Editorial: Break out of the mold

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In one month it will be spring, marking the final stretch toward the end of the school year.

Summer is approaching, which often means soaking in the sun rays and eating too much ice cream — but most importantly, for many Lehigh students, it means building their resume by working a job or three-month internship.

Today, internships are not just for rising seniors and overachieving sophomores. It is an expectation — and almost a mandatory requirement — that hopefully leads to a full-time offer after graduation. This is the “ideal” outcome of a “successful” summer.

To help students find internships, Lehigh hosts a career expo every semester where more than 100 firms are invited to Rauch Field house. Its purpose is to bring students and recruiters together to network so students can gain employment opportunities for the summertime and beyond.

Engineering, finance and accounting majors seem to flock toward the expo with ample opportunity to get a foot in the door.

You can expect to see a sea of recruiters in their business professional grey and black suits with students identically reflecting them, nervously clutching a stack of freshly printed resumes.

But for those of us who cannot find a relevant recruiter with whom to network at the fair, the natural reaction is to panic that we’re missing out on a supposed future-altering event. It can be disappointing to realize our only shot at finding employment is to join the thousands of others who scour online job postings and hope we’ll somehow stand out.

For those who study liberal arts, it seems as though the career fair’s unspoken motto is “How to use your arts degree to get into business.”

Though Lehigh’s academic programs often have a strong focus on interdisciplinary studies, it seems as though the companies and jobs we are presented with are often not reflective of these interests.

There are few options for the students who are less interested in a nine-to-five desk job in a corporate office.

Even freshmen and sophomore students, who are still figuring out what they want to study, feel pressured to find an internship with one of the very specialized organizations that Lehigh invites.

There’s pressure to start off in a field that reflects your academic strengths, but what if you develop other strengths throughout your college career that you want to explore?

When the employment opportunities seem narrow, it can be tempting for people to focus solely on their majors and close themselves off from other areas of exploration. Sticking to what you know is comfortable, but it’s important to recognize how different areas of study are interconnected.

When you learn about and talk to people with different backgrounds and perspectives, it’s clear to see that there is more to a career than the confines of a textbook teaches.

If students are so professionally focused, they might not stop to think about the countless companies that do not show up to the career fair.

Students in every area of study have the potential to be successful and make a difference in the world.

Each and every person should be aware that they have power in their respective career paths, whether they are working on Wall Street or writing for the Wall Street Journal.

It’s all about how we get there.

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