Stereotypical Summers

After a long winter and a spring season that can never make up its mind what climate it wants to be, summer is a much anticipated time for all types of people. Whether school, work, or pleasure opportunities, many of these plans have been in the making for months, while others are more spontaneous.  Take a look at your own group of friends and you may find those who fit these categories.

Summer Sales

It’s time to dust off those uni-colored polos (typically orange or gray) and matching snapbacks.  The field is white, all ready to harvest those commissions that will nail you the top salesman award at the end-of-year cruise.  Although the days are long and hard, the weekends provide the opportunity to show off what you’ve accomplished at the gym over the past nine months; documented through pictures at the beach, skins vs. skins volleyball games, and even more time at the gym (don’t forget to flex!).  When the summer is over, with all the money you made, you don’t have to worry about working for the rest of the year.  Focus on the essentials like getting you and your bros to the gym on a scooter, house parties, and hot tubbing. #squadgoals

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On the way to the hot tub after a clutch day of sales!

Study Abroad 

Not to be confused with a sudden increase in European art or Asian literature, a study abroad program provides students the opportunity to study things they have relatively no interest in or will not use (obviously not in all cases) while simultaneously receiving a cultural experience by being able to take pictures next to well-known historical icons.  Imagine, a whole summer of asking people: “Will you take a picture of me while I stare pensively at something vague in the background?”

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For a great Instagram account making fun of these types of pictures, follow @socalitybarbie

Or taking a picture every time you’re on a plane.

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Airplane wings. Letting the world know you didn’t ride first class

Other opportunities abound such as finding love in a foreign place with those in your group.  Back home, it was easy for the person you liked to give you the slip when they didn’t want to date you.  Now they’ll be stuck with you for six weeks in close quarters with no chance of escape.  Act now!  You’ll be all the rage back home among your friends as you show off all your pictures and all the places you went.  Just hope that they don’t ask you about the artistic style of Botticelli during the Renaissance, you weren’t paying attention.

Internship

Congratulations!  You’ve decided to get your act together, stop frolicking abroad, and realized that your sex appeal to do sales disappears in your 30’s.  You’re thinking long term, which has landed you this prestigious internship.  If you’re anything but a business major, you’re likely staying local.  Unless you get with an up and coming non-profit based out of New York, then you move out, live in a van, and share a community garden with everyone else since it’s unpaid.  If you’re a business major, you’ve gone through a vigorous vetting process to get there (unless your dad knows people).  Now, with your overly-tight suit, faded haircut, and skinny ankles, you’re ready to move to a foreign land (sometimes as far as Phoenix or Dallas) and running endless excel formulas and cleaning out companies’ databases (aka grunt work).  Hopefully you get a job out of it.  If not, you can at least do sales until you hit your 30’s while you think about your next step.

Going Nowhere

This isn’t to say you’re not ambitious, but perhaps none of these circumstances apply to you.  Either you don’t fit the summer sales mold, you’re not far enough in school to do an internship, or your parents won’t pay for another study abroad.  This leaves you in the exact same spot you’ve been for the last year.  But you need to show all your traveling friends that you can have a good time too.  One popular past time is slacklining – because nothing says daredevil like walking a foot-and-a-half above a grassy hill.  Hammocking is another enjoyable past time.  Set up a hammock and take a nap until a like-minded person passes by and asks inquisitively “You hammock too?”  They grab their hammock, then you are both hammocking.  When you ask someone to take a picture of you hammocking so you can Instagram it, make sure your instafriends don’t recognize the hammock is set up in your front yard.  They’ll think you’re trying too hard.  It shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with fun summer ideas: house parties, bonfires, mocktails, card games, Taco Tuesday, etc.  Just don’t get too carried away with ideas:

It’s not riding an elephant though . . .

*As a disclaimer, I have been a participant of some sort in all these areas . . . which means I can make fun of them.

How my Education Nearly Prevented me from Getting a Job

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Is the title stretching things a little bit? Perhaps.  I could always find some sort of job if I wanted to.  What I am referring to was the ability to secure a relevant job/internship within my chosen degree of finance.  Some may take issue and point out that I just didn’t try hard enough or blah blah . . . “American Dream” . . . blah blah “lazy.”  They could be right.  But I believe that for the time and effort I spent submitting applications for finance internships and the placement rate boasted by the finance program, I should have been able to at least interview for a position.  Instead, I proactively went a different route that has paid dividends since then (finance joke).

Before I go off and make it sound like I am ungrateful for my education, let me make it clear that I do value the learning experience I had at BYU and that I gained a quality degree at low cost.  They know that as well, which hasn’t stopped them from asking for donations.  That also hasn’t stopped me from poking fun of my Alma Mater and its unique culture.  Except in Leonardo DiCaprio’s case, sometimes it’s fun to poke the bear.

Halfway through college, I found myself on the waitlist for the finance program.  I hadn’t been accepted into the business program so I was considering alternatives in the meantime: “An economics major sounds smart, but I hated the class,” or “humanities would be simple, but I want to be able to provide for myself in the future.”  Through some higher power, I was accepted from the waitlist.  In the back of my mind, this didn’t make sense.  Due to an unforgettably enjoyable, yet underachieving freshman year, my cumulative GPA had been brought to the minimum acceptance parameter.  Besides writing an awe-inspiring essay, how did I get into the more competitive and specialized finance program rather than the more simple and general business program?

Around this time, I allowed phrases such as “divine intervention,” “meant to be,” and “#blessed” to float through my head.  I did well in most of the classes. Most classes I understood the material.  A few classes, I feigned understanding like the rest of the class and relied on the curve – very unrepresentative of what I had actually learned.  I probably would have gotten more out of an Ancient Greek Poetry class through a Humanities major.

From the start of the finance program, we were encouraged to begin applying for internship opportunities early.  I would submit at least two applications daily for various positions that opened up on the school’s career board.  Teachers and faculty encouraged students to attend information sessions for visiting companies and “network” with those individuals.

I never much cared for these meetings.  Out of a full room of 60 students, half were there to network, the other half waited patiently for the food at the end, and a few people realized they were in the wrong place, but were too polite to leave during the presentation.  These meetings usually ran late due to the stalwart networking students deciding to ask brownnosing questions on everyone else’s time.  Those students will deny it, but everyone knew what they were doing.  The students there for the food were usually disappointed when they discovered they had wasted another hour that week for cheap Little Caesar’s Pizza and were another step closer to dying of heart disease.

Out of the dozens of applications I submitted, I heard back from roughly half of the companies; and that was only an automated message telling me that I was not being considered for the position.  I was competing with students who considered a 3.95 GPA to be a disgrace to their family name.   How was I supposed to measure up to employers who were predominantly basing their decisions based on GPA and on-point brownnosing? Should I buy a more skin-tight suit? Not wear socks with my shoes? Perhaps pay $50 for a faded haircut?  Or get suit pants that cut off just below the calf? All of these traits gave the impression of a seemingly successful candidate within the Marriott School of Business.

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Only the students with the highest GPAs can wear a suit on a beach

Admittedly, I am not a very good classroom learner.  I find it hard to focus, fidget constantly, and come out looking average on paper.  Instead, I have focused more heavily on experiential learning, participating in various part-time internships while I went to school (which could have contributed to my lower GPA).  How is someone who is working to put themselves through school supposed to put in as much time to schoolwork as those who receive scholarships or have their parents pay for school?

Around January, having been put off by the extremely competitive and cutthroat atmosphere of the Tanner building and world of finance (we were actually told by a teacher that “investment banking is the sure road to divorce”), I began considering a career in healthcare administration.  I found a local internship through Intermountain Healthcare at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center which provided great exposure to the healthcare industry.  Although it was unpaid, it provided the hands-on learning I thrived on.

Very few industries I know are so generous and willing to help students succeed as healthcare administration.  Through the internship, I was given valuable time with CEOs and executives of different hospitals, direct access to other influential leaders, and guidance in creating a solid foundation in healthcare through graduate school programs.  Through the work we did, the impact we were having by implementing evidence-based tactics and the positively coinciding hospital scores was obvious.

All of this was done independently of the business school.  Additional support to send us to a national healthcare conference came from outside the business school.  If anything, I felt a sense of disapproval stemming from the finance program from not going through a Fortune 500 company and for participating in an unpaid internship.

Nevertheless, I ended up having a great internship that fit my interests and skillsets over the summer.  Contrast this with some other individuals I had gone through the finance program with.  They were in the same boat in that they also lacked that competitive edge offered through a resume.  No offers came their way.  They ended up becoming insurance agents for the summer.  There’s nothing wrong with insurance agents, everyone needs insurance.  But if you are going to school for a specialized degree, what good does it do you to get a job that doesn’t require a degree? Especially if you don’t plan on sticking with it.  To my knowledge, they have acquired more relevant jobs now, but at the time, it was stressful to have everyone securing internships except for you.

Where I’m at now

I am applying for Masters programs in Healthcare Administration and have been accepted to some of the best programs in the nation.  As usual, my GPA and GRE scores were average, but I attribute the healthcare experience I have accumulated over the past three years outside of the classroom to my being a competitive candidate.  These programs only consider GPA and testing scores as a small part of the application, placing more emphasis on experience and potential.  Each program is known for placing nearly 100% of their students in jobs and internships across the nation.

Had I not decided to go a different route, I’m sure things would have worked out somehow.  But the process of never being considered for dozens of applied for positions because I couldn’t match the GPA of other candidates became wearing.  I felt like my program had shot me in the foot by accepting me but not being able to secure an internship due to the high reliance on GPA.  To get to where I am hasn’t been easy.  I have done an immense amount of personal networking and put in hundreds of hours into my internships at no pay.  But I realized the experience was invaluable in preparing for the future.

I am grateful for the education I received.  But remember those students who may not seem as smart on paper are willing to work just as hard as anyone else.  If I ever have excess money to give away and BYU comes asking for more money, I’ll give a bit to my program, but will be more likely to give to the departments and faculty who provided more opportunities to succeed.