All students envisage an idealised version of their future; a situation in which their impending career provides joy, a sense of worth, perhaps a feeling that you are truly making a difference. I, for one, aspire to a glamorised conception of my graduate career. A new life in a vibrant city, working a role that I excel in and am passionate about, enjoying good workplace relationships, and holding the ability to enjoy life’s finer things with my new income-related freedom. But this ideal vision of my future is shrouded in uncertainty, apprehension, and to an extent, fear. Fear that I, for example, will be trapped in a bleak office, in a monotonous job, sat making small-talk to a handful of fifty-somethings, before rushing home as soon as 5 pm arrives, in some drab town I’ve landed myself in. The fear that my fantastical dream job will, in reality, be ousted by the aforementioned situation is gut-wrenching. But before I even reach the fresh start of a nascent career, what about the hoops one must jump through to get there?
Along with the essays and class tests of the current semester, I will be wading through endless vacancy searches, cover-letter drafts, and application forms daily, in the hopes of securing that coveted summer internship. My checklist of internship-related tasks currently stands at forty-seven items. Finding the time and energy to sit down and stay on top of this list is no mean feat. And of course, the threat of rejection is worrying, an emotion which sits neatly alongside the frustration of having to type my details (right down to my GCSE Latin grade) into an e-form, despite my provision of a CV. For the second time today. Indeed, I am hedging my bets, applying to just about anything that sounds ‘feasible’, whether that be applying to an opportunity with the sodding Daily Star, or shipping myself off to China.
Entirely overwhelming is the sheer number of paths available. I am dizzy from the near-infinite number of angles one can take in the search for internships and careers. Employment4Students? The careers centre website? University-run opportunities? Contacting companies to beg and plead directly? The incoherent and multiple routes to internships and job opportunities are absolutely staggering and when, like myself, you are not entirely certain the career sector you wish to pursue, the number of pathways multiply, tenfold. Another source of panic is the sheer level of competition you are combatting. My contemporaries across the country are seeking this idealised career, and more imminently, they too want that PwC internship. How much emotional affront can one take between now and summer before they pack it in and return to that grotty summer job?
One begins to consider if the standard internship-career path is even for them. Why am I playing into this masochistic race for this standardised version of success, the chances of which materialising beginning to appear slim? Why shouldn’t I take my happiness into my own hands, move to Magaluf, and become a rep? Or take up a job at Disney-world? Unconventional, yes, but the route to this means of livelihood is a world apart from the melting pot of uncertainty, anxiety and pressure that the road to these business-world careers induces.
One cannot, despite all this, lose sight of their personal end-goal; alas, we did not become students to become surf instructors on Bondi Beach. Maybe this idealised vision of my future – a vision of fulfilment, self-determination, enjoyment – is achievable, and maybe I shouldn’t lose hope that things will work out. But undeniably, the road to that end-goal is a draining, frustrating, nerve-inducing slog.