Corporate Advice: Cubicle Your Brain

If you’re interested in securing that post-grad financial security and welfare (not the kind the poor will be stealing from hard working folks like you to feed their families), then you’ve got your eyes locked on one thing: a corporate internship. Getting great grades, prepping for interviews, and strategically networking are all going to get you in the door, but if you really want to succeed, if you really want to climb that ladder, then you’ve got to be prepared to do two things. Number one, stay away from ladders, they’re dangerous and often not high enough anyhow. 

And number two: Turn off your brain.

If you responded to that statement with a follow-up question, then succeeding in a corporation is not likely in your future. A corporate hierarchy can’t sustain itself under the duress of questions and curiosity, so you need to ditch having those things or, well, the corporation won’t get paid. To all you aspiring consultants, try to come up with a way to finance those rooftop happy hours without having any money.

Think of it this way: a corporation is like a certain side of chess (probably the white one). Interns are like pawns, in the sense that they can’t do much and they’re the typically the first to go. You’re there to complement and aid the advancement of the other, more sophisticated pieces, and ultimately to set those sophisticated pieces up for getting all the credit for putting the other firm’s in check. You’re also there to make copies for the Bishop, clean excel spreadsheets for the Knights, and get coffee for the Queen at her 9 a.m.; you keep your mouth shut and your head down when the King sneaks off to castle with the Rook when the Queen is away.

If you read that last paragraph and actually did think through that metaphor, then you failed the test of using your brain, go back to the beginning of the article. If you didn’t absorb any of it, very good. You’re learning to not learn.

If you’re lucky enough to land that internship, here is how you can expect to be introduced to people in the company. First of all, it’s going to be by your MANAGER; think about the implications with that term - almost got you there with the thinking thing, didn’t I? They’re going to introduce you as, “Hey Jeff, here is my intern, Cole.” “My intern” — you’re in the same class as a pet, a deck of documents, a younger cousin — in fact, I bet you are the younger cousin, so that makes sense.

If you’re a guy, you better several hundred white or light blue collared shirts and Hanes undershirts to match. Ladies, there might be some statute about not wearing the same outfit twice, but I’m not entirely sure how the fines break down for that. If you’ve got a joke that you think would make people in the office laugh and take the edge off for just a second to establish relationships with your coworkers that are more than purely utilitarian, then please, for the love of God, stop thinking.

You’ve made it to U.Va., and the chances say that you’re probably a pretty smart person. College loans, rising living costs and your future aspirations might entail more financial security than seems very feasible outside of these lucrative internships. I get that. All I ask is that when you sit down across from Goldman Sachs, don’t be surprised if their response to all of your problems is, “You shouldn’t have to think about all of that.”

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