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Muddy White Collars

This is dedicated to every student out there, preparing to set foot into the big bubble of white collars. This is my experience of the corporate world.

Ever since I started college, I have been looking forward to being a ‘working woman’. The suits, the desks, the paycheck … all of this makes it look so glitz and glam. I grew up watching my father enjoy the perks of it all. But little did I know of the grind.

And there I was on 12 June 2023, in my neatly-ironed shirt, trousers, laptop in hand, and close to zero expectations. I walked into the office, and the image of a large, noisy office was replaced by a minimal set-up.

My first few days are a blur. I felt alien and stupid. The feeling of incompetency is so hurtful to a young person trying to survive in a new environment doing their best. The purpose of this internship was to be exposed to the corporate world, and boy, was I exposed. Every day, I saw new challenges. It was like jumping hurdles in a race with no visible finish line. I could not see the end!

The straw that broke the camel’s back was one day that I remember so vividly. I walked into the office with my first project completed. But the feedback I received was not even close to what I expected. It felt like I was back to day one — lost, confused. I wanted to run home as I had been away for over six months and I could not bear this environment anymore. I left early that day.

I’m not proud of what I did, but all I knew was that I needed to feel safe that day because I had hit rock bottom. From that day onwards, I set a new goal and priority. As an engineering student who had just completed second year, I decided to go back to my purpose and remind myself to be a student. My priority was college deadlines, following instructions from my professor and finishing this evaluated internship to the best of my ability.

This reminded me of the strength within — the little voice in your head — the voice that matters most. Your own thoughts, views, opinions, feelings — they’re the most valuable part of your conscience and will remain as long as you live.

Today, as I sit here at my desk for the last time, I feel okay. But most importantly, I feel ready to move on, which is not a bad thing. I feel accomplished that I have fulfilled my purpose in the past two months and survived it physically and mentally. I have completed a long list of firsts and an even longer list of learnings worth introspecting.

During the course, I felt emotions that I could not describe and that nobody seemed to understand. I felt lonely and isolated, but it also re-taught me how to survive alone. Having supportive family and friends gives you a sense of comfort. But what happens when they are away from you, and most importantly not on the same wavelength as you? This reminded me of the strength within — the little voice in your head — the voice that matters most. Your own thoughts, views, opinions, feelings — they’re the most valuable part of your conscience and will remain as long as you live.

This was my experience and yours may be different. It reminded me of how much I love studying biotechnology. My academic mind was in denial of this love, after it got blinded by the universally-set route of attaining degrees to get jobs and earn money. I feel blessed to have gotten this opportunity that reminded me of my purpose, my aptitude, my joy.

One day, I may look back and disagree with my current opinions. But for now, this is me signing off from a desk job and getting back to my books, microscopes and bacterial cultures for as long as life allows.

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Tvisha Sethi is a student of BITS Pilani Dubai Campus, Gurugram/Dubai.

Tvisha Sethi

Tvisha Sethi is a student of BITS Pilani Dubai Campus, Gurugram/Dubai.