It’s that time of year when you see the incongruous business suits striding around campus. Students are settling into their classes, juggling 20 units and hunkering down for winter quarter. But all 20 units take the back seat to the infamous career search. There is a lot of hype about “competitive internships.” There is a lot of talk about finance. Lots of info sessions. Too much schmoozing. And an open playing field to trample your friends if it means getting ahead.
There is a distinctive climate on campus that was not here when I left for break. It’s an electrical charge from all the stressed-out competitors seeking the same position. There is a zoomed-in quality to conversations. I hear so many musings about what will transpire this summer and very little about how that fits into a bigger picture. McKinsey. Goldman. Then what?
Let’s just say for a moment that you don’t get that competitive internship. You don’t get any grants to do research on campus. And you’re too old to go to summer camp. It’s going to be okay, I promise.
The stakes feel high, and rightly so. Consulting is competitive. However, there are alternatives that I don’t hear students consider. I too forget to consider them once I’m on campus. You could get a job as a barista for the summer, make some money, learn plenty and still have a successful life after school. You might even learn more waiting tables than you would taking a road to Wall Street that is already neatly paved, with safety railings to boot.
There is an all-or-nothing attitude engendered by the recruitment process that equates a high-paying internship with success and anything else with failure. What I want to emphasize is that no matter where you end up this summer, you will learn. You will explore; you will figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. And if you do end up somewhere unexpected – i.e. not at Goldman – you will have a perspective on the rest of your college years that your peers who follow the yellow brick road will lack. So, who’s going to that info session on the 28th?
Amused? Confused? Outraged? Share your thoughts with Renée at firstname.lastname@example.org.