On paper, my internship sounds fantastic. I report directly to the CEO of a fast-growing healthcare start-up. I get to work on projects directly presented to leadership of our clients and help forge potential partnerships for the company. My co-workers are some of the nicest people that you could meet and are so willing to work with interns. They’re incredibly flexible about schedules, not to mention they have good catering for Friday lunches. With this fantastic of an opportunity, how could I possibly be unhappy?
The side of this internship I wouldn’t put on my resume: Our CEO doesn’t really have the time or the capacity to manage interns, so my projects had no direction or feedback, but when he sent me messages at 11:00 at night, I felt like I needed to respond and act. I worked with a lot of data to present to our clients, but it was confusing data and I didn’t know how to manage the delinquent collection process. Every day is a roller coaster for the company’s success (as it is for most fast growing start ups), and it seems you can’t plan more than a week ahead of time. Additionally, all of my wonderful co-workers are 25 years old and have dedicated their life to this start-up willingly or unwillingly, so they worked all sorts of “flexible” hours and it seemed like I was expected to do the same.
I thought it was me, so I worked harder, but working 10-hour days with a 1.5-hour one-way commute along with classes isn’t a recipe for happiness, either. What was worse was knowing that it was my decisions that led to this unhappiness. I chose to do this program, I chose the company, and I chose to commute. Individually, all of these things aren’t that bad, but the combination doesn’t work for me. I didn’t understand how my mental calculations were so wrong. About halfway through the semester, I was ready to leave the program. I talked to our program director about it. He tried to help me understand that it was a systemic issue and encouraged me to switch to a different company.
I could have switched. I probably could have been happier for the remaining six weeks and avoided some tears on the Caltrain. I decided to stick it out, and I think learning how to deal with this unhappiness is one of the most valuable things that I’ve gained.
I forced myself to identify the specific things that were making me unhappy: ill-defined projects, lack of external validation and disorganization, and then define new metrics for my happiness and success. I’ve learned how to make my happiness independent of feedback from others and manage my expectations of myself. I’ve had some tough conversations about my dissatisfaction with my internship and my performance with my boss, and fortunately was able to identify a mentor to help me navigate these conversations. I have had to say “no” to projects and be selfish about my time.
It’s been a tough semester, but I’m sure that I will have projects and periods of my career where I will be far unhappier, and I’ve learned coping strategies and skills that I will be able to employ in the future.
Throughout the semester, more than anything, I’ve wanted to return to CMC and just be happy again, but I’ve realized it’s not that simple—nor was I really that happy at CMC. It was just familiar and safe. I’ve had to ask myself some serious questions about what it means to be happy and why people pursue it. I’m not fully satisfied with the answers I’ve come up with, and I expect this will be something I wrestle with for a long time. I should be able to be happy, after all, regardless of where I am.
While I can’t wait to return to the “happiest college in America,” I’m beginning to learn that I have to make my own happiness—anywhere I end up.]]>
Anyone who has listened to or heard of Dr. Dre’s album “The Chronic” has heard of each of these neighborhoods, and has a vague idea of what these areas I pass through might be like. Some may even label these the, “avoid at all costs” neighborhoods of Southern California. However, I don’t. I just see this as my way to get home.
On the train, a man boards carrying a box of chips, probably from a value pack purchase one would find at Walmart. He tells passengers he is selling bags for a dollar each. He informs the passengers he also has “loose ones” for anyone that would like to purchase. He’s a very friendly guy. I give him a dollar for a bag, and the person next to me purchases a loose one for fifty cents.
The slang term “loose one” refers to a cigarette sold out of an open pack for anywhere between ten cents to one dollar, depending on the area. In that moment, I realized that he had committed a crime. I remembered that six months ago in New York City, Eric Garner had been harassed and then choked to death because he had been selling untaxed cigarettes in public for profit.
Living on a college campus, we have all seen more than our fair share of illegal activities from fellow students. Why is Eric Garner’s life worth less than ours, or those of other college students whom we see breaking the law? This is only one instance where police almost actively ignore illegal activities, but there are many others in America. Surely there are offenses worse than selling cigarettes that police either discount or don’t see.
Walking through North Quad on any given Saturday night, I see my fair share of underage drinking, illegal drug use, and general vandalism to the school. I have woken up from Sunday mornings unsurprised to see lounges’ windows smashed, light fixtures in Crown Hall pulled out, Marks’ ceiling destroyed, and even Wohlford tables thrown about and smashed. However, I have yet to see any students fined, suspended, cited, or arrested in an attempt to hold those responsible for their actions.
Although these instances may not be an accurate representation of America as a whole, it is impossible to deny that we live in a world where there is an asymmetric, racially- and socioeconomically-fueled enforcement of laws. From the enforcement of the “Stand Your Ground” law, to our individual states’ gun laws, to specific highway driving laws, we see an alarming inconsistency in the way law enforcement chooses to act on them.
This difference in enforcement mirrors The Daily Show’s Jessica Williams’ statement that “the Stand Your Ground defense [among other similar laws] is like bleach: It works miracles for whites but it will ruin your colors.” To those who see fault in this statement, I look back several years ago to one of my first truly unfair run-ins with the police: it’s hard to believe that in that instance I was honestly pulled over just for “failing to use my turning signal” with no one behind me when I turned onto an empty road.
In making this statement, I ask, was the police confrontation with Eric Garner racially biased? I can’t possibly bring myself to rationalize that a man should be surrounded and choked to death, purposefully or not, for selling loose cigarettes.
However, I am not writing to argue the details of the case or say whether or not the police officer in question should be indicted. I do not want to preach to you my view on the case. I wish to bring to light the alarming silence among CMC’s student population. We pride ourselves on being a liberal arts school that admits a balance of thinkers, both conservative and liberal, providing a spark for thorough and constructive discussion.
I am ashamed to see that our student body has expressed so few reactions to the events that have passed in the last couple weeks. With some of our most popular majors being Economics, Government, International Relations, History, and Philosophy, there should be discussion about anything and everything that significantly impacts our country’s laws, views, economy, and how our American practices are perceived by others. The killings of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Oscar Grant, and others have an enormous impact on the subjects we’re studying, and I am shocked that these events have not become a larger part of conversations on our campus.
When attending the protest outside of City Hall after the Ferguson Grand Jury verdict and other related events, which are generally led by students from Pitzer, Pomona, and Scripps, I feel alone as a CMC student. I love my college, and I defend our student body against any stereotyped comments by other 5C students. However, I am embarrassed when I can’t defend CMC because of our college’s silence on events this important. If there is a group of students, aside from those representing the Black Student Affairs group, attempting to speak out on this by way of protest, petitioning, or even making their opinions heard through social media, I am unaware of them.
CMC, I challenge you to stay aware about events like the killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, which are causing the relationship and trust between our government and the people to devolve rapidly. I challenge you to develop your voices on these cases, and make them heard in all constructive ways possible. I encourage you to bring these issues up in your classes in order to establish a concrete relationship between your courses and the effects of these events on those outside of the Claremont bubble.
If you would like to get involved and learn about the cases, I encourage you to read into the stories of the many people mentioned here to whom the police have done injustice. Furthermore, try to avoid news articles that exhibit a clear bias one way or another in order to establish your own views on the subject. Here is a link to look into the most recent killings that are reaching national attention.
Links are also attached to petitions for several different calls to action resulting from the death of Eric Garner. These range from firing Daniel Pantaleo (the NYPD officer who choked Garner to death), barring police officers from holding military grade weapons, requiring all police officers to wear body cameras, and general calls for action against police brutality. Petitions relating to other cases can be found online as well.]]>