In 2009, CAROLINE KITCHENER was featured in this magazine as a teen to watch, a student with the intelligence, focus and talent that would get her noticed in the future. So, what has this former New Canaan native been up to since graduating from Convent of the Sacred Heart in 2010? Kitchener earned a BA from Princeton and, soon after, began work on her first book. Post Grad: Five Women and Their First Year Out of College was published this year to strong reviews. We caught up with Kitchener after she filed her first story for New Canaan-Darien, which, fittingly, is “Teens to Watch”.
Must Read: Kitchener’s first novel follows four of her college classmates in the year following graduation, as they navigate a highly transitional period in their lives.
Q&A WITH CAROLINE KITCHENER
What’s your best advice for the teens featured in this issue? Make friends with your professors in college. They want to get to know you. Trust me, office hours are the most under-utilized college privilege. I owe everything to a few mentors who invested in my success.
What was the best advice you received as a teen? Spend your free time on an activity that you love, not one you think will look good on a college application. Because if you love it, it will look good!
Was there a teacher who had a strong influence on you? I wouldn’t have had the courage to pursue a writing career if it weren’t for my high school English teacher, William Mottolese. He saw the writer in me before I did.
When you were young did you think you would have a book under your belt in your mid-twenties? No way! I’d dreamed of being a writer since I was in grade school, but I never thought it was actually possible. I thought I would be a lawyer.
We love your new book. How would you summarize the plot in a few brief sentences? I’m so glad you liked it. The story follows four of my Princeton classmates for one year after graduation, jumping back and forth between their stories and my own. It’s part memoir, part reporting, and highlights what’s hard about the transition from college to real life.
What was the hardest part about writing the story? Figuring out what I was writing about. I was writing the story while I was living it, so it was difficult to zoom out and have perspective on the experience. The easiest part was getting to know the women I interviewed. We very quickly became good friends.
What’s next for you professionally? I just started a new job as an editor at The Atlantic.
You no longer live in New Canaan. Do you miss it? I miss my mom!
What was the best part about growing up in New Canaan? The New Canaan Library, my happy place.