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I'm Not Career-Driven, But My World Is

I care more about the people and relationships I form than my career.

It's that time of year where everyone is asking each other about their summer internships, research, and other resume-building plans.

Whenever I get this question, I panic and never know exactly what to say. I know what the answer should be. I should be excited to start "paying my dues" and working up the ladder. I should be excited to start working toward my career. But here's the thing... I'm not.

In the short-term:

I want to enjoy my last summer before graduation. I want to be able to go to the beach with my family and go on road trips with my friends. I want to be lazy and relax. I want to sleep in until 11am because I can.

I just got finished with finals. My brain is fried. I need the next three months to properly forget everything I learned last semester to make room for the forthcoming semester.

If I do decide to get a job this summer, I want to explore jobs that will be fun or allow me to learn new skills. Maybe I could work at Starbucks and learn to make drinks or perhaps I could be a lifeguard and learn how to perfectly apply sunscreen.

This is the last chance I'm going to have to explore and do things just for the heck of it without facing real, "adult" consequences.

The way I see it, I have the rest of my life to work. I shouldn't burn myself out now.

In the long-term:

Even when I do enter the post-college adult world, I'm still not going to be one of those "my career is everything" people. I do want a solid job that pays my bills and in which I can feel like I am helping others... but I also want a job that I can compartmentalize.

For instance, last summer, I was a CNA (certified nursing assistant). Not only did I work stressful 12-hour shifts, I also took the work home with me and stressed about it off-the-clock. After that, I realized that in the future, I must have a career that I am able to compartmentalize.

Don't get me wrong, I want to work hard at my job. However, afterward, I want to get home from my 9-5 and be able to cook dinner and relax. I want to be able to read or go for a walk. I want to go out with friends without having to worry about various aspects of work.

When I think about what I want out of life, I care more about the people and relationships I form than my career. I care more about investing in my hobbies than investing in my job title. I care more about living a well-rounded life than having a top tier career.

Being OK with it:

While working long weeks and putting their all into their jobs works for many people, that just isn't for me.

However, in a career-driven world, and especially at a career-driven school like UVA, I find myself feeling looked down upon for not being career-driven.

When I tell certain people that I don't have concrete summer plans yet, they reply with "Oh, that sounds so chill!" that obviously contradicts the look in their eyes of "Oh my goodness, I'm stressed out for you."

I don't think I, or anyone else, should feel bad about not doing what everyone else around us seems to be doing. Some people will be achieving great things by working at internships or pursuing other great resume builders this summer, and that is awesome. Some people will be playing on the beach with their family and making memories that will last a lifetime, and that is also awesome.

In such a career-driven culture, it's OK not to be. It's OK to have higher priorities. It's OK to if you don't want to become the next Patty Jenkins or Kanye.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram @uvacareercenter

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5 Strategies To Succeed After College

How to effectively leverage your resources as a college student.


The post-grad life can seem foreboding. As you enter uncharted territory, you must draw on your past experiences to navigate this new world of uncertainty. Once you graduate from college it is up to you to secure your next step, so don't let your future sneak up on you. Employ these strategies to make the most of your college experience and build a foundation for the career you've always dreamed of.

1. Become friends with career services.

Every college has a center for career services and students often procrastinate until their senior year to take advantage of all the opportunities it has to offer. Get to know the people who work there by name, and absorb all of their advice. The more you stand out in a person's mind, the more likely you are to be recommended for internships or job offers.

2. Attend colloquium speaker events that relate to your major.

Most academic departments on your campus organize some type of speaker series. Not only are these presentations inspiring and filled with excellent advice, they can also be an opportunity to network. The speakers are usually highly successful in their field and often encourage students to ask them questions about their career. By engaging with speakers and establishing a connection with them, you can build a contact list that will help you progress in your future career.

3. Join clubs that spark your interest.

Clubs are an easy way to build a network of friends who share your goals. In addition to boosting your resume, clubs allow you to explore your interests without making a huge commitment. Taking part in activities on campus will expose you to new experiences that may be influential in helping you to decide on a career path.

4. Stand out in class and build relationships with your professors.

Taking on an active role in your education is the most essential part of your college experience. By impressing your professors and getting to know them better, you will increase your chances of receiving glowing recommendation letters and even getting selected for fellowships, scholarships, and internships.

5. Surround yourself with people who motivate you and will help you advance in your profession.

Building a strong network of friends, co-workers, and superiors will benefit you immensely in the long run. By knowing people who are willing to go to bat for you, you will stand out among employers because there are others willing to express their confidence in your abilities.

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