This past week I was watching the Netflix documentary “Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal” and something that was explained in the documentary was very interesting. While the whole documentary was fascinating and I highly recommend anyone to watch, the college counselors’ view of the scandal were very memorable. The counselors talk about how most kids do not want to go to these prestigious schools their parents are paying for them to get accepted into. But the kids do not really care where they go, it is more the parents living vicariously through their kid’s college experience. The idea that going to a more prestigious school will get you farther in life is something that just came up during the past century. A degree is a degree is a degree, therefore it should not be important how you get the degree but that you got it.
The counselors talk to the fact that people think getting into the best schools will make you the best and consequently get the best jobs, while we know that isn’t true. But this got me thinking about not only college (because that aspect does not really apply to me anymore) but for jobs and internships. Being in college at the moment, the big thing is internships. If you don’t have one, then you better hope you are qualified enough without one for a job. Unless you have a very specific major like engineering, you can do without an internship and seemingly get just as good of a job as you would with an internship. The concept of internships as a whole just began within the last few years, which is why they are so important now. We live in an internship culture, this is one where we are so competitive to be the best, get the most prestigious positions, and one-up each other that we do not even care what position we actually get. A lot of people get internships just to say they have one, and end up hating every minute of it, but we think we cannot succeed without them; therefore it is crucial to get one that looks good on a resume.
This competitive environment we have been raised in is very toxic for all aspects of life, not just professionally. We have been taught by society that if we are not the smallest, smartest, or most successful in general then we are failing at life. And let me tell you, growing up in this competitive environment has been anything but useful. We are now the generation that consistently seeks validation from others, questions our abilities, and values ourselves based on our social media. Therefore, living in this internship culture is detrimental for so many reasons.
Along with internships, we are scrambling to find the perfect job straight out of college, and spoiler alert, that “perfect job” is most likely not going to be found right when you graduate. There is not only this competitive nature that has been instilled in us, but also the idea of having our whole lives together at 22. I think it is absolutely crazy to ask a 21 or 22 year old what they want to do with their lives, as most Americans switch careers at least 7 times in their lives. What I think I want to do now may be a completely different idea in 6 years, so why are we supposed to know exactly what we want to do at 18 when we enter college, great question. As I am about to graduate within the next year, there is anxiety creeping up about how I am going to find the perfect job straight out of college. There is anxiety about getting the best internship for my last summer before I graduate. There is so much anxiety not only for me but for almost every college student I know. But something I also know is that just having a degree will give me a leg up for any position I might apply for. There isn’t any reason to stress because as a college graduate I will get a job, it might not be the perfect one I imagined I would have right out of college, but I know I will get one.
This stigma around getting internships and jobs is so detrimental to college aged kids, and we need to break the stigma that there are no jobs available for us. Yes, the pandemic has put a damper on the number of jobs that are currently available, however vaccines are rolling out and the world is slowly getting back to normal. So, there shouldn’t be any stress about post-grad, because we will get jobs, they just may not be the ones we have on our bucket-list just yet.
So, to the girl who will get a job, let me say again you will. While life post-grad will be unpredictable, there is no reason to worry. We already have so much going on in our daily lives that we don’t need to add any added pressure. We will get jobs; you didn’t work your bootie off of four years to not get one. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t aim big, because you definitely should, but I am saying that you do not need to put so much pressure on yourself for the perfect job the minute you graduate college. So, take a breath because I know applications, interviews, and the daunting thought of waiting for a possible acceptance call is stressful enough as is. All we can do is try our best in our classes, be active in our community, and apply for those jobs and be authentic. That is something I cannot stress enough, don’t be some robot in an interview just to get the “best” position. Be authentic, be yourself, because if they really want you for the position they should get the real you. Take a breath, study, be the real you and you’re going to go so far.