Tuesday, October 5, 2004 Round off That Resume

We did not mean for it to happen. We did not realize it was happening. But honestly, how much of what we do at Georgetown is for our resumes?

It’s a silent battle students fight. Do we do what we are really interested in or do we do what we think will look good? Present happiness is at stake, and its surrender occurs one small choice at a time.

The pressure to succeed is deeply rooted in our American value system, and much of our identity is tied to how much we have achieved. As students we are making sacrifices for the sake of our future success, whether it be financial or professional accomplishments, and American values and the competitive environment at Georgetown are supporting us the entire way.

In fact, the more sacrifices the better. Unfortunately, it is unclear at what point we are sacrificing too much.

Like the rows of girls at Yates on the ellipticals, Georgetown students are an army of driven machines. One of our most popular hangouts is the second floor of Lauinger Library. Students interviewed for this article claimed to complete 25 hours of homework each week. The Career Center conducts roughly 60 student career-counseling appointments each week and claims that most students at Georgetown do several internships during their four years here.

And unlike most university students, many Hoyas stay in on some weekend nights and reserve Sundays for homework marathons. Why are we doing all of this?

The anxiety we have about post-graduation and real world competition motivates us to sacrifice huge amounts of time and energy, even if we really do not have a clue what we want to do with our lives.

College students are in a somewhat awkward position when it comes to the success game, because unlike professionals who are already in the workforce, we are willing to sacrifice without necessarily knowing what we want.

Because there is no specific goal, we might not know when to stop. We hope that it will all come together in the end, but in the meantime, we try to pack our resumes with as much as possible.

Contributing to our anxiety and our willingness to swap free time for cubicle time is the competitive environment at Georgetown. Not only are we unsure about our own career paths, but we also feel pressured to conform to what everyone else is saying about theirs. Dialogue about career plans is constant at Georgetown, and the result is an unrealistic perception of what other students are really doing.

Not everyone is interning. Many students work on campus and others play sports. Nevertheless, the pre-professionalism frenzy goes unleashed. Nervous energy can sometimes be a positive motivating factor. But in our frenzies, we run the risk of skipping an important step.

In spending so much time in library cubicles studying to get an “A,” in working at an unpaid just-for-the-sake-of-my-resume internship instead of working at an inspiring no-name NGO, in participating in clubs that we know will look impressive instead of joining an intramural sport, in deciding not to go abroad all year because we think it will look bad, we miss the opportunity to find out what we are actually interested in as opposed to what we are supposed to be interested in.

The risks are high. Present and future happiness is at stake. A liberal arts education is the perfect time to explore things that interest us and take electives that have nothing to do with our majors. Once we graduate it might be too late.

For the students who just can’t bring themselves to stray from the so-called “safe” path, fear not.

Or take it from Sylvia Robinson, director of the MBNA Career Education Center.

“The students who are most successful in the job market present well-rounded packages that may include some internship experiences, but also include experiences such as study abroad, team sports, volunteer and public service commitments and part-time work experiences on campus,” she says.

Being well-rounded is not a weakness.

Lastly, most of us do not think of ourselves as sell-outs and are pretty sure that this will never happen. We might not know how to turn our passions into a career right now, but at some point we would like to.

But how long does it take for harmless resume sacrifices to start turning our morals stale? Four years might be long enough.

Emily Harter is a senior in the School of Foreign Service and can be reached at harterthehoya.com. Translating Georgetown appears every other Tuesday.

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