Sathiyan Sivakumaran is a 3rd year student at the University of California, Berkeley, and is pursuing a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Demography. He’s looking to graduate in the Fall of 2015, and is interested in opportunities varying from financial analysis to consulting and management; his interests outside school and work are centered around basketball and tennis, though. Moving from a small town in West Virginia to the Bay Area has given Sathiyan a unique perspective on two completely different areas of the United States.
College is a weird gateway from the life of a child to the life of an adult. You’re thrown into independence, but you still are surrounded by people who help you develop. Typically, you’re still financially dependent on your family, at least partially. However, you know during your freshman year that you have a few years to get your life on the right path. Junior year is when things begin to get scary, exciting, and the future becomes imminent and feels much more like the present. You start to crank up the internship search, and you start to find out more about the jobs you want to consider after you graduate. However, nothing’s set in stone at this point, so you’re completely bewildered. How can you deal with it?
The important thing to remember in Junior year is that you should be pursuing something you enjoy learning about and doing. If this isn’t happening for you at this point in your college life, you should rethink what you’re doing. Don’t just blindly follow what your classmates are doing. The thing we have to remember about our futures is that it is indeed “our” futures. I don’t want my life to be exactly like my classmate’s, even if he or she is working at Facebook. It might just not be right for us. Since it’s our Junior year, we’re probably taking a majority of upper-division courses. This means there’s still some time to cast our nets wide in the classes we take, as surprising as this may seem.
You might ask, how can we really spend time exploring at this point? The key is when you choose classes. In general, by this time we at least know what major we’re in and want to do. However, we still have flexibility with the classes we choose to take and the internships we choose to apply for. For example, I’m an Economics major. I’m trying to take classes in financial and behavioral economics, as well as classes on public policy next semester. I don’t have a clue whether I’d enjoy working for the government or on Wall Street, but I may as well explore classes that relate to these work opportunities. It’s the same deal with internships as well. Of course it’s terrifying that this might be your last internship opportunity before you’re working full-time, but you still have flexibility. It’s important to apply to places you’re interested in, and to places you could see yourself working at even past the internship. The point of this time in your life is to cast your net wide, and see what you catch, because there may be some surprises.
Life as a junior might be difficult, but it’s also a great time in your life for exploring. It’s scary, but also exciting, and you have to embrace the emotional rollercoaster. Ride it, and enjoy it. It’s important to keep this in our minds. We still have time to explore our futures, and we shouldn’t get caught up with what others are doing in their lives. Our futures are meant to be different, and these futures are meant to cater to our desires and interests. Keep this in mind for both internship applications and class opportunities, and I wish you the best of luck!