Do not pick your career as a sophomore


Media: Tiffany Wang '22

Co-Editor-in-Chief Aleksandr Glamazdin ’22 holding the “Authority and Social Control” spread from Issue 5, Volume CXXVII.

“Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do in life.”

We’ve all heard this many times, and for some, the future is terrifying. However, my sophomore reaction was something along the lines of “Pffff, how stupid are you if you don’t know what you want to be after high 

I had figured everything out already:

Hill (4 years) -> Ivy League University (4 years) -> Investment Banking Analyst (1-2 years) -> Private Equity Associate (2-3 years) -> IB Senior Associate or Vice President (1-2 years) -> IB Managing Director or Senior Vice President -> start my own hedge fund. I’m only 35 and already have an eight-digit income. Living the American Dream in my 57th St penthouse.

Looking back, I cannot help but chuckle. In my Foster 1W room, I planned out the next two decades of my life. And I wasn’t the only one who did this. These “100%” career tracks extend well beyond finance – I know students who had a similar plan in biotech, engineering, computer science, consulting, marketing and even academia. Quick tip: don’t do this. 

It is easy to succumb to the pressures around you and “pick your future” early on, especially as an ambitious student. The career path is often very straightforward, usually pays well, and when your grandparents or any other adults ask you what your plan is, you can always proudly say, “I want to be an engineer/doctor/programmer.” But do you?

Sure, coding is cool, but do you want to look over thousands of lines of code from a junior developer for five years? Everyone would love to get a Friday Dorsia reservation and listen to Huey Lewis And The News, but do you want to spend 80 hours rearranging logos in PowerPoint or modeling in Excel? You want to be a surgeon, but have you ever seen an open wound? My point is that careers romanticized in the U.S. might not be exactly what they seem. 

By choosing your career early, you are depriving yourself of the opportunity to explore. And you need to explore. Yes, you’ve heard this 5000 times, but this is exactly why everyone tells you this. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do in life. I don’t. If you don’t know, you’ll look, and if you look, you’ll find something that will make you happy.