Student Stories

The Growing Depersonalization of the Workforce

Lately, amidst the chaos associated with summer internship application season, I have been thinking a lot about my college career thus far.

I have floundered considerably in terms of major and professional pursuits. It took me almost three years to settle on my current major, and I’m still unsure if it’s the right path for me. However, my indecisiveness has allowed me to take a step back and think about what I could have done differently, and how I would have tailored my interests to my major and extracurricular activities.

Something that has come up frequently are career prospects in relation to your college major. Very few people, when discussing post-graduation plans, ask about how much you enjoyed your classes or why, personally, you chose the path that you did.

Most people are more concerned with how your specific major was able to open doors for you, how many opportunities it provided you. This speaks to the growing professionalization that is consuming college campuses. College is no longer about passion – it’s about grades, resume fillers, and jobs.

I wish I knew of a way to bring the focus back around to learning. Students, and the workforce in general, would benefit immensely from learning to actually enjoy the material and the educational process leading up to a full-time position. Passion facilitates hard work, and hard work leads to success within companies, so shouldn’t the main goal of educational institutions be to ignite that fire within each student in order to make them excited to put their knowledge to practical use?

Employers do create diverse applications that attempt to touch on more subjective aspects of an applicant; they ask what makes you more qualified than others, why you want the job, how you have shown leadership abilities, etc. But, it’s tempting for them to base their decisions heavily on the more objective factors, such as experience, GPA, and extracurricular involvement.

I want to go into advertising or marketing because I want my employer to appreciate my individuality and creativity. I want to be distinguished based on my passions, my uniqueness, and my ideas that I bring to the table; but I also recognize that quantitative elements of an application are important as well.

Advertising and marketing seem to value individuality more so than many other fields, which are much more black and white in terms of the screening process.

This is facilitating the depersonalization of the American workforce.

This is an issue that needs to be remedied soon. Careers are all about finding your niche, loving what you do, and building your professional network and skillset. It seems that more people are setting aside their passions and pursuing careers that have no personal meaning to them. Employers are, in turn, placing emphasis on the quantitative and objective aspects of an application, and this process creates a long-term outlook on the job market that is bleak and impersonal, to say the least.

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Trevor Stoimenoff

Trevor Stoimenoff is from Grand Ledge, Mich. He currently attends Northwestern University and is double majoring in economics and psychology.