Cara at Common Cause Illinois


Name: Cara

Year: Junior

Major(s): Anthropology, Legal Studies


CFS Program: Field Studies in Social Justice

As an anthropology major, I am often asked what I want to do after I get my undergraduate degree. Usually, I deflect, and perhaps mention that I have a second major or that I have background in these three, four, five other fields. The truth is, in the winter quarter of my junior year, I realized that I was unsure 1) whether I will finish my other major, 2) whether I chose the right major for careers I am potentially interested in pursuing, and 3) what those careers might be.

When I wrote my application to transfer to Northwestern as a spring-semester freshman at a large state school, I scoured the university’s websites looking for specific pull factors I could cite in my essay. In truth, what mattered was that upon visiting, I felt that Northwestern, unlike the school I was attending, was what I had envisioned my college experience to be – and, I hope, this was what stood out in my application. However, through that exploration, I discovered many of the special experiences that Northwestern offers, and I remember writing about the Chicago Field Studies program in one of my transfer essays.

To be able to explore professional paths, gain work experience, and learn about possible futures for yourself while getting academic credit is a special thing. It is not easy to commute downtown at 8 AM when for the last three years, your classes never required you to be awake at such an ungodly hour. It is not easy to navigate the office dress code when you have been in an exclusive relationship with leggings for the last too-many-to-admit years. It is not easy to have a three hour seminar at the end of your packed Wednesday when you have barely had a dinner break and are more than ready for bed. Yet at the end of each workday, I can look back and say, “I learned something today” about myself, about professional life, about potential careers, and/or about the work I am doing.

Halfway through this quarter, I still have five weeks left in my internship, and there is a lot left to do. We have upcoming events with partner organizations, longer term projects to complete, and all the little things that pop up in the meantime. I can point to accomplishments like having designed a civic engagement and organizing training for high school students, meeting my own elected officials at work events, and building a strong professional relationship with my boss. But mostly, I can point to myself and say, I am achieving and learning, and therefore I am fulfilling my goals for the quarter, and I am thankful for the wonderful experience that is the Chicago Field Studies program.