Dear graduating seniors, don't settle for the Big Four. The intersection of passion and profession does exist.

If there’s one message we can give to graduating seniors about their next move, it’s, “Don’t freak out. Take your time. You don’t have to settle for a job that doesn’t feel right.” If you’re a senior, definitely read Kailey Raymond's story below. It will give you some peace of mind, and help you avoid becoming that daydreamer at your new job in the next few months.  

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My story begins during the fall semester of my senior year. Coming back to school, everything was great, friends reunited for one final year in the wonderland that we like to call college, perfect. Well, everything was perfect except one minor detail- real life was looming. In May, my life would go through some fundamental changes. I would be expected to pay all of my own bills, hold a good job, and become a productive member of society. Soon, I would be amongst them, the young professionals, and I would have real responsibility for the first time. And to be honest, I was scared. 

You see, a lot of my friends had come back from the summer, already having job offers from their internships at banks and Big Fours. And what’s worse, in the competitive environment at my college, you couldn’t take a breath without someone asking you where you were working or who you were interviewing with in the Fall. J-O-B-S: it truly became a four-letter word for me. Signing bonuses and benefits, salaries and health care- these were the things that started to worry me. I couldn’t log into my computer without searching a job board- did I want to be a management consultant, an analyst at an investment firm, or an inside sales rep? I just don’t know, the choices are overwhelming!

But more terrifying than real life is not knowing- what you want to do, where you want to live, who you want to be- when you graduate. I was in my fourth year at college, by that time you were supposed to know what you wanted to do with your life. You should have it all figured out by then, right? Sure, I thought I knew what I wanted. All of my friends were going to be consultants and analysts. I thought to myself, “Sure, I could definitely do that, seems interesting enough.” Actually, to be honest, I didn’t really know that any other career opportunities existed outside of these traditional roles with well-established firms. The only jobs my career services had ever posted or promoted were either with huge corporations, and the occasional teaching opportunity. So, I did what any good student would do, and I gave it the old college try. I applied, interviewed, networked and schmoozed. 

And I began hating every minute of it. Why was I not connecting with any of these people? Why was I never excited after I finished an interview? Spring came and it was more of the same, applications, cover letters, interviews, one after the other. But I still had this feeling that can be described in no other way besides “Ugh.”

But something was different about this semester. For some reason, even though I was still searching for the right career and graduation was rapidly approaching, I wasn’t worried. What had changed? The answer is simple; I began doing something that I love and I found something that I am passionate about- startups, entrepreneurship, and more specifically, I was introduced to a program called Startup Institute.

Now, as scared as I was to become a real person, without a shadow of a doubt, leaving the safety net of your college network and choosing a path that none of my friends or family had followed or even understood, was more terrifying. What are you doing in Boston? Who are the people running the program? Don’t startups fail, like 99% of the time? I could give you a million questions I was asked when I chose to spend my summer at Startup Institute Boston. But for me, I didn’t think about the million ways I could fail, but rather the one way I could succeed. By leaping; by forgetting what my university’s career services had spoon-fed me for four years, by finding something that I was excited about, and people who were just as eager, driven, and passionate as I was.

For me, moving to Boston without ever having been here before, trusting in this program that was in its infancy, and ultimately deciding to stay in Boston and work alongside the founders of Startup Institute to help build it; now that was a leap of faith. And I am so thankful that I took it.

So if you’re stuck in a job you don’t enjoy or are sitting in class wondering why you’re not as excited as your friends about working for a 10,000+ person company, know that there’s an amazing alternative out there. A career opportunity at a startup allows you to take ownership of your work and create value beginning on day one. If there was one lesson that I learned above all others while at SIB it is that the intersection where profession and passion meet does exist, you just have to find it.

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Kailey is Program Manager at Startup Institute. She is responsible for building relationships with partners of Startup Institute Boston. She enjoys connecting the most innovative companies in Boston with the amazing talent pool at SIB. Leading the charge on student engagement both inside and outside of the program to promote the unique SIB culture, Kailey ensures that students become integral members of the Boston startup community and tech ecosystem.

Apply to Startup Institute in New York and Boston. Summer session starts in June. The sooner you apply the better your chances of getting in.