How can you prepare for corporate America while you’re in college? I went to boarding school before enrolling at CMC grew accustomed to the idea of living on a campus and the rhythm of classes, studying, and athletics. The Silicon Valley Program is a sort of crash course in the society most of us will experience once well leave cozy world of institutionalized education. There are teething problems, varying in severity for each individual, which we are thus exposed to on this program and which worry me. Assuming the issue is not unique to myself, I’ll endeavor to address challenges that we are often aware of but have not found need to come to terms with while at college.
There is as issue of professionalism. As students we have a choice to go to class or not, to put effort into our work or not. It quickly becomes evident that it is possible do well without going to every class or reading assignments. In an office, this luxury is significantly diminished. As students, how can we learn to be professional in our work?
During no regular period in college does anyone expect to find you studying with commitment in the same chair for eight hours. To do this five days in a row at college sounds draconian. We are used to 11am class and long procrastination sessions. Imagine you are studying, lets say on a Tuesday afternoon with no tests or papers until at least Friday, how many minutes out of each hour do you spend working intently? Procrastination in a cubicle is acceptable but on the level we do it at school (or the blatant manner in which we procrastinate) it could lead to missed promotions or being fired. As a student, how could I find the commitment to work contently for eight hours?
Instead of heading to Collins at 5pm you will be getting into some sort of vehicle for a commute – or you will still be in the office working. When you get home there will be time for two activities. For most people one of those will be preparing/eating dinner. So you have one left. What is the one thing you would like to do every day to add flare to the monotony of the workweek? You have to know yourself well to answer this question, watching NetFlix several times a week for years will leave you unhappy. As students, with so much free time, how can we learn what we really value?
These three issues – professionalism, commitment, and limited freedom – are the ones that I have found most difficult over the past six weeks.
The obvious solution to all these issues is to have a job that you adore, but I’ve learned from the several networking events we’ve attended that this is highly elusive. What you dislike the least can also eventually become confused with something you really enjoy doing. Then, at social events, you can at least feign to be as interested in your career as Richard Branson standing beside his spaceship. It’s frightening how frequently this happens. So, as students, I would urge my peers to do a few things. This first is to throw off any pressure you feel to pursue any specific career. Not because it is wrong to be influenced by those you respect, or to prioritize financial security, but because you are likely to fail or be marginally successful if those are the foundation of your career. Second, work to be a professional student. I feel that college is teaching us new things without providing a strong incentive structure to commit us to our studies. Without that, college exists on a small scale, taking up only a fraction of our lives, and we struggle to realize that it is leading us towards jobs that will define our lives. Suppose, perhaps, that grades did not exist and your teachers were your boss. You proceed to the next semester if they give their approval.
Austin Teece ’16
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Berkeley Research Group