Opinion

Why the career fair is a disappointment

Is MIT losing its way in its service to the world?

When I applied to MIT in 2012, I pictured a brilliant haven filled with talented, driven, and passionate young people, striving to learn and apply their knowledge to solve the world’s greatest problems. Across this square mile of Cambridge, I pictured ten thousand minds working toward global improvement, and an institute that wants nothing more than to see its students facilitate change. At the time, being able to join this community seemed like a remote possibility.

As a senior in high school, I hoped to study biology because I genuinely cared about learning how the world works; I was fascinated by the way the human body interacts with its surroundings. I figured that of all places, MIT, this grandiose institution for higher learning, could teach me how to solve the problems associated with this delicate symbiosis.

Two years later, I’ve joined several student groups that are working toward these goals, though they were a challenge to find. During my first semester, I began to grow disheartened because I couldn’t find a single group working seriously on climate change. I was both sad and excited to say that such a group (Fossil Free MIT) was founded during my first semester.

A large part of our outreach occurred during orientation, when freshmen are still enthusiastic and open-minded. At the activities midway, I spoke to an upperclassman about climate change, giving her my somewhat impersonal and dry spiel (as I’ve become jaded after two semesters here). I asked if she was concerned about climate change, to which she replied: “To be honest, not really. I don’t really care about anything outside of my immediate universe.”

What? You don’t care about anything?

How is it possible that at MIT, an institution founded on principles of service and intellectual rigor, there exists a single person who doesn’t care about anything outside of his or her own immediate universe? We have all of the potential and resources necessary to change the way the world works. There are so many problems that we have the brains and the willpower to solve — we just need leadership. We need guidance, and currently we are being guided in the wrong direction.

Three weeks after this encounter, nothing has changed. The career fair is approaching, and students are preparing for a day of “opportunity.” MIT’s Global Education & Career Development center (GECD) is holding extended walk-in hours to help students perfect their résumés and interviewing techniques, their firm handshakes and conversation skills, in order to maximize job offers from companies like BP, Chevron, Quizlet, P&G, Intel, GM, TripAdvisor, and Morgan Stanley. There are daily information sessions with Microsoft, AQR, CRA, and Exxon. MIT’s Society of Women Engineers is holding a career fair banquet with opportunities to network with representatives from L’Oreal, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Shell, and Schlumberger.

I’ve been told by upperclassmen that career fair is an opportunity. Classes are cancelled. There are hundreds of companies. They’re waiting for me to come up and talk to them, waiting for me to drop my résumé, waiting for me to apply for an internship. And I need to impress them.

Really, MIT? We need to impress them?

The career fair serves as an effort to funnel some of the world’s brightest minds into lives of comfort and apathy. When did solving the world’s problems mean drilling for more oil than we can afford to burn, coding the next “original” iPhone application, designing more products for consumers to purchase, or consulting these companies so that they can make even more money than they already do?

MIT, I thank you for the exceptional and objective education I’ve received over the past two semesters. But now I need more. I need guidance; I need empowerment and reassurance that despite the current sentiment that finding a “good” job is the most important return from an education, I can still make a difference. I need to know that we are better than Exxon, than TripAdvisor, than P&G, than Quizlet, than BP, than Facebook, than Yelp, and collectively that we have more of a potential to shape the world. I need to know that we are better than career fair.

33 Comments
1
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

You hit the nail on the head. The career fair is such a pretentious event, it makes me puke.

Oh, you forgot to mention recruiters like the NSA, CIA etc.

2
RJ Ryan almost 5 years ago

What the... How does Quizlet appear in your miscellaneous list of companies that aren't worth working at?

They're an MIT startup working on changing education. I'll agree there are plenty of companies that aren't really doing world-changing things (or maybe they're changing things in a bad way) but your general thesis that joining a company is just about "getting a job" is a huge put-down to the scores of companies and startups out there who are really trying to change the world.

Getting a PhD and staying in the MIT ivory tower your whole life isn't really the greatest option either if your goal is to "shape the world".

I'll agree that the career fair and its organizers are pretty disgusting (Super shady financials -- where does all the money go? Why does it cost an MIT startup with no money $1000 to get a booth?), but don't lose faith in the idea of a company! All it is is the most effective legal structure we've come up with for allowing a group of smart people to try and change the world while minimizing personal risk. If you don't think any existing companies are doing world-shaping work, found one yourself. That's pretty much the only way things get done in this world. Even MIT is a corporation.

3
Raphael Dumas almost 5 years ago

Hi RJ,

I just wanted to comment on your issue of "shady" financials. The career fair is entirely student organized run. The money raised goes to those organizing partners (and represents around half the GSC's budget).

Cheers,

-Raphael

Course 1 Rep

4
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

As an MIT parent it is refreshing to hear the focus of your education's value shifted from "what can I get from it" to "what can I do with it". Keep the faith Madeline - there must be many, many more like you there who want to make a difference, and you can.

5
Ahmed almost 5 years ago

Yeah dude, corporations are like totally evil, man.

6
CQi almost 5 years ago

If you think all companies are evil giants trying to ruin this world, and that the students are greedy close-minded tyrants looking for the highest paying jobs... who is being the close-minded tyrant here? I grew up in a low-income family, and I would do anything - including getting a paying job at a real company - NOT to go back to those days of poverty.

How ignorant of you to think that we, as MIT students, are "better" than those companies, that are composed, in large part, of real people trying to make a living.

Now I agree that we need more startups and different types of companies that claim to do "good", whatever that means - but really, your startup or club is probably not changing the world. People like Sheryl Sandberg and Steve Jobs have probably inspired more people that you have, so please don't say that we are "better" than them just because we made it to MIT.

If you take away all of the companies at the Career Fair, you won't have a lot of the technologies that you use on a daily basis, from Google to Apple to Akamai to HP. Hell, you won't even have the internet to share your opinions.

Did you know that, if you summed all of the companies created by MIT alums, it would be the 11th-largest economy in the world? Is that not "good" enough for you? Ironically, many of these companies are at the Career Fair today. But that doesn't mean that they're evil and that you're better than them.

Try opening up and talking with them - they're human too.

7
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

Yes, you do need to impress recruiters, even coming from a place like MIT. Education gets you only so far--the rest is your motivation, passion and demonstrated competence. A lot of new graduates come in with a similar attitude..."I'm from MIT! I've proven to be awesome in this short chunk of my life! Fawn over me!" This kind of attitude leads to dispassion and complacency.

Also, working at a company is not a bad thing or a dead end--in many cases, you learn crucial skills for becoming a professional and a person with credibility in your field...tools you need to become a formidable force in whatever career path you choose to take.

I think it's great that the fees of the career fair go back into GSC's budget...companies can certainly afford them (even start-ups and non-profits who are actually hiring).

8
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

It should really be /first/ about choosing what to do and /second/ finding a company who is willing to pay for it.

9
RJ Ryan almost 5 years ago

Raphael,

Allow me to elaborate. Just because an organization is student run does not mean there is no chance for corruption or that the entire premise of the organization is not corrupt. [1]

Why does the career fair not publish its financials on its website? Could it be because they don't want people to know the event produces massive profits? Color me entirely unsurprised that GSC's share of the profits, $286k in FY13 [2], constitute over half the GSC budget.

By saying the money goes to the "organizing partners" all you're saying is that the people who run the show skim the profits off the top. That doesn't change the fact that the "organizing partners", the senior class council, GSC and SWE are generating huge profits by selling access to the MIT community to companies and start-ups.

The MIT Career Fair (i.e. the event itself) produces no value. The true value that the MIT Career Fair sells to companies is the MIT community itself, which the MIT Career Fair does not own or have any right (in the ethical sense) to sell access to for a profit.

This isn't the "GSC Career Fair" or the "SWE Career Fair", you are running the "MIT Career Fair". By some strange arrangement that I don't understand, MIT allows you to run a for-profit career fair and market it as the official MIT fall career fair.

Charging MIT start-ups $1000 just to talk to students is pathetic. We should support our own, at the very least. MIT has a strong culture of entrepreneurship and supporting fellow Tech men and women. Post-MIT our community network is one of our strongest assets. Why does the MIT Career Fair not reflect these community values?

Why is the MIT Career Fair allowed to sell access to the MIT Community to companies at a huge profit?

That is what I meant by "shady". Sure, there is huge precedent for running the event this way. That doesn't mean it's ethical.

[1] http://tech.mit.edu/V122/N37/37money.37n.html

[2] https://web.mit.edu/gsc/www/budget/GSCBudget_FY13_amended2.pdf

10
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

Perhaps some of the companies you listed operate with the goal of making profit -- they also share SO much of their expertise, resources and money to solve some of these "greater problems" you are hoping to solve.

Nobody owes you anything. The fact that you are at MIT does not guarantee a life of "comfort and apathy", nor does it guarantee that people with millions of dollars will come to you hoping that you will somehow solve their greater problems -- just because you go to MIT. Realize that no matter what you do or what problem you solve, you will not be able to do it alone. It is likely you will have to work with these people who only aspired for "good" jobs, because they'll also have skills, knowledge and passion that can still be used to help further your causes.

I applaud you for continuing to work on some of these global issues that are meaningful to you, but please do not look down on the other paths people take at MIT. People find fulfillment in multiple ways, and it is not your place to determine one way everybody at MIT should find it.

11
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

I agree that the career fair is a problem for a related but slightly different reason.

I think by calling it a "career fair," we are defining the word "career" to mean making a lot of money as a computer programmer, consultant, or banker.

Do not teachers, librarians, janitors, auto-mechanics, grocers, technicians, carpenters, and keepers of the faith also also have careers? And doesn't our country need all of these people, especially teachers at the moment? I realise these people are not usually at MIT, but wouldn't another name work better; "High Tech Job Fair" or something.

As far as MIT students thinking they're all that: what, psychologically, do you think it does to a person to have to show their MIT ID to even get within 100 feet of a recruiter. There is no MIT elitism there. I cannot think of a reason why they have to check ID's other than pompousness. God forbid an outsider should find a job at MIT's career fair.

I don't have a problem with most of big business. I don't like some aspects-- the whole "appearance" thing where you buy each other expensive coffees to look more successful, the wearing expensive cologne and stuffed suits. That's degrading, not-genuine, and is only for ego and money.

I have even more a problem with people who go against their values--whatever they may be--for the sake of their wallet or ego by working for a cause that they find morally wrong.

12
Stan Nikolov almost 5 years ago

I agree that apathy is bad, and I commend you for calling on people to aspire to a higher purpose than having a comfortable day job. However, people only have limited time and attention to pursue that purpose. One person can't be expected to know intimately all of the big problems in the world, let alone to take action on them (although total ignorance and apathy, at least on regarding a small set of the world's biggest problems, is not excusable either).

13
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

I agree with what CQi said in comment #6, how ignorant are you??

Some of us are just trying to make a living for ourselves because we were raised in an environment where change and impact was my mother working two jobs so I could play sports. Just because we want to improve our quality of life, does not make me a worse person than you. I refuse to accept that you Madeline are a "better" person because you have different values than me.

And for those students who were not raised in a poor environment and still want to make a living, it is condescending of you to try and belittle their hopes and dreams.

We all have different values and goals, none of them better than the other, just different.

14
Yan Zhu almost 5 years ago

This post was entirely justified and necessary. (Minus the fact that Quizlet probably doesn't deserve to be on that list, as RJ pointed out.)

A number of the criticizing comments here have argued that companies like Apple and Facebook, on their way to making massive profits, ultimately spawn technologies that do good for the world; furthermore, even MIT students need to support themselves day-to-day regardless of their greater goals. But I think a salient counter-argument is that MIT grads can and absolutely must hold themselves to a higher standard than what these companies represent.

What I am implicitly saying is that (1) there are greater problems that humanity faces than how to get people to trigger certain javascript callbacks that generate ad revenue, and (2) people with the intellect and stamina to lead technological revolutions have a near-moral responsibility to solve these greater problems. The fact is that most MIT graduates can find a job and figure out a way to support themselves in most circumstances, which means they have a rare privilege among young people: the ability to take on great risks and be okay if they fail.

In practice, a dismayingly small percentage of MIT graduates use this privilege for tackling the hardest and most valuable problems of our generation. Climate change is a fine example, given that the lower limit of the time it'll take for atmospheric methane to collapse the global economy is on the order of decades (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jul/24/arctic-thawing-permafrost-climate-change).

Even those of us who work as software engineers and tech CEO's usually fail to address the question of whether we are making technology for a world where knowledge is free and accessible to everyone, or a world where governments and corporations can freely intrude on the private communications of every single person. Too often, we generate technology that is groundbreaking and astonishing without conscientiously addressing their potential to destroy civil liberties and strip away basic human rights. We can and must exert more pull over the ethical consequences of our innovation.

It is absolutely our moral responsibility to try to make the world we want to live in.

Yan Zhu

Electronic Frontier Foundation

MIT '12, Course 8

The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

15
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

If you, #6, think that "making a living" necessitates selling out on your ethics, than I'm sure you'll do fine. There are plenty of big (and yes, evil) corporations willing to use your mind to the fulfillment of THEIR objectives. The author is simply suggesting that there are other ways to make a living (and as an MIT grad, you WILL have the pick of them...perhaps helping others out of poverty could be one). Speaking of, does 'not being in poverty' necessitate living in a gated community with a housekeeping staff? Get out of your pity party and listen to what's really being said. There is a reason that it's called an OPINION.

16
Chris M. almost 5 years ago

I can appreciate the article and it's sentiments, but personally I disagree. Any of the companies named (Apple, Google, etc.) do a lot to make people's lives better and happier. To me it seems a little out of bounds to look at someone doing a job they enjoy that enriches people's lives and sneer "yeah, well that's not a REAL problem you're solving".

I strongly believe that if you want to solve the big problems, the way to do it is to make them attractive enough to be in the leagues of problems that graduates are choosing to go tackle. You want genuine interest, and if something as complex and thorny as "climate change" doesn't have enough people tackling it, maybe it needs someone to break it up into more interesting and fungible pieces for your average career-bound grad to tackle.

Not to mention that a lot of students are dissauded from picking the high risk high reward jobs because their motivation is to get a hand around that massive pile of debt they've accrued. Their obligation to pay doesn't disappear just because they choose to take on the big challenges.

17
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

Hi Madeline, I commend you for writing this article. I graduated undergrad in 2011 and I have to say that I shared your sentiment: I felt very lost while at MIT, did not see the change-making attitude I came to MIT for, and found some people's aspiration for money and fame depressing. Additionally, I was so lost in my senior year not knowing what career to get into that it almost caused me psychological issues (to which the dysfunctional psychs at MIT medical obviously decided medication was to be prescribed until I told them to leave me alone)

There seems to be a lot of ink in the previous comments about respecting people having different values and career aspirations and how not everybody has the luxury of time and savings to find that meaningful job we are looking for. All of these are true - however I think Madeline's point is that statisitcally more people graduating from MIT have the capacity and opportunity to find a job that pays enough (I got offers to work as a database admin, or to be a teacher my senior year), then statistically the MIT body should spend more time having an on-going conversation about how to make a difference: I say that because I found surprisingly few places on campus that actually takes time to discuss such issues openly enough.

In this sense, I found MIT's resources to discuss how to make the world a better place surprisingly hard to find. And I looked far and deep: I took econ classes at MIT and J-Pal's classes were great but even then, they are so contrived for resources that the professors barely have time to actually have office hours. The class discussions were pretty bare I found few people to be actually open enough to talk about it. Even D-Lab, one of the best places I have found for such dicussions has been very disappointing: in the end, D-Lab feels more like a feel-good program that serves little to make people's lives better: most D-Lab projects have failed miserably in the long-term. Engineering and science courses were a total fiasco: it was all about how can you make this engine faster or how can you make this reaction's yield better - there was never a discussion of why should I make this engine faster? How does that actually improve the world? Whenever I tried to spark such discussions, people looked at me wide-eyed and went back to their mechanical solving of equations.

[continued]

18
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

[continued]

In general, I have been very disappointed with MIT's actual encouragement of a conversation of how to make the world better. I found surprisingly little introspection and discussion of such important topics.

Sure I know how to program and how to solve differential equations in my head, but I still struggle to find my place in society and I have no more clue of how I am going to make a difference. I am more definitely more lost than when I came to MIT but, in some strange ways, I now feel better about it because I know most people are also very lost. It's just that they gave up or don't care.

I used the term "statistically" because there are definitely people who cannot find jobs or need high-paying jobs to help their family or to pay off loans etc. I don't want this segment of the population to be the red herring of this constructive discussion.

19
Yan Zhu almost 5 years ago

This article is nearly irrelevant if you are in the worst-case financial scenario for an MIT grad (ex: grad student at a public university with 60k in student debt and family members to support), so let's look at the average case:

From http://web.mit.edu/.../financial_aid_background.html: "41 of undergraduates have student loan debt at graduation, and the average debt at graduation is $17,900." It's not clear if the average is taken over all students, or just the students who have nonzero debt. I'll assume the latter.

According to http://web.mit.edu/facts/alum.html, the average starting salary for an MIT bachelor's grad in industry was $66,874 ($90,786 for mEng's).

$66,8744 - $17,900 $48,974. Which means that the average MIT grad working in industry can pay off the MIT debt in one year and still have a comfortable single-person salary in almost any part of the US. (It doesn't actually cost more than 30-35k/year at most to live reasonably in the Bay Area, even.)

20
Clearly you're not course 6 almost 5 years ago

Looks like someone didn't get a job from the career fair...

21
Janet Li almost 5 years ago

You are not the only one to observe this 'brain drain', the large proportion of extremely capable MIT graduates drawn to high-paying jobs in the finance industry or other profit-driven corporate industries which are not motivated by any social good. This trend is already known to be a problem at many other top tier schools with highly intelligent graduates, which faculty and administrators who believe in the duty of public service are trying to address. See http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/21/out-of-harvard-and-into-finance/ and http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/23/education/23careers.html.

There is information online about the career choices of our most recent graduates: http://web.mit.edu/facts/alum.html. The top employer for both bachelor's and master's graduates in 2012 was Oracle. Whether developing organizational or revenue-generating enterprise software for other companies is the best way an MIT student can make a positive impact on the world is debatable.

22
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/31/join-wall-street-save-the-world/

23
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

This writer seriously needs to leave her entitlement behind.

"Oh look at me, I'm special, I deserve to work on and solve the problems of the world, I'm going to make the world such a better place!" The sentiment is admirable but drowned out by the screaming superiority complex.

Madeline, you're not in high school anymore. Believe or not, even though you "care about the environment" and "can make a difference," and yes, even though you go to MIT, you are no more special or distinguishable than hundreds of thousands of other students. There are n number of job positions out there, and mxn students, where m is large, you need to impress them. This is how the real world works - you should have left your entitlement behind after you graduated from high school.

If you don't want to work for an evil corporation or want to deal with the real world, there's a place you can go: graduate school and academia.

24
Yan Zhu almost 5 years ago

What's wrong with entitlement? Aren't all humans entitled to certain unalienable rights, including the pursuit of happiness?

I don't think there's any shame in doing boring, unproductive, or ethically-dubious work for a few years in order to reach early financial stability. But it's all too easy to become overly risk-adverse and end up selling yourself short.

25
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

You know, Yan, if we felt like Madeliene was making a statistical argument about where we are and where we should be, I doubt so many people would feel so maligned by the article. Rather than 'this is the amount we can reasonably contribute to humanity, this is how much we're doing, and here's the difference', what we got was 'I met a self centered person at the activities midway. Career fair is self-centered. MIT is a disappointment.'

26
Stephanie H. Chang almost 5 years ago

I just wanted to chime in that there are places where you can both help the world and not compromise your career development. Unfortunately, many of these companies/nonprofits are small and/or young and require more effort to both find and secure a job at.

I'm a software engineer at Khan Academy - we're a nonprofit that's run like a startup, and we're on a mission to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere. Sal Khan, our founder, actually graduated from MIT and delivered the 2012 MIT commencement speech. We recently translated our entire site to Spanish in an effort to serve the needs of millions of Spanish-speaking users: http://www.khanacademy.org/about/blog/post/61052142503/.

One of our engineers, Marcia Lee, recently wrote a blogpost on why she joined KA: http://missmarcialee.com/2013/09/why-i-joined-khan-academy/

We're hiring smart, driven, people with a growth mindset: https://www.khanacademy.org/careers.

Although we weren't able to make it out to career fair, one of our designers, Marcos (an MIT CS alum), will be giving a tech talk at MIT on 10/16.

Before I joined KA, I worked at Microsoft for 5 months. I was not satisfied with the impact that I was having and the things I was learning, so I spent a fair bit of time thinking about where I wanted to work next before deciding on Khan Academy and applying. Inspired by this opinion piece, I put together this list of companies that I think are doing exciting work to advance humanity:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key0Al7wRHP0eXMydHVEZUlmN2pVdnFaUXVzRWtfaU1YWXc#gid0

LMK if you find it useful (or not)! You can reach me at ststchangg.com.

27
Stephanie H. Chang almost 5 years ago

Er, that's st at stchangg dot com.

28
Stephanie H. Chang almost 5 years ago

Er, strugglebus. List of companies doing good:

http://j.mp/companiesforchange

29
DC almost 5 years ago

W.R.T. the lament about the MIT student who "doesn't care." Even though it sounds bad, isn't this what a "high admissions bar" will yield? High schoolers are sometimes exceptional and outward-thinking, but my belief is that a high schooler who doesn't pay as much attention to the larger world and focuses on school, grades, immediate issues will on average do better and also get in a "good school" with greater probability. Isn't this kind of singular focus on only immediate matters direct result of the firehose that we also pride ourselves on?

This isn't to say that I don't think we should not be aware and not think about larger-scale issues. But I think it's highly understandable if someone does not come into awareness on their own. There is a life after graduation - are still growing, tend to read more about the world at large, and sometimes change their minds.

Career fair is a big deal, but that's because a large fraction of the student body looks for industry jobs. Some people feel like they need to, because of the financial reasons mentioned above. For some, the dream of a stable job is what led them to education in the first place. For grad students, which make up maybe half the student body, there just aren't jobs in academia. What about them?

A large fraction also go to grad and med school, service, and so on. There isn't a single concentrated event for those people - the application process for those are much thinner and personal. But if we did have one, there would still be a very significant group of students going there. I think a relevant question is whether over time the fraction of career-bound people is significantly rising.

I don't really have a conclusion. I think that the current situation is understandable, and on a case-by-case basis pretty much all students have a legitimate reason for their choices. If we're concerned about a larger trend of students not caring, then it's important for those who do care to, on top of all they're doing, to learn to incentivize students to care.

30
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

I'm delighted that the MIT community is finally discussing this issue. We need to have a debate about this on-campus. Hopefully, some student group -- maybe The Forum -- will organize something like this. I could relate to what #17/18 said. I feel lost at MIT too, where the pinnacle of achievement is getting an internship/job in finance or consulting.

And LOL at people saying working for the greater good screams of selfishness and superiority. As opposed to working on Wall St. which is obviously less selfish, less self-entitled and does better for the world.

31
Becky almost 5 years ago

I find that most of the negative comments see to be very nitpicky but look at the big picture. It is so refreshing to finally hear people talking about really making a difference and investing their efforts into making the world a better place! MIT needs to lead in more than just start-ups and growing the economy, MIT needs to lead making the world a better place to live for everyone. Thank you to those who are taking their time to do that! And for those that are looking for that, find student groups like Amnesty International, Fossil Free MIT, Global Zero at MIT, etc.

32
Anonymous almost 5 years ago

Entitlement alert. Give it a few years, freshman.

33
awm almost 5 years ago

No one says you can't keep your dreams and also work for money. Ideally, we'd want to aim towards finding a place where you can fulfill your goals while keeping yourself financially stable. But if you can't, then multi-task. You're capable, you can figure a way out to "save the world" and also "save yourself" too. Why should you (or I) care what other people say about your life decisions to keep yourself financially stable? If you've acquired that ability to work at a bank or other "major companies" and also were able to find the time to do some crazy research that helps the world, then isn't that something we'll all admire in the end? Similarly, it may not be the entire humanity, but managing to find a way to help improve the way a company runs, is still, helping the society. This isn't to say that just purely focusing on helping the survival of humanity isn't a good thing. It's just that there are many ways to do good for some select amount of a lot of people.

About the entitlement stuff, I won't say completely get rid of the pompousness. We all think or thought, somewhere deep inside, that we've gone through or are going through something probably a lot more rigorous than what most of the people in the world are going through. It's okay. If that's what it takes to get your p-sets and labs done, then so be it. But just remember that you're going through something rigorous in a very specific field and that there are countless things out there that are way harder than that for you. Take it to the extremes, like living in the Kalahari desert where you need to walk several tens of miles a day to feed not only yourself but 50 other people in your clan. Does it take skill and knowledge? You bet it does, otherwise you die from getting torn apart by lions. There's that and also solving p-set from another course you're not majoring in.

What is a "big issue", really? Yes, global warming is an issue that could potentially ruin the planet and kill us all. But honestly, if I can't support myself financially, or if my child has a bad fever, that "big issue" is not a big issue anymore.

Maybe not for studying purpose, but for taking in a completely different view of the world from other people, try applying for an internship. It may sound like a joke, but I'm serious.

Also, thanks for letting me think about this.

-AWM MIT '12