‘LSE students appear to hold the City in an almost Pontiff-like reverence’

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I have a confession to make; I hate wearing suits. In all honesty they make me feel more like a toddler at a wedding than anything remotely related to work.

But I digress, the matter at hand is not the outfit itself but rather what it represents, particularly in the student culture of our very own institution.

Even a simple glance through the pages of The Beaver will reveal some article or other concerning the City or career aspects relating to it. While these articles were in no way devoid of effective journalism, the culture they highlight is one I find concerning, especially for the fresher’s amongst us.

For those who may not dream of a Goldman Sachs internship or conquering Canary Wharf single-handed, what is presented upon joining the student body (besides the odd scandal, obviously) could be mistaken for a careers fair in itself.

The students of the LSE would appear to hold the City in an almost Pontiff-like reverence; it is the solver of all post-graduation anxieties, the remedy to all financial worries….provided you can fill out tens of applications every year and pass online testing of course!

Our union has entire societies dedicated to the sole purpose of connecting students to industries or (without naming names) adding nice little important sounding committee positions to the CV of any budding City worker.

In all honesty, aren’t university societies supposed to alleviate the stress and strain of study, rather than add to it by constantly bombarding you with emails and promotions for the ‘next big career/networking event hosted by [generic company in the City] taking place in [important London location] on [whatever date you will attend regardless because hey, you want a job in the City right]’?

The last thing a fresher needs while having to cope with the combined ailments of adjusting to university life, and freshers flu hangovers is to have career options and networking events shoved in their faces by the very bodies that are supposedly created to draw their mind away from such things (at the time of writing, I’ve already received at least five invitations for career related events on social media from societies that are not directly connected to the relevant industries).

We are all intelligent people, we do not need every facet of our university, especially other students, creating a subliminal competition for career opportunities that many of us do not want or need to participate in. It is at best patronising and at worst insulting.

This leads me to the crux of the matter, for those like myself who do not hold a City career as our prime life direction, this culture serves to generate an attitude of cynicism towards our university and our fellow students who participate in it.

We begin to believe that we are somehow lesser beings for not ‘falling in line’ with the militant careerism that exists around us. This does nothing but make us less confident in our own desires, stifling our preparedness to admit that we may choose a different path to that seemingly set out for us. It seems ironic that within a university, institutions founded upon principles including the individual pursuit of knowledge, a student culture exists that serves to represses independent career paths beyond several sectors.

All of this results in a new student culture, one you may call ‘underground’, of disillusioned individuals who feel somewhat disheartened and ashamed of their own interests and aspirations.

Yes, I did come to LSE with a desire to improve my career prospects, but a much greater part of me came to expand my knowledge of the world through an amazing institution with a community like no other.

I do not believe I should sacrifice my own desires simply because this culture, forced into my face since day one, has hijacked the career trajectories of so many others. I come to university to enjoy my last vestiges of freedom as a young adult, not to consume it by meticulously planning for the next thirty years of my life.

For those who do proceed along the career path towards the City, I hope your intentions are founded in genuine interest.

If so, I wish you the best of luck. For those in a less concrete frame of mind, I only offer a quote; ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life’.

I don’t know about you, but that seems like a better philosophy than ‘invest in a nice suit’.


Calum Muirhead