Fall recruiting is well under way at Georgetown, and while this is an exciting time on campus, it can also cause stress for students. Recently, the editorial board of Duke University’s The Chronicle addressed the topic of coping with a pervasive campus culture of careerism. The authors urged students to reflect on their motivations to pursue a particular career rather than merely “jump on the bandwagon” and follow what could be perceived as a norm.
The editorial encouraged students to engage in conversations about their choices and create a culture where there are true reasons for choosing a career path. In addition, during a recent What’s a Hoya? discussion on professional mentorship, the moderator asked the panel to comment about the campus climate toward professional development. The panel shared a variety of perspectives, using words such as “stressful,” “intense,” “exciting” and “pervasive.”
The panel, composed of students and staff, advised students to take advantage of opportunities that align with their passions while at the same time exercising care to maintain a healthy life balance.
Although some students find the prospect of career exploration energizing, many students experience anxiety and confusion. Perhaps your roommate put on a business suit during the first week of school to attend an employer event, or your classmate mentioned she already has a full-time job offer. At the Cawley Career Education Center, we have seen an increase in the number of students stressed as a result of their friends’ internships and job searches.
As executive director of the Career Center, I have worked with students who overlook original passions in order to consider careers in business, just because their peers are pursuing it. Certainly, the finance and consulting industries are popular and highly visible on campus, but if these fields are not for you, I have two messages: “That’s OK” and “We’re here to help.” The Career Center offers many services and opportunities that span all majors and career interests, and our team can help you sort it all out.
Last year the Career Center rolled out the career development cycle, a helpful model to guide students in managing career development. This framework centers around five primary components: introspection, information gathering, preparing materials, making connections and applying. The first principle of introspection is relevant to students’ career searches and is an important element to the Ignatian principle of discernment.
There are several key questions to ask yourself to begin the discernment process, including: “What moves my soul?” “How do my values, interests, skills and personality inform my choices?” “What are my true motivations for considering a line of work?” Introspection must be intentional, and you should allow yourself time to genuinely engage in the process.
At Georgetown, you will find many professionals who want to help you find a career aligned with your authentic self. Meeting with a counselor at the Career Center is one place to start, while colleagues in the Office of Student Affairs, the Center for Social Justice, Campus Ministry and others are ready to guide you.
It may be difficult now to hear someone say, “That’s OK” when you express indecision or anxiety about your professional development, but understand that by taking a few steps back to begin your personal discernment process, things really will be OK.
Mike Schaub is the Executive Director of the Cawley Career Education Center.
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