I tried my hand at Penn Career Services On Campus Recruiting (OCR) during the spring semester of my sophomore year, although OCR is typically for second-semester juniors. I wanted to take the opportunity to familiarize myself with the process and explore internship opportunities available for sophomores.
I learned as I went, figuring out resume drops and the process for signing up for interview slots. However, it didn’t take long to realize that most of the internship positions were in finance. As someone with an intended marketing concentration, this made me a little hesitant to apply. I figured that an internship opportunity in finance could be interesting and very didactic, so I went ahead with it. I was granted a couple interview offers, much to my surprise.
Fast-forward to the middle of the spring semester, and I was interviewing for a global investment banking firm. The company seemed to like me. As I moved along further in the recruitment process, I became more and more invested in the opportunity to secure the internship. To be honest, I realized that I wanted the position because of the esteem behind the company name, and because I felt as though I had to find an opportunity in finance—not because it was what I wanted to do. I unfortunately also felt as though I was giving up on marketing, which I saw as my true passion.
Ultimately, I did not end up with a finance internship. Although I know I would have learned a lot, I feel as though I was spared a summer of anxiety and stress, stemming from the fact that I was not truly passionate about finance. Instead, I participated in a short marketing internship at a technology firm and then conducted my own Wharton-supported research project in Europe.
Among students, the phrase “the funnel” is often thrown around when discussing future career paths of Wharton graduates. The funnel refers to the “sure-fire” paths that many students will end up choosing, leading them to a career in either investment banking or consulting. Although both are great fields, especially for students who are genuinely interested in them, the funnel helps to explain the lack of diversity in the jobs that many Wharton students end up accepting.
With that in mind, I was extremely happy this year, my junior year, when I committed to following my passion. As a junior, to which most internships are geared, I have realized that there are countless opportunities in marketing in other industries in which a Wharton student might be interested. I now feel as though the sky was the limit. I am grateful to have experienced the difference between interviewing for a position you are passionate about versus one that you feel like you have to agree to because it is what most other students do.
Here is how I would advise my peers: Chase what you love. Although most of us have long careers ahead, during which there will be changes big and small, it is important to pursue opportunities now that align with our interests. It is less important to follow the crowd or do what others are doing for the sake of following a pre-determined path, than it is to have the courage to go after what truly makes you happy.