Winter Quarter – first impressions on the internship hunt

I will write a longer post when time permits, but I have some initial thoughts to share on the first several weeks of the Winter Quarter here at Foster.

It’s been a hectic three weeks, and very different compared to Fall Quarter. On campus recruiting is in full swing, with a lot of my classmates busy applying for internships and interviewing. Word spreads really quickly around here. Failures and successes get shared rapidly due to word of mouth. This creates some problems: it seems like your failures become public and other people’s successes create a social pressure on everyone else to succeed, to try harder next time. Luckily, the academic course load is lighter this quarter (except for that first week) but I do see many of my classmates get behind on coursework because the internship hunt takes priority. Coupled with the publicity of failure and other people’s success, this just builds more and more pressure to work harder on career management and let the schoolwork slip.

Social pressure isn’t anything new, but in the age of Constant Feed (see Tina Wells’ podcast on Entrepreneurship Thought Leaders) you’re continuously bombarded with other people’s highlight reels. MBA students are used to being successful and the social pressure to succeed is extremely high in a small community like Foster. Failure and rejection can cause huge blows to self esteem and self image, not because other people think less of you, but because you might believe that everyone thinks less of you.  However, do consider the possibility that everyone is too busy with their own problems that they don’t think positively or negatively about you.

So what do you do? I wrote earlier about the possibility of Grit being a factor towards success, but I’ll save the writeup on improving resiliency for another post. In the meantime, I think being open about what you’re working on and struggling with is important in a small community like this. Your classmates are going through the same pressures, even the ones who are perceived as having a lot of success in the internship hunt. I find that talking about your career aspirations and the hurdles you’re overcoming can be therapeutic, and helps you shape your story a little better. Staring at your resume and cover letters and doing company research are all important, but I think it’s even more important to talk to people about your career goals and really practice telling your story. 

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