In 2008, graduating from a competitive high school in the town which Amy Adams’ character in The Fighter mocks as “richie-rich Lexington,” Becca found herself bombarded with messages about a specific image of success: A degree from a traditional four-year college, preferably Harvard or Yale.
Instead, Becca took a non-traditional route. Today, at age 24, she’s working towards her Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree at the Harvard Extension School, a flexible program which allows her to work part-time at a Boston start-up.
Despite her busy schedule, Becca found a spare moment to sit down with me at Trident Booksellers and Cafe. Here’s her take…
On her non-traditional education path: “I love it!” Becca says, “While the four-year track supposedly provides students with a sense of community — and the Extension School doesn’t necessarily provide that same community — it’s a great place to learn.” Her fellow students are different ages, from all walks of life. “It’s an interesting mix of perspectives!” she tells me. Since she works part-time, Becca also appreciates the chance to take classes at her own pace.
When I ask Becca how she’s chosen to focus her studies, she quips, “Well, I hate math, and I hate science!” Then, more seriously, she explains she’s in pursuit of a career in the social sciences. A concentration in the social sciences — which the Bachelor of Liberal Arts allows for — allows Becca to explore fields spanning from anthropology to psychology to international relations.
On where she lives: Becca currently lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Brookline, MA, right near bustling and busy Coolidge Corner. She walks ten minutes to work. “Brookline’s very walkable,” she says, “and if I hop on the train, I can be in Boston in 10 or 15 minutes.”
Not having a driver’s license, Becca relies heavily on public transit, and her apartment is conveniently located on a T stop.
On her job: At her non-profit job, Becca wears many hats. She cheerfully rattles off the list of her duties: “I do everything, from admin tasks to supporting my boss, the executive director, to social media and publicity, and a little bit of tech support!” While juggling work and school can be stressful at times, Becca tells me that, thanks to her start-up experience, her skill-set has doubled, even tripled.
On finding time to be creative: With everything on her plate, how does Becca de-stress?
“If there’s no creative outlet, for me, there’s no outlet,” Becca says. That’s why, in addition to working part-time and being a student, she makes time for two loves: Singing and writing. As an alto in one of New England’s top choirs, Becca attends weekly rehearsals. Twice a week, she’s at meetings for Wordplay, a writing group she co-founded. “These are places where I can be present and express myself,” Becca says, “I find them very therapeutic.”
On budgeting her expenses: Becca keeps a detailed spreadsheet of her expenses and income. She also gushes about Mint.com, a free budgeting website, which allows her to track budgets for different things each month. “For instance, I’ll know I only want to spend a certain amount on going out with friends.” She describes Mint.com as particularly user-friendly and visual.
On where she sees herself in 10 years: “Truly? I have no idea where I see myself,” Becca tells me. “One of the things I’ve learned — especially over the past few years — is to take things as they come and deal with them in the moment.”
However, the following items are on her wish list: A career that caters to her interests and skills, a partner, a kid. Actually, maybe three kids.
When asked about how the economy may affect her goals, she acknowledges that finances would factor into her decision about whether or not to have a family someday. “But,” she continues, “at the same time, I don’t want my life to be dictated by whether or not I have ‘X’ amount of money.”
On millennial stereotypes: When asked which millennial stereotype she considers grossly inaccurate, Becca immediately says, “The idea that we lack a good work ethic, mainly because we like to enjoy ourselves.” Fun, she says, shouldn’t be considered contradictory to work; In fact, fun can provide motivation to do a better job.
Becca freely admits, though, that millennials are “spoiled by technology,” too dependent upon mobile devices to gain knowledge and interact with the world. But some millennials actively debunk even that trend. “My twin sister, for example, hates Yelp,” Becca says, “She thinks it’s healthier and more fun to walk around and discover a coffeeshop on her own, rather than rely on reviews and Google Directions.”