To all freshmen and sophomores (and juniors and seniors), this article is here to dispel a few career-related rumors that float around at Stern, to help you have a better college experience.
1. "If you study abroad you won't get an offer, or it'll be much harder for you to get an offer."
Okay, so if you read my previous article, you’re probably thinking that I’m biased towards studying abroad, and therefore, this opinion may not count. But let me provide you with some credibility: every one of my friends who studied abroad, whether for a semester, a year, or more (it happens more than you think!), has been successful in whatever their endeavors are, professionally or academically. Whether it was about securing a diversity program banking offer, creating a network at top consulting firms, or finding an amazing job in any other industry (we’ll get back to this point), they were able to do it!
Still don’t believe me? I agree, a group of my friends is probably not the best sample size. However, here is how you can plan your study abroad experience out so you can travel for a semester stress-free.
- Talk to your advisors! They can help you figure out what requirements you have, and what study abroad locations can help you meet them, so you don’t have to worry.
- Go early, or late! If you’re worried about recruiting and being on campus for interviews, plan your study abroad so that you’re in NYC during those times. For example, lots of Stern students go abroad their sophomore fall or junior spring.
- Keep pursuing your goals! Just because you’re studying abroad doesn’t mean your life is on hold. If you’re worried about not knowing enough, reach out to Stern alumni to ask about their experiences! LinkedIn is a great tool to do this. Don’t limit yourself to just banking and consulting. So many Stern alumni are in so many different industries with amazing jobs. You don’t know what you don’t know, so try to learn as much as you can in a low-stress environment by setting up calls while you’re abroad.
2. "Banking and consulting are the safest, best job options for Stern graduates."
Reminder: banks and consulting firms all work with thousands of companies in different industries, and those companies also have internships! From CPG companies like Unilever to tech companies like Google, your opportunities are wide open. Consulting and banking jobs are amazing chances, and can be incredible learning experiences, but are by no means the only way to be successful.
- If you’re concerned about pay, many industries offer competitive pay, so don’t rule them out.
- If you’re concerned about prestige, the most important thing on your resume is the skills you’re able to convey, and that is not always dependent on the brand name of the firm. Moreover, being experienced in an industry that you want to grow your career in will be just as prestigious as being experienced across many industries like in consulting and banking.
- Don’t ever feel pressured to choose these careers, but don’t be afraid if you do. Do what you want—and you’ll be so much happier for it.
3. "Everyone knows what they want to do with their careers, and have known since they were freshmen."
There is nothing more false than this statement. Ask anyone, at any age, and they will tell you that they are still figuring their future out. You are going to change so much in college and after you graduate (how could you not, with all these new experiences), and you have no idea how those changes will affect your goals. The best way to feel like you’re not falling behind is to take every change as a learning experience.
Take time to learn about all the opportunities available to you. Read the news. Skim job boards. Take new classes. Again, you don’t know what you don’t know, and you never want to miss out on finding a new passion. Step out of your comfort zone, and I guarantee you, you’ll be so much more secure in your goals when the time comes to find a job.
On top of that, don’t assume everyone else is ahead. The one thing I’ve learned over and over throughout college is that even the most seemingly confident people face the same fears about being successful, and no one knows how to truly define success. So if I can leave you with one lesson, just remember that success means your own happiness, and no one else's.