The day after snowfall, the streets are filled with graphite-colored sludge. The roads are slippery, water is seeping into your shoes, and you want nothing more than to be free of the dark muck that covers the sidewalks. If this leftover snow manages to refreeze, it’s even worse.
Why? Because if you’re accident-prone, like me, you’re sure to fall on slick surfaces. It was one of these days following a snowstorm when I had picked up my dinner from Kimmel to take home and eat. In one hand, I had my box of meal-swiped sushi, and in my other, I had a bag of groceries. The Kimmel staircase was adorned with snowy footprints, and as I descended, I slipped and toppled down the whole thing.
I had, quite literally, rolled into a finance recruiting event being held at Kimmel, with many suit-wearing Stern students standing in the lobby in anticipation. With my bright snow boots and unkempt hair--which, at this point, was covered in sushi--I felt underdressed and unprepared for an event I wasn’t even there for. In the midst of young men and women who seemed to know exactly what they wanted from their careers, I stuck out.
The only thing that could make this experience worse was running into my classmates at this recruitment event, pushing me into a panic. Why are freshmen already recruiting? Am I supposed to be going to these, and if so, am I already too late to start working on my career?
This experience is an example of what I call the Freshman Freak Out. As freshmen, seeing upperclassmen advance professionally makes us feel as if we have to join them immediately, leading us to think that if we don’t, we’ll be left behind in the job market. Our anxiety worsens when we see the Freak Out manifest in some of our peers, who will attend every networking and recruiting event in the hopes of getting ahead for the future.
But to every Stern freshman who reads this post and feels the Freak Out, I have a few tips:
- Don’t be afraid of men and women in suits. Repeat after me: “They are just people.”
- Read the emails you get from clubs you are signed up for. Even read Stern Weekly as much as you can. This way, you’ll feel like you’re in the loop about everything that is going on at Stern.
- Don’t feel obligated to go to every event you read about because you feel “behind.” Go to events that interest you. Learn more about what you are passionate about.
- Don’t feel guilty if you are prioritizing your classes over professional opportunities. It is hard enough writing three papers and taking two midterms in one week. Sometimes, you have to stay in.
- Seek advice from your professors and your peer mentors.
- Go have fun. There will always be work to do, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a break.
And my biggest tip is to walk down the Kimmel stairs slowly so you don’t fall in front of your classmates. If you do fall, then take my next advice--when you find bits of sushi in your hair, don’t cower in shame. Walk out of that building with pride, pride that avocado stains on your clothes do not make you any less deserving of the success the world has to offer.