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BERKELEY'S NEWS • FEBRUARY 01, 2023

Ring in the New Year with our 2023 New Year's Special Issue!

College recruitment, creme brulee, never-ending fear of the future

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SEPTEMBER 14, 2022

Summer 2022 was supposed to be the summer I found myself.

Overlooking the shimmering French skyline on a family vacation, there was nothing that should’ve made me think otherwise. Just a month ago, I was in Manhattan recruiting for some of the top investment banks in the world, and walked away with an offer from the biggest bank in the world. 

But while I sat at a Parisian pop-up trying to chow down burnt creme brulee at the end of my summer, I couldn’t understand why it only felt perfect in theory. There was an uncomfortable feeling in the air and it was more than the overbearing smell of nearby cigarettes. It was a sense of pure anxiety, for the future.

I had just spent the summer accomplishing one of the biggest things my collegiate brain could think of. And yet the only thing in mind was ‘what comes next?’

See — no one ever tells college students that a recruitment cycle is the end of the world. Because well, it technically isn’t. But as far as our near-sighted minds could process, a summer of trying to break into some of the largest firms in the industry is riddled with emotional turmoil and stressful frenzy. 

Because underneath a sea of LinkedIn posts and career fair announcements, the truth of internship recruiting is that it’s heart-wrenchingly stressful. Thoughts like where your career will take you, which company you will end up in and how to climb the corporate ladder faster than everyone else stick to your mind like super glue.

While people try to be unfazed and confident, the act of nonchalance is merely that: an act. I had just spent six weeks of what was supposed to be a relaxing summer flipping through countless pages of the Wall Street Journal, endless hours of preparation and submitting applications until my fingers hurt. I cared so much that I was nothing but chalant. 

In my case, the hard work paid off. I ended up getting an offer from my dream company in my dream location, but I can’t help but reflect back to the rejections that I experienced before the result. My experience was just one experience, and it isn’t necessarily the standard. If anything, achieving something huge after months of hard work has almost become an industry anomaly.

We all work hard, and we look the same on paper. It’s difficult to convince people that you are better than the rest of the applicant pool. Because well, you’re not. None of us are.

The thing is, companies are smart enough to realize there is no real supremacy between college students. The first step within the recruiting process is to realize that rejection isn’t necessarily a reflection of yourself. Our system is so saturated, it has come to a point where talent can only take us so far.

Regardless, I’ve learned a few techniques to make the experience a little less daunting and a little more optimistic. For one, I finally understood that just like the dating world, we have many options when it comes to our careers. 

Just like your high-school boyfriend, that specific company you’re so tied to is probably not the love of your life. I learned to digest that acceptance into a specific industry definitely is not a means to satisfaction, and it certainly is not a cure-all for all the displeasure you feel in your life. 

As I got older, I began to realize that not everything comes with a snap of my magical fingers. It takes a lot of preparing, analyzing and studying a company in order to secure a first-stage interview. 

Also, every choice I make will be impermanent. The important thing to note during stressful processes like recruitment is that a single choice is never an end-all. After landing one job this past summer, I still can do nothing but think about what comes next. And if I continue living in that rainstorm of what ifs, I lose the ability to fully absorb what is in front of me. 

I guess I’m writing this to teach myself all the things I try to tell others. What was the point of achieving anything if I was going to stay wrapped up in a whirlpool of my own expectations? I could always do better, work better, get better. But there comes a time when my dissatisfaction reaps the failure of my highest duty as a human being — to just live. 

There is a French saying of three words, “joie de vivre,” or a buoyant enjoyment of life. While I didn’t possess this gaiety before, I’m starting to feel it now. I’m beyond grateful for everything I achieved during this hiring cycle, the wonderful people I’ve met and the amazing place I ended up. As I finish swatting away the last bit of nearby cigarette smoke, I can finally bask in the beauty of life’s uncertainty.

I guess the French were right, there really is nothing more enjoyable than the present. I know the future is coming and I’ll be ready to face it when it does. But for now, my creme brulee is getting cold.

Vivitsaa Dhakal is the managing publisher. Contact her at [email protected].
LAST UPDATED

SEPTEMBER 14, 2022


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