed education only to be hired because of it.
Ultimately, I realized that Reed's reputation for spawning intelligent life was more important than the fact that I didn't know how to use Windows 95. As for the future, I think I'll stick with the Real World until I start yearning for 4 a.m. with 10 more pages to write, 300 pages of Freud to read, and a crashing thesis disk. With that in mind, it might be a while before I graduate from my corporate campus.
Sarah Scott '96 is a technical writer in the Bay Area. She is currently working on a book about Generation X.