For the last few weeks, I’ve been watching my friends in tech and finance find out what they’ll be doing next year. From jobs at Amazon and Google to the Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey, they’re preparing themselves to be scattered across the country. Meanwhile, I sit and wait for my fellowship results to crawl into my inbox, anywhere between March and May. The wait is horrible, and I feel like a failure in the interim.
This isn’t unique to senior year: along with many other non-STEM, non-finance, non-consulting friends, I have spent many spring months in the past waiting on results — often negative ones — that decided my summer. But now, as they decide my future, it feels more pressing. And even though I’m happy for my friends who have jobs and internships, I do sometimes feel a twinge of inadequacy. Why is it that they find out so much earlier? Does the fact that I don’t have a job or internship offer yet mean that I’m a failure?
The answer is no. And what I’m trying to keep in mind is that it’s not just about certain people getting fellowships and internships and others not: it’s about everyone’s life going according to one’s own path and timeframe.
If I were in tech or finance, I might know right around now what I’ll be doing next year — but I’m not in those fields. And I have no desire to be. So even if I did want the security of knowing I’ll have a job at Google in December, I wouldn’t actually want the job at Google. It’s not worth comparing myself to my Silicon Valley friends: we have different aspirations and job opportunities, which also means that we have different timelines for senior year and, of course, life more generally.
Realizing this difference can go far beyond the job/internship search: it extends into rejection from these positions as well. Two years ago, well into March, I was rejected from every single internship I applied to, as all my friends racked up acceptances. It looked like I was going to bum around at home that summer until I was accepted to the one fellowship I needed — one that gave me funding to spend my summer interning at an NGO in Kazakhstan, which moved me further along in my professional and academic career than anything else I would have done.
Before I received it, though, I would have done nearly anything to be accepted to just about anything, even if it wasn’t really for me, just to keep up with the proverbial pack. But whenever I felt too caught up in that moment, I’d have to step back and realize that the “pack” has interests and goals vastly different from mine, and that their early acceptance means a commitment to those goals — ones that I don’t share.
Still now, it’s becoming increasingly stressful to watch everyone gain acceptance to things, while I have to wait until the end of my senior year to receive news from my dream fellowship. I’m so happy for my friends — and I just want to be as secure as they do. But then I remind myself: if I wanted to know as early as they do, I’d have to be a COS major, which I’m not. And that’s fine.
While it’s incredibly frustrating to see seemingly everyone get job offers (and the security that comes along with it), it would be far more frustrating to be applying to jobs in fields that aren’t relevant to our interests or skill sets. So, remind yourself that your friends already have internships and jobs because they’re majoring in different things — the things that you probably wouldn’t want to work on for the rest of your life, or at least the next few years.
Leora Eisenberg is a senior from Eagan, M.N. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.