Career Advisors Giving Career Advice: Backup your Backups

By Sharanya Rajan, Class of 2018

By Sharanya Rajan, Class of 2018

“Have a Plan B” they said. “What is your backup?” others asked. You had answers to all of those, but at the back of your mind you thought “I don’t need a backup plan, I’m going to land my dream job”. The interview invites came in the dozens, and your conviction grew. It helped you trudge through the cold and snow to arrive at Harper at 7:30 am. Then, the call-backs began. Every time the phone rang, your heart beat faster, but after the first few NOs, it became routine – pick up the phone, sound cheery, ask for feedback and thank them for their time. With all your focus on your first choice, your backup plan had also fallen by the wayside. Despite how bleak things look however, all is not lost.

Although it’s easy to think that every person around you landed their first choice, rest assured that most 2Ys, had to make several pivots before they got their internship. You’re not alone! In fact, this is an opportunity to broaden your horizons. Perhaps that means moving away from campus recruiting, or looking at roles you hadn’t considered before. Regardless, when searching for that summer job, there are 2 key things to keep in mind:

1. There are multiple paths towards the same end-goal

2. A summer internship is simply a step towards that longer-term goal, and not a job for life

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In making this switch, it is important to have clarity around that end-goal. Are you interested in 2nd year campus recruiting? If so, use the feedback you received (yes… that is not merely a polite question) to identify areas of improvement, and find roles that will help you gain further experience. If not, then this is the perfect time to think about where you would like to be in the next 3 – 5 years and look for opportunities that will help you get there. The Booth alumni network is a great resource to help shape these longer-term decisions.

You might have planned endlessly for that dream internship. But, the best laid plans have a funny habit of not working out. It’s worth remembering the words of Clayton Christensen – there is a time to be deliberate, and a time to be open to the unexpected. Ultimately, you might love that summer internship you had originally never considered.

Sharanya Rajan is a Harry Potter nerd – she even waited for an owl from Hogwarts at age 11.