Why is the reward for acceptance to an Ivy League school working 70 hours a week at Goldman Sachs? Shouldn’t the point of going to Cornell be to earn a decent living doing something less burdensome, even if it involves taking a pay cut?
How does speedrunning Cuphead tie into résumé building? The point of all experiences for creating your résumé is not the prestige or name-recognition of your most recent internship. Rather, the goal is to show transferable skills from your past involvements to your prospective ones.
There are few requirements for students at Cornell besides a freshman writing seminar, two P.E. classes and the swim test. And while I — like many other students — appreciate the flexibility and customization of the curricula for students here, I want to propose one additional, minor requirement. While some may believe that there exists a tradeoff between taking college classes and pursuing more practical, professional experience, I believe we should have a university-wide requirement that bridges the divide between the two. This could take the form of a fieldwork requirement. Every student, regardless of which college they are in, must take a part-time or full-time internship during one of their eight semesters at Cornell that explores a potential professional field of interest.
Some of you still have a couple years before you need to figure this out, others of you already have – the return offer signed, sealed and delivered. But how many of us will answer this question the same way as we did in kindergarten? Our misspelling hands scrawling on our first homework assignments, writing down the reasons we wanted to be firefighters, astronauts, artists, secret agents, veterinarians, movie stars, the President, our fathers and mothers. Not once did you hear trade analyst, consultant, HR representative. Yes, that’s probably because half those words weren’t in our vocabulary yet.
In my poetry class last semester, our second unit of study was “The Weird.” Our homework was incredibly vague — write a poem or two that is weird, with only one stipulation: No mythical creatures, supernatural beings or magic. Our weird poems had to be about ordinary things. The goal was not to look at things that are different, but to look at things differently. (I wrote about California rolls.)
Fast forward a couple months into the pandemic: I’m reading Excellent Sheep by former Yale English professor William Deresiewicz, and “The Weird” appears again. In his book, Deresiewicz laments the dearth of “passionate weirdos” on today’s elite college campuses.
For students from non-traditional majors looking to build transferable skills for the professional workplace, choosing classes can be overwhelming. Two Cornell undergraduates and two recent graduates offered tips for ways to gain transferable skills for the workplace through Cornell’s many courses.
“You look at the floor, and it looks diverse. But there’s really no interaction with diverse team members — [they] aren’t going to lunch together, they aren’t collaborating together, they are not called on in team meetings …They’re kind of isolated.”
“Given I had never worked for a really large company, I had the image of these large firms as really well-oiled machines where everything was operating smoothly. It was reassuring and almost calming to see that there are mistakes along the way and no one’s perfect.”
Chen spoke to the lessons that students could take away from the program, including valuable soft skills such as interpersonal and communication skills, strong teamwork and leadership skills as well as hard skills including “business acumen from their mentors” and “how to implement industry practices in creating secure and robust software and designing impactful, user-friendly products.”