Thomas Edward Lawrence was always going somewhere. As a peculiar 15-year-old boy, he and his schoolyard friend Cyril Beeson rode around burial sites in his hometown of Oxford, England, voraciously studying whatever they could and presenting their findings to the local museum. Two years later, he would ride on bike throughout France, completing survey studies and observations of medieval castles throughout the land with that same friend. A few months later, he would enroll at Oxford University to begin his studies in history. There was something weirdly contradictory about the young man.
When it comes to our education timeline, we all like to think linearly and in absolute terms. We do well in high school, go to a good college, get a job or go to graduate school. We churn through our daily homework and prep for our tests; we network and interview, conscious of putting out best foot forward to secure our career interest. The slightest derailment leads to waves of anxiety — being left behind is a fear shared amongst students here. College students don’t do well when left in uncertainty. For most Cornell undergraduates, educational purgatory can be a maddeningly stressful experience.
When I was in high school, I had two friends who were both male, and maybe more importantly, Asian. We initially met each other at the behest of our parents, who wanted us to form a robot design team and compete in tournaments. That initial plan failed, but like all Asian males, we reveled in the parental disappointment and became friends anyways. Our distinctions made us tenuous friends. One, named Noah, was always the more social of the group.
We’re constantly worried about our careers — Handshake, networking, info sessions, apply, wait, rinse, repeat. Honestly, I’m tired of it, especially after a couple of torturously long info sessions this past week, but the career machine never stops. And so, in the latest installment of career related madness, I decided to attend Cornell’s Fall Career Fair Day along with a few friends. This year’s career fair was held at Barton Hall, which proved to be a good and bad decision. Good, because the sprawling mess of career fair booths left just enough room for students to squeeze into lines to greet the recruiters.
If you ever want to see Cornell’s version of C-Span, just pop into the weekly student assembly meeting at Willard Straight Hall and observe some brash politicking. It is open to the public, and while it is not something I would recommend for a first date, it is the place to be if you care about the path Cornell is going to take in the coming months. The funny thing about student politics is that the students who sit on the assembly are still developing their political identities, and in turn their principles. As a result, we witness ideas that are more fully formed than their creators. This often leads to spouts of well intentioned dialogue that can backfire with a dramatic thud.
It’s why teens and twenty-somethings, each carrying a binder and their resumes, dressed in business attire, waddle around a room in Statler Hotel for a networking session hosted by the Royal Bank of Canada. And because I’m a business major and I have one more column due for The Sun, I decide to pull double duty and join in on the fun.
The unspoken assumption about Dyson is that a significant portion of the students want a career in finance. And not just a career in finance — on Wall Street, too. Banks! Big, bloody banks. There isn’t anything more intriguing and sexy than working on Wall Street for most students here. The most popular concentration is finance. The most popular clubs are financing and investment. The panels where banks come to meet students at Cornell are easily the most attended. I went to an entrepreneurship panel today — seven people showed up.
“I think it’s important to realize how much the world has changed.”
It’s the kind of phrase that sounds bold at first, but blander the second time. But context matters. The world has changed — a backlash from nationalist populists against the unpleasant backwash of globalism has grabbed headlines by the throat. This past year, we’ve seen Britain exit the European Union, a rejection of refugees from multiple countries and resurgence of the far right in countries such as France and the Netherlands. At the epicenter, of course,was Donald Trump, the tweet-mugging, bombastic, always entertaining leader of the free world.
The lights are stripped back from the curtain, so the canvas is blank now — an empty, billowing mass of cloth that hangs behind the model runway. And then the music erupts: a shattering explosion of hyper percussion, thunder and a melody that seems to have been thrusted from the bubbling influence of Asian woodwinds. The pure fury of the drums sets the stage for the designer set. It’s loud, yet concise, pounding, yet razor sharp. I like it.
I have a serious question that needs a tongue in cheek answer: What makes a great business student? It’s really not as asinine as it sounds. Lately, I’m beginning to think that the market for business students is sorely lacking in clarity and ripe for exploitation, if we ever begin to think deeper than just grades and internships. On some level, this is article is inspired by the half measures business takes to define itself, because if the sciences are precision and humanities are expression, business is a premature gestation of both. We don’t derive Slutsky’s equation or breathe Shakespeare.