There are certain things about Yale that some love and others will forever love to hate. Of course, we have the usual suspects, the low-hanging, elusive and elitist fruits of Yale life: Grand Strategy, Skull and Bones, the Whiffenpoofs. And there is much to criticize about each of those institutions (as evidenced by the wealth of things already written critiquing them). But beyond those, there are even more anxiety-inducing subjects. That dreaded word: consulting.
Don’t worry, Bain hopefuls, I’m not here to criticize your life choices. The fact of the matter is that I wish that I, like you, wanted to put on my best pencil skirt and crowd into The Study to be offered tantalizing perks and a wealth of opportunities. A stable job; a respectable salary; an exciting workload. But even more than that, the thing that I envy about my classmates excitedly stumbling into positions at prestigious consulting firms is their confidence in embarking on their path. This is the beginning of the rest of their lives. And I, too, want to find that security so badly that I cannot hold its allure against anyone.
But what I find unsettling and, to be blunt, downright unfair is the way in which Yale seems to treat all other jobs, as compared with the buzzwords of “finance” and “consulting.” Over winter break, I finally decided to act like a grown up and figure out what exactly was going on with this Symplicity website that UCS so desperately wants me to embrace. And for all my efforts setting up an account and taking tutorials, what did I find? Page after page of positions as a finance analyst. I could be a finance analyst in Manhattan! Or a finance analyst in San Francisco! If I wanted to go wild, I could even be a finance analyst in Chicago! Five pages of analyst opportunities later, I learned that I could also be an associate consultant. Beyond that, though, I was relatively on my own.
Yale’s extensive liberal arts curriculum permits, if not encourages, a wealth of varied interests. It is okay not to know what you want to do. But encouraging us not to know what we want to do needs to go hand in hand with offering us different avenues to explore. Otherwise, those who don’t know what they want will simply stumble into one or two traditional career paths.
Yes, there is an easy explanation for the ubiquity of financial and consulting firms. It’s easy to believe that they are more cooperative in working with Yale to set up on-campus recruiting, leading to greater ease in facilitating internships. But this dearth of options does no one any good.
I’m not asking Yale to list job postings for tiny nonprofits in off-the-beaten-path towns in South Dakota. There are some easy places to start, even within the realm of big business. Beyond finance and consulting, what about some of the advertising giants or marketing firms? What about law firms looking to hire paralegals? It cannot only be Bain and McKinsey looking for fresh young talent on Yale’s campus — and it certainly cannot be that the portion of the student body nebulously majoring in the humanities is only looking for those traditional kinds of employment.
Moreover, Yale clearly has the capability and, at certain local points, the desire to incentivize finding Yalies employment at non-traditional places of work. Take the Bulldogs Across America program for example — Yale offers (often) paid, well-organized internships with partner organizations that are dying to have Yale students. They offer jobs at nonprofits; they offer jobs in chambers of commerce; they offer jobs at children’s theaters. Yale can clearly find a way to partner with other employers in cities beyond the specific ones in the Bulldogs program.
And it can be even easier than what they do for the Bulldogs program — I’m not saying that Yale has to guarantee anyone a job. As an anxiety-ridden junior myself, I don’t expect anyone to hand me a job. But Yale could at the very least make its students more aware of jobs from different industries, and maybe even facilitate an interview or two so that we don’t have to strike out completely on our own.
At the end of the day, the thing that’s scary for non-finance-and-consulting types is not that we don’t have a job locked down. At least, it certainly isn’t for me. It’s that there are infinite jobs out there. But I have no idea which ones would make me happy, and I have no idea how to find the ones that might make me happy without any guidance. If Yale doesn’t help whittle these opportunities down to a manageable size, I don’t know how I’ll ever come closer to clarity.
Victoria Hall-Palerm is a junior in Berkeley College. Her columns run on alternate Thursdays. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.