Here we go again with the questions – What do you want to do after your ASC year? Where do you want to live? When are you going to get a girlfriend? I wouldn’t say that I am nervous of what is to come in the next few weeks, but I am getting hesitant. I am going to tell you that ASC has been a fantastic experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it does not offer a silver platter with a job lined up in the end. For most of my ASC cohorts, the “what’s next” is already answered. They are going to be professionals in the corporate world, students in grad school programs, or continuing as educators. I wish them the very best in their careers and it has been a pleasure to serve side by side with them for the past 10 months. I have learned a lot from them, and I am proud to call them my friends.
As for me – who really knows? Like I have posted before, it is God’s ultimate plan. I am aware that the realm of education is not for me right now; yet ASC has opened my eyes to the possibility of coming back. If I do, I would like perfect my craft by returning to school and earning another degree – theology would be the best fit for me perhaps. As for now, very similar to my De Smet Jesuit High School (St. Louis, MO) community brother, Tim McCoy, I want to re-enter the field to which I studied four years for – marketing. I loved the idea of marketing from the first moment I entered the classroom because to me marketing is like a game and my opponents are every other agency. I would be constantly challenged by them, as well as myself, to become better and to continually think outside the box. I know that if I would like to continually support my De Smet Jesuit community, I need to hone in on my marketing skills and develop new ones.
I am being asked this question more often – would you have wanted to serve somewhere else for your ASC experience? That question is simple – No. Even though my first choice was elsewhere, I am very fortunate that De Smet Jesuit offered me a position right back in Saint Louis. Coming home to Saint Louis has been a wonderful experience being with family and friends, but coming “home” to De Smet Jesuit has been the true gift. I knew that De Smet’s community was fun, but I didn’t know how much fun they have. Every one of them, staff and faculty, loves the students in their own unique, corky way. They support each other and challenge each other to the next level of education. They have truly welcomed me home.
It was a unique situation teaching at my alma mater. The hardest experience was befriending old teachers of mine and calling them by their first names – especially those who I did not do well in their class while I was a student. Gene Bender, physics teacher, was the hardest. I remember specifically us sitting on a bench during the beginning of the school retreat overlooking the Mississippi River and him telling me, “You gotta call me Gene.” I don’t know why it was so hard because I sweated bullets and stuttered when I said his name. He said with a smile, “You’ll get used to it.” I have received many key pieces of post-grad advice from my De Smet Jesuit community, but Gene gave me the best.
He asked me the question, “What do you want to do next year?” He went on and told me that he was an ASC once and initially hated teaching. Then, he decided to go corporate to CAT for a few years, but then eventually returned to teaching. If you don’t know Gene, he is one of the most veteran and well-respected teachers in our building. He said that he looks at his contract every year and takes a few days before he accepts. He asks himself the question, “Will this make me happy?” He turned to me, looked me right in the eye and said, “In 10 years when you are 30, I want to see a happy Matthew Beermann.”
The first job I take after ASC might not make me happy, but you will be damn sure that when I am 30 I will be happy. Through trial and error, I will begin to understand happiness in a career. It will take time just as everything in my ASC year has taken time with grading, prepping lessons, driving to practices, sitting through meetings, etc.
Everything De Smet Jesuit has offered has given me happiness and it wouldn’t be without Alum Service Corps. I look forward to the continuing chapter of ASC’ers and hearing their stories of triumph. Thank you everyone for the continued prayers and wishes of us. It truly means a lot – especially happiness. Now I ask you this question – “What are you going to do that makes you happy?”