Although my GPA has been devastated by economics courses, it somehow earned me an interview at Boston Consulting Group.
I had plenty of time to prepare, so I put it off. I figured I knew how to nail a behavioral interview, thanks to the apply-for-everything culture at Georgetown.
When this semester began, I finally sat down with my brand-new used copy of Marc Cosentino’s “Case in Point.” Suddenly, I was bombarded with questions: What is 5,987 divided by 24? What is the market size for gumballs in the United States? Are you kidding me?
My new fun-sucking friend Marc terrified me with those questions in the first chapter of his book. Except the last one, which is mine.
On that cold Friday morning, I arrived at the Bethesda office and sat down in front of my interviewer. He wasted no time. “Ready for the case?” I then received a case study in which I had to figure out the costs of exporting gas to foreign countries, but making sure to convert it to liquid first. Ah, yes.
My friends asked me how the interview went, and I told them it went about as well as if I had puked in the well-dressed associate’s lap.
I am a culture and politics major in the School of Foreign Service. I like my English, Spanish and psychology classes. I study things like linguistics, Latin American culture, literature and creative writing. So what the hell am I doing in a blazer and heels at a management consulting firm?
In her New York Times adapted essay, “Even Artichokes Have Doubts,” Yale graduate Marina Keegan attacks the pressured notion of internships and the urgent need to have one — a concept that already has major prevalence at Georgetown.
She described an experience talking to a hedge fund about why she would not apply to one of their jobs. “I got this uneasy feeling that the man in the beautiful suit was going to take my Hopes and Dreams back to some lab to figure out the best way to crush them,” she writes.
At Georgetown, we have our own set of absolute truths. We must be top students, with GPAs higher than at least 3.5. At the same time, we must be involved with probably eight different clubs and organizations. We seek internships that fit our convoluted idea of success. Ideally, they should be within the industries of investment banking or consulting.
I am being facetious. I am spewing extremes. However, I myself have bought into most of these unspoken Georgetown rules, if not all of them. We are not sinful people for dedicating ourselves to this mission, the be-all-end-all that comes with prestige, fortune and 500-plus LinkedIn connections. After all, it is incredibly difficult to be idealistic and optimistic when there are loans to be paid off and rent to be covered. We do it for money. But do we always have to?
As a second-semester junior entering the summer before senior year, I strive to find balance. A summer internship does not make or break your triple-digit salary career.
You will survive with a GPA that took some hits. You do not need to be the director or even be a part of the Students of Georgetown, Inc. to be a successful Georgetown student.
I will look for the jobs that can capitalize on my creativity, writing and language skills, but also might help me live with the ability to pay rent and go to happy hour. Maybe that will eventually be a consulting job, or maybe that is a job that does not exist. But I am tired of the masses of our culture confining us to a handful of socially acceptable indicators of success.
Caitlin Karna is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. Unmasked appears every other Friday.
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