When I finished my college applications and was accepted into my first choice university, I thought I was done attempting to prove myself on paper for a good amount of time. Sufficient to say, I was very incorrect in making this assumption. Come junior year, not only did I have to balance school life and extracurricular activity, but I had to, and still have to, focus on catching the eye of employers across the nation to ensure an internship of some sort for the upcoming summer.
I didn't believe the stress level I felt applying for colleges could be matched until I began searching for jobs. Especially going through the business school, there seems to be a lack of opportunities to branch out and join a less reputable company than the big four or another name brand that employers recognize and respect. That's not to say that other positions with lesser-known companies are frowned upon, but it seems that the concentration of positions lies at the top.
I wish I had looked more extensively at the process of the job search prior to my starting it. The problem is, everyone looks almost exactly the same on paper. We all have our previous experience and our glowing recommendations from professors — past and present — topped with a lovely written cover letter that we believe sets us apart from the crowd. One can only hope that their application is chosen from the hundreds that lay in the lap of campus recruiters, as we struggle to be seen in a sea of people.
The biggest piece of advice I have for myself and for anyone going through or entering this process is to not fret. It seems trivial and simultaneously impossible, but it's not. Getting a position with a name-brand company is not the end-all be-all. There is success to be had at start-ups, at non-profit organizations, at companies who don't yet have the potential to be large enough firms to have competitive advantages, and that's alright. No one is telling you where to work or how to pursue a career, it's all in your head. If you relax, you will find a place that suits your needs, not the other way around. And believe me, you'll be happier for it.