Ever since the 8th grade, I was certain that business, especially marketing, was going to be my major.I was dead set on it. I had a vision– becoming a CEO of a big Fortune 500 company. I would be the Messiah for Asian women, breaking the glass barrier and pioneering a clear path for other like-minded people.
All throughout high school, I became president of various clubs that both suited my interests in music and business and sports and etc and helped build my leadership skills– necessary for my plan of becoming CEO. Head of Future Business Leaders of America chapter at my school ever since 9th grade, winning prices and awards in marketing competitions, attending various business-related seminars and programs during my breaks. Business consumed my life, and my myopic vision and tightly packed schedule would not allow for any straggling hesitations.
This, I know, is true for many people.
Doctors, lawyers, businessman/woman, consultants, bankers– these are professions that are profitable and well-known. Most people are unable to see what other careers might be more suitable, because it’s risky. These are considered the “golden jobs.”
Now. Here I am at a Big Four consulting company interning as an incoming sophomore. Let’s just be frank here, I did not get this from my own merits and achievements but because my uncle knows someone who works here. But I wanted to intern/shadow here because I have been having doubts about whether going down the business rabbit hole was the right choice for me. I wanted to see how a real consulting company operates instead of how I imagine a real consulting company operates. I had done consulting projects at college and enjoyed them, so I wanted to use this as a way to verify my career path. I am an anxious child, and the time to announce my major (second semester sophomore year) was fast approaching.
This was it. I always loved presenting, helping companies and people, so consulting, to me, was the ideal career path. Creating PowerPoints, presenting, traveling, helping people for a living?! I mean, that sounds great. And it is great.
I realized when I got to my internship that what I had imagined consulting as was accurate– but only a little. It is creating PowerPoints and holding daily meetings with the company/people who hired you and presenting what you’ve been up to. You certainly help people, you help the people who hired you.
But this was maybe, maybe 30% of the job?
70% of it consisted of massive amounts of research, times where I spent typing away at my desk manually inserting data into tiny Excel spreadsheet blocks until I could physically feel my eyeballs disintegrating from the computer’s blue waves.
There are people who genuinely love doing this. One of the interns was a recent graduate who had been studying to go to law school during her entire college career. She had gotten accepted only to realize that she no longer felt passionate about law– she felt like she would be contained in a box for too long. So, following her brother, she stepped into consulting. And currently, she finds it a much better fit than law school.
Seeing someone who studied something completely irrelevant to business and still received an internship offer at a top consulting firm allowed me to recognize that college can only teach theorems and plausible “business” scenarios. But going into the business world doesn’t really require you to remember Nash Equilibrium or how to solve t tests on an Excel spreadsheet. Instead, you need to be more practical and quick on your feet. Business is not something you learn in school but rather something you experience.
Thus, I have decided to consider other majors that I need to learn in college in order to succeed. I don’t think I can no longer work in an environment/industry where personal connections and extensive networks get you farther than actual skill sets. For now, I am leaning towards anthropology, especially how foods play into human lives (more on this on later post).
I am so so scared because my life is not figured out. I am running out of time, and I don’t do well when I’m close to a deadline. Right now, my goal is to achieve clarity in my path after college. I think I’m getting closer to what I want everyday, but as I said, it’s only a matter of time.