CARLSON: Vocations to Match Our College Degrees
Published: Friday, January 31, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014 01:01
If you are a junior or senior, you know the stress of finding a job or a prestigious summer internship. The students in suits moving through Leavey Center, resumes in hand, march to meet with bankers and consultants in the hopes of having their education validated by a job offer and a signing bonus. And if you haven’t been working on your resume, you are either going to law school or living in denial. Sitting, waiting for your case interview, you can see all the consulting firms and banks marked by plaques on the wall, indicating their status as a partner with the career center after scooping up Georgetown grads. Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, we know them well.
My high school college counselor used to refer to the college search as a match to be made, not a prize to be won. It was hard not to feel the competitive edge then, and it’s still hard not to feel it now, especially when jobs are limited and everyone over the age of 22 asks, “So what are you going to do with that major?”
Yet this is only part of the Georgetown experience.
From a student’s first tour of campus and NSO, students are introduced to the classic Georgetown phrases that people are so quick to quote: “Cura Personalis,” “men and women for others” and “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” just to name a few. These phrases embody the Jesuit ideal that makes Georgetown so special. We are taught about issues of inequality and suffering in the world and are encouraged to serve and volunteer. We are taught that our education is not simply for a career but for its own sake.
For many, this is exciting and liberating. The idea of becoming a man or woman for others gives a sense of higher purpose. For many, Georgetown teaches the importance of finding a vocation, not just a job.
Yet, when it comes to career counseling, where is the emphasis on vocation? Where is the advice on how to translate issues and passions into a career? How are we supposed to turn a career in banking, consulting or even government service into a vocation? As Georgetown students, we are educated in the importance of finding a vocation, but we are not given the tools to find it once we leave the front gates.
This may be an impossible task to ask of Georgetown. In almost every class, my professors have confessed that they do not have all the answers, especially when it comes to finding your calling. This problem, finding one’s vocation, is a central struggle that everyone faces and, as it appears, few overcome. No professor, dean or college counselor can hand out the answer to the question, “What should I do with my life?”
Yet Georgetown has an obligation to push us to think about this more than it does. While some people may be blessed with a few fantastic mentors and are able to identify their mission in life early on, this struggle is not uncommon for those facing graduation. After four years of education in Georgetown’s Jesuit values, they should take it a step further and provide this sort of encouragement in the job search. The disjunction between the messages you receive entering Georgetown and the advice you are given upon exiting is a disservice to the Jesuit education and legacy of this university. We ought to go to school not hoping to get a job after graduation, but rather aspiring to find our purpose in life. We need to challenge ourselves to keep this a priority, and we should demand that our mentors and advisers help us work through these issues instead of letting us carelessly fall into what is expected: a high paying job at a large, well-marketed firm that hires undergraduates.
If we truly want to show that we have learned anything important while at Georgetown, we should not reflect on which firm we will be working for or how much we will be making. Instead, we should be considering what will bring us the most happiness and how we can best serve the community as men and women for others.
Kent Carlson is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.
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