We take on debt because of the promise of upward mobility and attend expensive private colleges to gain edge.
When we get there, we meet students who have been bouncing from one enrichment program to the next and taking advantage of every summer opportunity. They’ve traveled around the world and developed a sexy skill set.
If it’s worth nothing more, they’ve got the advantage at awkward networking parties. They’ve always made small talk with fancy people, whether while answering phones for a high-powered attorney their dad became friends with on a transatlantic flight, or sitting around their own dinner table.
Class issues aren’t new, though access to education for middle-class families is. Working kids go to private schools and learn to run faster.
If you can’t afford not to have an internship, and you can’t afford not to have a job, you do both – and the stakes are high on either end because if either operation fails you are left in the lurch with no safety net.
The technical term for this in my family is “building character,” and it’s filed alongside stories about walking to school uphill, both ways.
In the fundamental first several years out of college many young people are forced to decide whether it is possible to pursue their dreams or not. Unfortunately, if there’s no family money to keep you afloat, you are forced to take jobs miles away from your desired path. College passions become foolish ideals and the class system wins.
I was grateful to have the support of college funding to make my internship possible.
I can remember working at high noon in Patagonia, Ariz., on the border of Mexico at a seed conservation farm. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I was hoeing beans. I was an unpaid intern, and I cared about my job.