“College is a time to explore what you love. Don’t worry about your major,” said a beaming comp lit major to a room full of wide-eyed prospective students and their parents. This former econ major sat on a panel at Barnard’s admitted student weekend trying to convince us all that college was a magical time of self-discovery and intellectual exploration. Meanwhile, my mother ever so cynically shifted in her seat next to me and rolled her eyes. “Yes, but where will she get a job?” her look said.
No doubt, Career Services offices on both sides of the street are trying to answer that question. In my three years at Barnard, I have noticed a clear and seemingly calculated shift in the types of employment we are encouraged to consider. Not a week goes by that I don’t receive an “Attend Morgan Stanley Networking Event!” email in my inbox. Yes, the fact that Deborah Spar is on the Goldman Sachs board of directors probably has a lot to do with it, but administrations at both schools are clearly trying to push students toward certain stable, well paying occupations.
If you sincerely want to go into finance, that’s great—and the university will certainly help you get there—but as Amber Tunnell explores in this week’s lead, many seem to fall back on finance jobs as if there were no other options. It is certainly true that if you don’t want to work in finance, you can apply to grad school or join TFA—there is hardly a prescriptive application to fill out and submit for post-graduation employment. Yet I reject the idea that we are helpless to work outside of given, safe frameworks and jobs.
In this week’s Eye to Eye, we interview San Kim, founder of tech startup ShowMe and a music major who graduated from CC in 2006. Kim’s story is just one of many that show how, for everyone who goes straight into investment banking, there are also artists, freelancers, and entrepreneurs who live outside the safe mold of traditional employment.
In short, I still agree with that enthusiastic comp lit major. If going to college is only a box checked on the way to a job you don’t want, then what’s the point?