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To a Brown senior the practicalities of life after college can be as daunting as the stack of rejection letters arriving daily in the mail: What if my boss is a jerk? What if my paychecks too small? And what does business-casual really mean anyway? The anxiety is enough to make anyone flat-out refuse to leave the world inside the Van Wickle Gates.

Five recent graduates returned to campus in January to allay students anxieties about those first years on the job. The forum kicked off the annual Career Week, in which more than 130 alumni and 1,000 students took part.

The young grads advised students on finding a cheap New York apartment (you dont need a doorman, and Brooklyn isnt bad) and making friends outside the office (go to a lot of parties). Rachel Zimet 01 described a client who told her, You look younger than my daughter, and she hasnt even started college yet.

Much of the forum focused on dream jobs that turned out less than dreamy. Amy Becker 00 moved to New York to be an assistant toy buyer at FAO Schwarz, but the work was disappointing, and four months later she was sending out rsums. Becker gave a plug for the Brown Alumni Network, saying her next job came from the friend of a friend of an alumnus whom she contacted through the online database (alumni.brown.edu).

The message to students was: persist. When Jocelyn Aframe 00 didnt get along with her boss, she said, she went to the head of the firm and said shed leave if the situation didnt improve. Not only was she assigned to a new supervisor, she was sent to a management course on how to work with difficult people. You dont have to stay at your first job a year, Zimet said. You can break your lease. You can say sorry to your roommate and your boss, and you can do something different.

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