Urging realism in career goals


When I arrived at the College of William and Mary last year for freshman orientation, I was astonished by the sheer number of students that expressed interest in pursuing majors in government or international relations. For a brief period, I was one of them myself. In high school, I was student council president, participated actively in Model United Nations, and casually canvassed for a couple political campaigns. Those passions lent themselves well to studying government or international relations, so I eagerly signed up for Introduction to International Politics for the fall semester.

Two semesters later, I have no complaints with the government department. On the contrary, I have thoroughly enjoyed both Introduction to International Politics and Introduction to Comparative Politics and genuinely believe that the College’s government professors are among the more talented individuals in our undergraduate faculty. Most of the government majors I’ve met here are passionate, driven and devoted to meaningful change.

However, I am consistently frustrated by a minority of government students who refuse to let their supposed political prowess go unnoticed. On multiple occasions, I have overheard conversations where freshman government students at the College eagerly declare their interest in serving in the U.S. Senate. Some are confident that they’ll be selected as ambassadors, while others proclaim their future run for the presidency and speak ad nauseum about becoming the commander in chief.

As someone who deeply fears not getting a job after graduation, I feel these students speak about their careers with an uncomfortably high level of certainty considering they have yet to graduate and have made only incremental progress toward the completion of their majors. To put it gently, it is statistically improbable for every government student here to become a congressional representative. Becoming an ambassador for the State Department is an rare privilege. We live in a competitive and unpredictable world, where nothing is professionally guaranteed.

Having long-term professional goals is important, and I love that people at the College have such enthusiastic aspirations. Setting high goals is something we should all strive for. However, declaring your upcoming run for the presidency or expressing your earnest intention to serve in the nation’s highest legislative body is presumptuous and self-aggrandizing. Maybe you can disregard my opinion entirely and become a misogynist real estate mogul with a god-awful reality television show. Knowing this country, it’ll probably get you elected.

Email Ethan Brown at ewbrown@email.wm.edu.


  1. Is this news-worthy? Thanks for the chuckle, but this seems like a sign that our student newspaper is struggling to find content.


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