Stress-free job, stress-free search

As I stand about to forever sign off from The Cavalier Daily in the name of general fourth-year debaucheries, thesis writing and -- dun-dun-dun -- job searching, I would like to take this last opportunity to offer some words of encouragement to my fellow classmates.

Walking around Grounds, it's hard to miss everyone's favorite breed of student: The suit-clad, briefcase-toting Commie -- Comm schooler, that is. Viewing his frazzled expression, one can't help but envision the slew of extracurricular emergencies, networking opportunities and big-corporate interviews that the Commie has to deal with on a daily basis. No one said it was easy being one of the elite, but the Commie takes it all in stride. The Commie has been fine-tuning his resume and personality to the demands of corporate America for the last 15 years of his life. The Commie is ready for the world. The Commie has (cue heavenly music) a Job.

It is easy for the rest of us lowly College students to be intimidated by the Commie (E-Schoolers, we know you all have jobs too, silence). The Commmie has achieved exactly what we have all been socialized to believe is the "right" path to take post-graduation: Big salary, big time-commitment, (often) big ego. The fact is that the Commies have worked hard to achieve their goals, and they deserve the benefits they wish to reap. However, what the rest of us need to remember is something that often becomes eclipsed in American society, and particularly at an elite institution like the University -- that their way is not "The Way."

It's true: If you don't want to be an investment banker, there isn't a ton that this school can do for you in the way of a job search. This isn't by any fault of University Career Services, which does its best to provide a broad spectrum of resources for fourth-year students. The disadvantage that the more Wall Street-disinclined students face is that the companies they want to work for just don't have the money to recruit the way that Goldman Sachs does. Therefore, finding information about non-banking firms can be daunting. Sometimes, it can seem like jobs with these companies don't actually exist. Furthermore, the disproportionate amount of banking and consulting firms that interview at the University can make students who don't fit this specific mold feel inferior. Worse, all of this can make these students panic and feel that they will "never find a job," and that they will be lost in the abyss that is the real world post-May.

I'm here today to remind everyone that this mentality, though totally understandable given the climate on Grounds, is nothing short of absurd. First of all, you are not a failure if you don't make six figures your first year out of college. Second of all, the harsh truth is that jobs that can deliver this type of salary stand a great chance of making most of us miserable. Thirdly, the world would be a much better place if people stopped paying attention to what society tells them to do, and started thinking about what they actually want. Take the drive for big money out of your job search equation because -- I hate to break it to you -- after a certain level of affluence (securing comfort and mobility) it ain't gonna make you happy, kids. Is this a radical piece of advice? Sadly, yes, these days. But not an impossible one. Step back. Ignore the Comm School. Even if you're in the Comm School, ignore the Comm School. If banking is what you really love, go for it! You are lucky enough to have a passion that is aligned with prestige, congratulations. If you don't love it, don't do it. It's that simple.

Jobs are out there. The one you want and are qualified for might not be on Hoostrack, but with a little effort, you can and will find it. If you try hard enough and think seriously enough about who you are and what you want, you will probably find a job that you love. By sheer virtue of holding a University degree, you are ridiculously qualified for top-notch employment. Go to UCS. Find a mentor to help you with your search. Seek out alternative job ideas. Hell, think about taking a year off to travel! But whatever you do, don't let the Commies scare you, don't panic and keep life in perspective. The mentality that work equals life has been so naturalized in this country that is can be exceedingly hard to escape. As you stand on the threshold of your future, entertain the possibility that perhaps -- gasp -- your life is for you to enjoy. Entertain the possibility that work is but one part of that life, and not, as America would have you believe, "The Part."

Most importantly, remember that you have one semester of college left to enjoy. Think about next year, make provisions for it, but don't let it take you out of this moment. Unlike opportunities to buy into the ideology of corporate America, chances to soak up the company of your friends, enjoy the scenery of our beautiful campus and feel the exhilaration and excitement of what lies before us won't come around again. Forget worrying about how you possibly are going to live your life in the future. You're living it right now.

(Laura Parcells' column appears Fridays in The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at lparcells@cavalierdaily.com.)

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