Senior Wisdom: Hannah Wilentz

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Name, Hometown, School: Hannah Wilentz, Dirty Jerz, College ‘12

Claim to Fame: Dungeon Master of all knowledge related to Housing Services.

Where are you going? New York for a while, New Orleans eventually.

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  1. Avoid dogma in most things: in politics, in love, in choice of careers, in any major life decision.
  2. Wage war against the unpaid internship. There are exceptions but on the whole it is an unfair system that discriminates against kids who can’t afford to work for nothing. Making friends in college is a better way to spend your time than stacking your resume, and most likely you can find a paid job after graduation by simply researching and talking to people about what you’re interested in. When we do take them we can at least voice this in an exit interview, and we shouldn’t worry about offending: deep down I think most employers know it’s unfair, and organizations deserve to be called out on tacitly demanding parents to buy their children a leg up. And if any of us make it out there, remember this and don’t hire anyone full-time unless you can pay them a liveable wage.
  3. If someone says “don’t be a [profession]”, disregard that part and listen to everything else they say to figure out whether it’s even applicable to you. People always tell me not to be an architect—especially architects— and it’s really irritating. Like, you’re not miserable because you’re an architect, dude, you’re miserable because you’re a masochistic egomaniac with a cocaine addiction; stop trying to crush my dreams.

“Back in my day…” P&W, SIPA views, cathedral scaffolding, the Man Suite, the neighborhood piling into the streets in ecstasy after the 2008 election.

Justify your existence in 30 words or less:

I tried to remember recently why I came to Columbia and then I realized: the albino peacocks at St. John the Divine – whoah. Also I still believe in New York.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories?

One spring night, years ago in my impetuous youth, I woke up (became lucid) outside of EC as I was struggling out of the wheelchair to which I was strapped yelling “fuck it, call NYPD” to the St. Lukes/CAVA/NYFD?/staff/squadron of public safety officers that had come to escort me to an IV. I don’t remember anything else but with the expert coaching of friends (“TELL THEM YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER”—”dude they don’t need her social security number”—”WHATEVER WHAT’S YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER”), I made it home to become the only person that my discipline officer had ever met who had convinced CAVA to un-CAVA her. Small, unprofessional victories, you know.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese?

In the words of the great Reni Calister: “I’m a lactose-intolerant lesbian.” Nuff said.

Advice for the class of 2016?

Keep a generous heart. Respect the deadline—I stopped doing so and became an academic degenerate real quick. Don’t pitch True Life: My Homework to anyone you run into on the street—they think they know but they have no idea but also no one cares. Know the signs of a sociopath and don’t date one. If you disagree with the way someone is speaking about women, say so. Good typeface makes any project better (stick with max two, sans-serif + serif, ask your friends in design). Invest in a good pair of long underwear tights and wear them all winter. Your parents get old and sick, sometimes suddenly: talk to them, make your peace with all the family bullshit, and then find out everything about their lives—you will cherish these stories when they are gone. Learn to cook and love thy neighborhood food (Absolute buttered egg bagel, HamDel Betsy/Stallone, Kitchenette Special). Question your sexual identity; don’t speculate endlessly about others’. Go to some version of therapy: it will make your life easier, happier, or at least help you get laid. Do COÖP, take FemSex, live in John Jay, and whatever you do, hold fast to that motherfucking spirit of youth.


Hindsight is 20/20, ain’t it. To everyone I’ve ever hurt: I know it’s all blood under the bridge at this point, but I am sorry. Smaller lessons in regret: if you get wasted, pass out, and pee in a stranger’s bed, take more than three seconds to reconsider your assumption that it’s water and that you should just throw their sheets in their laundry hamper — they will probably figure it out (sorry Eric). Don’t mistake someone else’s car for your dealer’s, and once you get into the correct car don’t leave your phone in it as you get flustered trying to make flirtatious banter about Operation Ivy League (sorry Charles). On that note, don’t lose your phone and think it’s fine to just use gchat to make plans for more than a week (sorry all my friends).

I loved this place wholly, and as a result, I had an absolute blast and learned so much but fucked up often. I remain ever grateful for the patience and affection of my friends. While, unlike JD Salinger, I have thus far managed to fend off the urge to retreat to the countryside and drink my own urine, I can relate to him in this: “There is a real-enough danger, I suppose, that sooner or later I’ll bog down, perhaps disappear entirely, in my own methods, locutions, and mannerisms. On the whole, though, I’m very hopeful.”

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  1. Wtf  

    Bwog, not that I haven't enjoyed these but where's the wisdom from people of color? There's been one out of how many wisdoms so far? We make up 50% of the undergrad population!

  2. Anonymous  

    Hannah is AWESOME!!!

  3. Anonymous  

    hey guys, in case you didn't notice, she's a hipster.

  4. Anonymous  

    this was actually quite nice. thanks for this. i hope i can learn how to get a grip on my time here by the time i graduate as well as this does

  5. Anonymous

    word to the 3rd thing she learned at Columbia

  6. 100+ cover letters

    "most likely you can find a paid job after graduation by simply researching and talking to people about what you’re interested in"


    • Anonymous  

      "most likely you can find a paid job after graduation by simply researching and talking to people about what you’re interested in."

      I'm sure it helps if your last name is Wilentz.

  7. Most of this was just average


  8. GS Senior

    Love the comment about the unfairness of the unpaid internship. Companies now bring in interns and promise them that if they are good workers for at least three months then they might get hired for a full time job. That's bullshit.

  9. Huh  

    I've always been a bit put off by Hannah's routine (hipsterism, rudeness, etc.), but this attempt at a 'hard-bitten SW' kind of takes the cake. I hope she can sustain an alternative lifestyle; I'd hate to have such stories connected eternally with my name.

  10. CC senior  

    i really like reading these but this one by far takes the cake. you can suck it aki and all those other student council people.

  11. EN Senior  

    I really hope she is not a lesbian. I need to date this chick before graduate. I mean if she is that would be totally cool, I probably need a lesbian friend at this point...

  12. .

    you are just the fucking best. wish I had met you earlier in school girl.

  13. B

    This chick sounds cool as fuck.

  14. Anonymous  

    Yes! She seems warm and clear-headed and smart. "Keep a generous heart!" Thank you.

  15. Anonymous  

    "Avoid dogma in most things: in politics, in love, in choice of careers, in any major life decision."

    But not in choice of movie.

  16. Anonymous  

    as somebody who has been fucking up very often lately, this is so good to hear. thank you

  17. Reni Calister Fanatic  

    love your Reni reference! What a goddess, she's seriously missed

  18. Anonymous  

    .. which college?

  19. t

    charles ------ best dealer in morning side !!!! YO WHERE'S HE BEEN AT THO ???? HE HASNT RESPONDED TO ANY THING I TEXTED SINCE WAY BEFORE ST PATRICKS DAY !!!!!!! lol

  20. Anonymous  

    This is really great. Maybe my favorite senior wisdom yet. I think I actually learned something from this person. I wish that I had met her during my time here!

  21. cami  

    Hannah, as always, a pleasure to listen to your wise words.

  22. Anonymous  

    regardless of how you feel about hannah, this is a refreshingly honest, insightful, smart, and pretty funny senior wisdom. Hannah is less worried about her googleability than she is writing something that she feels really does express what she has learned at Columbia, and i admire that.

    also, FUCK unpaid internships.

  23. Andrea Garcia-Vargas  

    Hannah --- it was so lovely meeting you in FemSex. After reading this, I definitely wish I'd gotten to know you better. Probably one of the most genuine senior wisdoms I 've read.
    Best of luck with everything in the future!

  24. Anonymous  

    yoooo SO unabashedly herself. i fucking love it. so proud that i go to school with such badass people

  25. Anonymous  

    I fucking love you Hannah Wilentz. plain and simple. can't be grateful enough for someone like that who always makes you smile

  26. Anonymous  

    hannah's love, wisdom, and generosity are the best gifts a friend could ever have. i love you, hannah wilentz.

  27. Anonymous  

    i actually disagree with the internship comment. its like saying you should wage war against high tuition. there are just some opportunities that are worth making certain sacrifices for. and frankly if you refuse to, someone else will gladly take your spot

    • GS12

      This is the mentality that needs to stop. These companies are taking advantage of us. We need to stop giving ourselves away for free. When we all say no, it will stop. Some of these companies have lots of interns. It's called being cheap and taking advantage of people who are looking for work. The new trend is working for free for at least three months with the possibility of employment if they deem you to be exceptional. It is bullshit.

    • Anonymous

      I agree, internships are necessary. You are not getting paid because you are getting invaluable experience/education without the pressure of actually running shit right away. Someone with an internship is much more qualified for a job after graduation, and I would never hire someone without one. If you aren't learning, then by all means switch internships. If you don't like your internship you should leave as well. But seriously? You can't just casually talk to people and get any awesome job. You have to work for shit. Back in the day it was an apprenticeship. But whatever, don't take it if you don't want it, someone else who wants it more will obviously work harder than you.

  28. Anonymous  

    I don't know her, but after reading this I think I'd like to be Hannah when I grow up. I'll take the advice to heart.

  29. Anonymous  

    hannah, you are amazing.

  30. Anonymous

    Man Suite! Hell yeah!

  31. Anonymous  


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