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Happiness, not internships: Why WBS has a career problem

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I have been sensing a strange kind of vibe around the Warwick Business School. Each year, hundreds of students are excited and ultra-motivated to start (or continue) their journey towards a successful career in Finance. I can’t help but notice there is a huge problem in this rat-racing for the best positions. Many of my friends are involved, not just from WBS, but other departments too. I might be a little hypocritical, because even I take part in this insanity.

 

First of all, by no means do I want to say that seeking a summer internship at a prestigious company is wrong. Of course, every person has the right to do so. What is a problem is that many people are lying to themselves. And the Business School is not likely to help them.

 
People start believing what big companies and the university itself are promoting. Often, I see my friends committing to the banking or consulting industry without knowing why. “Money” is the most common answer. But once you start questioning them on what being an investment banker it involves, and the kind of routine bankers have, they start having doubts.

I can’t help but notice there is a huge problem in this rat-racing for the best positions

When you start asking them: what do you want from life, what is your passion in life, it becomes clear none of their answers are linked to finance. And this is the sad part. People are manipulated into wanting internships, into believing they supposedly unblock the path to a beautiful future. That is not always the case.

 

Of course, I am not saying there aren’t people who enjoy the financial side of things, read the FT passionately, and trade shares successfully. No, but there are too many who do it because they feel they should.

People are manipulated into wanting internships, into believing they supposedly unblock the path to a beautiful future

At the beginning of the year, the Dean of WBS called for 2nd year students “to be prepared for the upcoming interviews, that by now you should all have sent your applications”. The problem is that a few moments later in that same speech, he said: “you should differentiate yourself, be different, diversity is what they are looking for.”

 

This is the problem. They want us to be different from each other, and yet we should all hold the same goal. People are not like that. Obviously, this is not what the WBS stand for, nor what it believes in, but it never says as much out loud. For them too, it is a matter of prestige.

They want us to be different from each other, and yet we should all hold the same goal

On the bright side, there are careers opportunities elsewhere that the school is, somewhat more quietly, promoting. Also, there are modules from fields like Entrepreneurship, Marketing, or just Operations. But in an environment like Warwick, where internship rhymes with prestige, it is hard to stand out of the crowd and do things differently.

 
People are diverse, and should not try to reshape themselves because someone told them to, or because the pay check is the highest in a particular industry. I believe that when you do something with passion, rewards will always come. Maybe not as soon as you wish, maybe not in the form you would expect. But happiness is a key factor.

People are diverse, and should not try to reshape themselves because someone told them to

I am not saying money is not important. It is. It gives you freedom and comfort in our society. I am enjoying reading the Economist and the Financial Times. My Finance module is pretty cool. So I applied. I do not expect anyone to know what they want to do. But if my internship turns out to be a non-pleasant experience, it is equally as important to know what you do not want to do. I don’t want to be just another plant in the forest, racing upwards to reach the light.

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