To Go or Not to Go Corporate

We encourage Harvard students to think critically about recruiting as well as other opportunities that are available.

Even though this year’s recruiting season coming to a close, questions continue over the morality of entering corporate America through consulting or finance. We welcome efforts to bring these questions to the forefront of campus conversation, including the Harvard Foundation and Office of Career Services’s event this week, aptly named, “Selling Out: Corporations in a Moral Perspective.”

After all, a large percentage of graduating seniors each year choose to go down the recruiting path. Among the Class of 2017, 36 percent of seniors were going into consulting or finance after graduation.

Students enter these industries for different reasons. For low-income students, it is often about accessing financial stability for themselves as well as for their families. For international and undocumented students, it can often be used as a way of securing a pathway to citizenship or a visa to be allowed to work in the country. It may also be a path for students who are trying to obtain financial security in order to sponsor family members for a green card.

There’s a lot of stigma around “selling out,” but it is important to acknowledge that going into careers that are not as financially stable, such as non-profit work, can be a privilege that many students can’t afford. Students should be empowered to pursue careers that are meaningful for them and also meet their needs. OCS and corporations who recruit on campus create pipelines to finance and consulting; these don’t exist for other career paths, foreclosing alternative possibilities for some students.

As a leader in higher education, Harvard should take further steps to create opportunities in other fields that are available to students. Harvard should better educate students on the nuances of popular fields like finance and consulting while also having wide ranging discussions about career paths. Careers in consulting and finance can reinforce a competitive atmosphere that some say doesn’t necessarily exist in other areas. There needs to also be a conversation on the emotional toll that attempting to break into these careers can take on students, especially with the possibility or reality of rejection.

With all of this in mind, it is important that students not invest their sense of self-worth into companies’ fickle decisions. We hope that the Foundation and OCS event will encourage discourse around the herd mentality of these careers as well as conversations about the role that the morality of wealth plays in this trend. We encourage OCS, along with others who help students find careers, to think about the values behind the career paths they promote to students.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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