If you’ve ever worried about your future after Harvard then, chances are, you’re pretty anxious about your prospects—or lack thereof—for the rapidly-approaching summer. In true Harvardian form, most students will rush off in six short weeks to don a suit and build their résumé at some ritzy New York financial institution, ready to be exploited for a pittance—all for the sake of a secured future. But though it’s certain to rouse some neurotic tendencies, Harvard students should realize that productive uses of the summer sojourn also include travel and relaxation.
If you’re like me—one of these compulsive worriers—you’ve already envisioned your life as a soup kitchen patron. Everywhere you turn the walls are closing in on you as countless pink-pant wearing preppies delight in telling you about their “lucrative summer position” at Goldman or Stanley. But, if their impressive euphemisms for “internship” haven’t yet frightened you, just wait for it: rolling the “I” across their tongue, they drop the big one, I-banker. “Welcome to unemployment,” you lament in your joblessness.
Though there’s no doubt that internships with prestigious companies provide an excellent stepping-stone into the working community, presenting the student with some useful knowledge for after college, Harvard students overindulge in this game of one-upmanship. Competing for impressive summer positions, some spend much of their spring term flying between Boston and New York for interviews with prospective employers.
But take a moment to consider the loss incurred by interning. College provides students with three months of holidays every year, a period of time that most of us will only see again in retirement or—for the less fortunate—unemployment. Like the vast majority of the working world, we’ll slave until our sixties in order to present our children with the best opportunities, while, of course, living out our own lives in style. During this time few of us will take leave to enjoy time for ourselves, either in travel or personal reflection.
In contrast, most people attend college with the hopes of building a future, expanding their minds and also having fun. Caught up in the frenzy of competition here in Cambridge, however, many students forget that their 20s are years for development and enjoyment. We spend a tough nine months trying to maintain a high GPA and competing with equally driven peers, so is there really a need to rush to the workplace in the prime freedom of our lives?
Of course, there are the worthy exceptions to the rule that go off fighting AIDS in Tanzania or bringing modern technology to isolated communities in South America. But for the large majority of Harvard students, the whole notion of a broad education will end on May 28th. Students often complain about feeling “restricted” by Cambridge and yet they still dash off to a small office and suit over the summer. This year, broaden your horizons and do something for yourself and for your own development. Thankfully in America the cream always rises to the top, so missing your internship for the chance to see the world or hang around with friends at home will not be the end of your billion-dollar career. The value of living for yourself may not be immediately evident—especially with an international bank beckoning—but don’t forget, money isn’t worth a thing if you’re too boring to know how to spend it.
Bede A. Moore ’06, a Crimson editorial comper, is a history concentrator in Winthrop House.