Column | Oct. 22

Finance or bust

Several times a week, my inbox is flooded with emails from TigerTracks about new opportunities in consulting, trading and investment banking. At first I thought that maybe I had made a mistake when I filled out my profile. Did I accidentally click “computer science” instead of “comparative literature” when I clicked on the drop-down box to list my major? Perhaps I clicked on one of the check-boxes for “consulting” when I really meant to click “communications/media” as one of my career preferences. But when I looked at my profile, I had made no errors. So why was I receiving emails that did not pertain to my interests? After expressing my opinions to friends, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who felt a little bit peeved about these emails. According to PolicyMic, in 2011 about 35 percent of Princeton students went into finance, which proves that the industry is booming.  The top investment banking companies come to Princeton and Harvard first to recruit students, and these emails are used to spread the word in order to prepare for the early recruitment and interviewing process. And I’m not suggesting that no one in the humanities goes into these types of job sectors. They do. But when I rarely see email alerts about arts companies, I cannot help but wonder if I, and many others who made sure to detail their preferences on TigerTracks, are being ignored.

As mentioned earlier, I understand that the recruitment process for finance companies starts very early in the year. Students dress in their best professional attire and head to Frist 302 to hear from employers, chat with them afterward and eat good food. Career Services tries to create a balance with these events; for example, they organize the annual Communications Careers & Networking Night. Looking at the description for the event, it is noted that these types of companies do not often recruit on campus. But why not? Those handling TigerTracks should count the students whose interests include the arts, editorials, writing, et cetera, so that they can use these statistics to attract companies from these particular job sectors to come to campus in order to recruit people. If Career Services targets students who participate in the Nassau Literary Review, the Nassau Weekly, The Daily Princetonian, creative writing classes and the countless theater groups, I can almost guarantee that you will find enough students to fill Dillon Gymnasium for a career fair that is specifically aimed at those who are interested in the arts. This will encourage companies from these sectors to network more with students. The demand is already there. The Freelance Artist’s Manifesto Boot Camp is another excellent example of an initiative hosted by Theatre Intime for those who are artistically inclined. But what about those artists who do not want to be freelance?  There are countless ways in which an artistic person can channel his or her skills, both in traditional and unconventional paths. For instance, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts or the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop could hold information sessions here. These options do exist, but we need access to them.

I have noticed that there are a few companies, such as those in translation, with deadlines that passed a few short days ago. What if reminders were sent about those opportunities? Since foreign language study is required for two years at Princeton and there are plenty of students who go beyond the requirement, these types of students should be catered to as well. Do you know how many Princetonians speak French?

Searching for jobs is a stressful topic for all seniors, but the process would be less overwhelming with balanced support from Career Services. Yes, finance students should be especially cognizant of deadlines and information sessions because the recruitment processes are early and tend to finish rather quickly. That doesn’t mean that the entire student community should be flooded with these emails, especially when we have never listed these career preferences. Instead, those who tend to fall on the artistic side should be informed and reminded about upcoming deadlines for other companies. Check out BuzzFeed (which was started by a Princeton alumnus, might I add) — there is a job opening this instant as a books editor. Many Princeton students on Facebook are constantly tuned into these websites. If Career Services could consolidate some of this information and send emails, perhaps others like me wouldn’t feel so left out.

Morgan Jerkins is a comparative literature major from Williamstown, N.J. She can be reached at mjerkins@princeton.edu.

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