On the Pursuit of Passion

Olivia Nelson

During the spring semester of my sophomore year, I decided to try my hand at on campus recruiting (OCR). Although OCR is typically for second-semester juniors, I wanted to take the opportunity to get familiar with the process early on as well as find out about the internship opportunities available for sophomores.

I learned as I went, figuring out résumé drops and the process for signing up for interview slots. However, it didn’t take long to realize that most of the roles were in finance. As someone with an intended marketing concentration, this made me a little hesitant to apply for the internships offered. However, I figured that an internship opportunity in finance could be interesting and very didactic, so I decided to try my hand at applying for those roles. Eventually, I was granted a couple interview offers, much to my surprise.

Fast forward to the middle of the semester and I was interviewing for a global investment banking firm. The company seemed to like me, and as I moved along further in the recruitment process, I became more and more invested in the opportunity to secure the internship. But, to be honest, I realized that I wanted the position because of the esteem behind the company name and because I felt as though I had to find an opportunity in finance—not because it was what I wanted to do. Furthermore, I unfortunately felt as though I was giving up on marketing, which I saw as my true passion.

Ultimately, I did not end up with a finance internship. Although I know I would have learned a lot, I honestly do feel as though I was spared a summer of anxiety and stress, stemming from the fact that I was not truly passionate about finance.

Among students, the phrase “the funnel” is often thrown around when discussing future career paths of Wharton graduates. The funnel refers to the “sure-fire” path that many students will end up choosing, leading them to a career in either investment banking or consulting. Although both are great fields, especially for students who are genuinely interested in them, the funnel emphasizes a lack of diversity in the jobs that many Wharton students end up having.

With that in mind, I was extremely happy this year (my junior year) when I committed to following my passion. As a junior (for which most internships are geared), I have realized that there are countless opportunities in marketing, and likewise, in any other industry that a Wharton student might be interested. I felt as though the sky was the limit. I am so grateful to have experienced the astonishing difference between recruiting for a position you are passionate about versus one that you feel like you have to get because it is what most other students do.

Finally, I would advise my peers to go after the chance to do what you love. Although most of us have long careers ahead, in which there will be both big and small changes, it is important to pursue opportunities that align with our interests. It is not as important to follow the crowd or do what others are doing for the sake of following a pre-determined path, but having the courage to go after what truly makes you happy.

Hi everyone! My name is Olivia Nelson, and I am from Scotch Plains, NJ. I am a member of the Class of 2017 in Wharton, concentrating in Marketing and Finance. Aside from Wharton Ambassadors, I am a member of SPEC Concerts, SPEC-TRUM, the John Marshall Pre-Law Honor Society, Penn Colleges Against Cancer/Relay for Life, and the Joseph Wharton and Benjamin Franklin Scholars Programs. My goal is to go onto law school after college, and become a corporate lawyer. I enjoy traveling, going to concerts, and spending time with family and friends! If you have a question about Penn or Wharton, you can contact me or another student ambassador via our Ask an Ambassador form.