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Thursday, June 13, 2024
The Observer

It's okay to wear shorts this summer

Lots of suits. Blouses, dresses, shoes that look professional but I can’t really walk in. Carefully crafted resumes in official-looking folders.

The career fair is Tuesday!

For me, the mention of the career fair brings a whole array of emotions. I know having access to the kinds of opportunities available at the career fair is an indescribable privilege. I’m excited to see where everything I’ve learned at Notre Dame can take me. Yet, I also feel quite a bit of pressure and intimidation.

Unfortunately, it seems talk of summer opportunities and your future and life after Notre Dame can bring out the competitive side of the student body. That’s understandable, because we’re all definitely experiencing some pressure and intimidation. I don't need to tell you that a culture of comparison doesn't really get us anywhere, though.

Thus, amidst the pressures of this week, I’ll offer another narrative: It’s okay to choose shorts over business-casual this summer. It’s okay to decide against the prestigious internship route. We have a limited number of “free” summers left before we begin life beyond an academic-year calendar. Shouldn’t those summers be filled with whatever will make us better people? Isn’t forming us into better people the whole goal of higher education?  (I think the Meruelo Family Center for Career Development would probably agree with me, too.)

Here’s a reminder, then, that the opportunity that will make me a better person this summer is likely different from what’s best for you. A business-casual internship across the country might facilitate growth for one of us, while the other would learn much more at home working in a tank top and running shorts. Your resume may say you worked your high school job for another year, but it won’t convey all the wisdom you gained because you got to spend extra time with your grandma.

Right now, I don’t know what kind of summer plans would be best for me. I will probably explore a lot of options. Last summer, though, I definitely had a summer of shorts, as the pandemic and a whole lot of luck led me to work as a waitress in a tourist town. I took the job because it sounded fun, and it was a blast.

Looking back (and maybe this is a self-serving position to take), last summer produced a lot of growth, too. I made great friends who were both strikingly similar and wildly different from me. I worked many hours on my feet and gained a lot of appreciation for the service industry. I learned to multitask like nobody’s business. I got better and better at making small talk with customers, which was a big win as an introvert. I was also truly on my own for the first time, having never lived anywhere but Notre Dame and with my family. I’d like to think that was a valuable use of time!

I’m writing this column as a reminder to myself as much as anyone else. I certainly fall victim to the culture of comparison at times, and perhaps putting this all in writing will make it stick in my own head. Here’s to taking a deep breath, and letting the growth happen however it does.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.