Sadly, my life after college is not what I expected. Another day at the office, another day where no aspect of my work excites me or ignites any glimmer of passion.
I work for a Fortune500 company, and landed an enviable position immediately upon graduation, a position that was offered to me my very first day of senior year. As is
characteristic of my work ethic, I still continued to pour my passion into my classes senior year, and challenged myself by taking 18 credits both semesters.
I love to learn, and I wanted to soak in as much high quality education as possible during my undergraduate career. I went to Boston College, and studied Operations Management at the Carroll School with a second major in Political Science. It was the Human Rights classes, the political science professors, the polisci students passionate about changing the world that inspired me to live up to the university’s mantra to “set the world aflame.”
Yet, I accepted an offer working in Corporate finance. And despite this position that offered things such as “competitive salary, exposure to senior leadership, blah blah blah “I don’t think I’ve set anything aflame. I don’t think I’ve managed to live up to the BC mantra at all, despite my desperation to do so.
So you may be wondering why I accepted my current position. After all, I knew there was a slim chance I would fit in with the corporate world. Those soul-sucking aspects of corporate finance are not a secret. I can answer this question with a weak comment such as, “I needed the financial stability,” or “there are plenty of travel opportunities
in such a global company,” But the true and authentic reason is a deep fear of following an unknown path. Not accepting a lucrative, clear cut career when so many of my counterparts in this country are leaving school with no job offers and shackled with upwards of $100k in debt, seemed highly irresponsible.
So here I am, living and breathing in an environment where everyone is squeezed into the uniform of “business casual,” which is basically the equivalent of the overly preppy, formerly popular all-start athlete, sorority sister, or the like. If you haven’t seen this uniform it is something like this for women–neutral colors, stiff shapeless navy blue or
black dresses, made fashionable by a very particular amount of jewelry. For example, if you’re wearing earrings that stand out, don’t also wear a statement necklace. Try to limit yourself to one bracelet, as you wouldn’t want to attract too much attention to your wrists while gesturing during a presentation. Look pretty, but don’t stand out too much.
Spend $75 on a bi-weekly manicure so you can leave the salon with just a shade different than your natural nail color–baby pink, nude, or french. Spend 45 minutes doing your makeup in the morning only to look as if you have nothing on, aka the all natural look.
Follow these guidelines because there is no room at the office for the smokey eye, or the glamorous red lip, or god forbid a little volume to your hair. You are never supposed to exude any sexual attractiveness as this might hinder your reputation amongst the men you work with, yet you’re never held equal to a man. You are someone who should take up as little space as possible in the conference room, with your legs crossed and hands folded in your lap. You are the helper, the second-in-command, the supporter, but never the leader. In a company where at the Corporate CEO is retiring, and at least 2 divisional CEOs are retiring, there is not one woman in the running to take over these positions.
As I continue to build a career here, the same question appears in my mind every day, and hangs over my head like a rain cloud. Why am I here? After two years of struggling to fit into a uniform that is two sizes too tight and squeezing out any sense of individuality in my appearance, why am I still here? It is as if I have locked myself in a cage, and I have the key to release myself, but I never use it. I constantly look at the key, examine the key, and think about the key, but as of now, the door remains closed.