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给,还没有毕业的你们:(My College Experience in the US)

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN 2.5 years ago, 2 weeks after I relocated to New York from New Haven, originally posted on CUUS (Chinese Undergraduates at United States). I decided to re-post this as I have been bombed by a series of questions on job hunting and life philosophies especially from Chinese students recently; and I realized a lot of examples and thoughts I laid out in this article are still very much applicable to people still at college or just gradated.

I know it’s a long one, and it’s in Chinese, but this is among one of the most precious, profound, informative, yet personal articles I have ever written in my life. So enjoy.

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(首发于CUUS & deniseyezi 个人博客, 转载请注明作者出处)

看了茶茶最近的帖子,有很多感触和启发,也有些许的惭愧。CUUS曾经是我大学生活中的重头戏,在这里应该记载了我的很多快乐,感伤,幸福,以及迷茫。然而我还没有来得及庆祝我的成长,或者还没来得及再宣告原来我依然是一个什么都不懂得孩子,一转眼,就毕业了。

毕业后来到纽约已经近两周了,仿佛这辈子也没有连续两周可以这样清闲而懒散。没有什么需要马上plan,没有什么deadline, 这样的梦幻般的生活却仿佛一下子不习惯。纽约已经燥热了3天,今天晚上一场大雨过后,终于凉快下来。这样的夜,我想,正适合写字。

仅希望——这些我毕业后才终于懂了的事情,你们毕业前就了解吧。

其实我只是想回答一个很简单的问题:在美国的大学四年,我们到底应该做些什么?或者那些看似平常的小事,我们应该怎么做?

以下的一些个人想法和经历,主要是讲几个故事,仅供参考。

 

  • 关于人生观价值观要感恩要控制

最近我遇到一位长得一表人才,家庭条件非常好的移民,IVY league的PhD +MBA, 据他本人说是开过法拉利,乘过私人飞机,交过super model做女朋友。可是认识没几天他突然抱怨,我觉得生活没有意义了,我不知道我到底想做什么,没有什么事情让我感到excited,我觉得我没有任何朋友。。。等等。我就傻了。当然我尽力安慰他,可是我在心里说:你不知道比多少多少人幸运呢!我想不明白他为什么没有感恩的心情,为什么不能对已有的知足。

他又说,他现在仿佛在人生的十字路口,cannot figure out life. 我就又傻了。我觉得大学四年,我是幼稚过,迷茫过,犯过错误,可是那些我本来想不清楚的问题,现在已经很清楚了。那些不清楚的问题,我也知道应该如何去想清楚了。当然你不可能把所有的事情都figure out, 但是这四年绝对是人生观价值观定型的时期。没有人会喜欢一个动不动的抱怨,没有什么目标理想,不能积极,感恩的去看待身边的人和事的人。人对人的影响真的是近朱者赤,近墨者黑。就仿佛smile is contagious一样,so is depression. 我的mentor 告诉我,stay away from these people. 我觉得真得很对。

除了人生观的积极调整,还有一点就是一定要学会控制情绪。压力会有的,挫折会有的,失恋会有的,欠债会有的,什么问题都是有可能的。你的电脑crash了,男朋友cheated on you, 考试那天竟然没听到闹表,税单过期的,图书馆欠费了。所有不是问题的问题,常常一下子一起来了,你就崩溃了。

不能崩溃。

If you have a problem, fix the problem. If you have two, fix two.

As simple as that.

  • 关于性格要坚持要坚强

很多事情其实都是,只差一步就好了。成功的人就是坚持到了最后那一步。我想起我大四上学期做面试的经历。那学期真的是除了面试跟正常的上课学习以外,什么都没做。去年market并不好,大家都知道。相比很多大三在纽约香港实习的同学,我在北京PwC的经历在resume上只能说是很一般。看到有些已经从 summer intern拿到offer 的同学,整个大四可以轻松了,我也是羡慕的。

可是我能怎么办,我只能想尽一切办法为自己争取面试机会。我对自己的面试还是有信心的。所以我去参加所有的information session, case workshop, coffee chats, alumni networking events, career fairs…我几乎没有申请投行,我知道自己不适合更不想,我只申请了consulting firm, and marketing positions in finance, 我没有申请中国大陆或者香港,我甚至没有申请除了纽约跟Boston的其他所有position. 我想我是头一次如此破釜沉舟吧。

庆幸的是,我拿到了比我预想要多的第一轮面试,几乎所有我拿到第一轮面试的,我都挺进了第二或者第三轮(final round)面试。在那几周里,我奔走于undergraduate career service, Omni Hotel, Union Station, Boston South Station, Grand Central,我是兴奋的,我还信心满满的给父母打电话,认为这么多选择我一定会拿到几个offer的。

然而只有一家Boston的公司决定要我,后来却竟然发现他们do not sponsor visa. 而我最喜欢也最有希望的Oliver Wyman 的第三轮面试,我们5个耶鲁的学生却和10几个Wharton的学生撞车,最后只有1个耶鲁的学生当天拿到offer. 在我在回程的火车上,我终于忍不住哭泣:为什么有些人仿佛什么都不用做就轻而易举地得到了一切?而为什么我如此努力,却依然两手空空?

虽然我哭了,可是我没有一秒钟想过放弃。我打电话给家里的时候,一直是乐观的,我说我能行,我说我已经坚持到这里了,就不能回头了,我相信一定会有公司选择我的。

后来我去参加了Boston的Bilingual Career Fair, 诺大的会场无数家company 在寻觅去日本的,香港的,新加坡的,可是很少很少有纽约的。可是我一家一家的问了下去。后来终于遇到了BlackRock的 International Team的Scott, 他们纽约也在录人。当时我也只是进行了一半英语一半日语的interview, 留下了简历。然后几天过后,他们就给我特别安排了一个additional的super day名额,而且不需要我讲日语,因为他们的亚洲部正在往中国大陆发展,所以they need a native Chinese speaker! 后来我就有了我最舒心的on-site interview经历,然后在大四上学期我考最后一门考试的同时,收到了电话留言:我被录取了。

Takeaways from this part after the repost: It was hard to get a job in the past couple of years given the market. I know people from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, etc, could not get a job, or got laid off just a few months-1 year into it. The name of your college means a lot, but it does not define who you are. Going to an Ivy league school does not guarantee you are a good person; going to an Ivy school does not promise you a prestigious job. And a job offer is not and should not be the only thing you can put on the table. You may be lucky for once, for twice, for the moment, but you will not be lucky for your entire life. You simply have to work hard, have a positive attitude, and earn your way step by step.

大学四年,经历了种种磨练,肩膀真的能扛事情了。在大学四年里,我的不少朋友,包括我自己,都是第一次面对亲人的离去,第一次离家这么远,第一次自己赚钱,第一次发现自己致命的弱点,第一次发现自己的白头发,第一次发现原来小学同学已经结婚了,自己还要孤军奋战。我想我们每个人都有一条不一样的路吧。对发生在我自己身上的悲伤,我依然感恩。对那些发生在别人身上的幸福,我只会祝福。

  • 关于身边的人知己知彼

很多人问我关于与交美国朋友的问题。我曾经以为如果不像美国人一样满桌子化妆品或者成天party,你就不可能真正融入美国的大学圈子。某种程度上确实是这样,我大一大二的时候既没有跟她们在common room里面讨论sex and the city,也没有周三周四就用两三个小时梳妆打扮的去party. 所以我确实美国朋友交得很有限。而大三大四的时候我终于放轻松了一些,sexand the city成了我的favorite, 我也能时不时地去party而且偶尔还能引发小小的惊艳。朋友们说我变得更自信了,而其实我知道我只是更了解自己了,也更了解美国人了。

美国人其实给彼此很多的空间,这是起码的相互尊重。我曾经不敢去party的原因之一就是我害怕那些美国男生。而后来我才明白,去party的第一原则就是知道自己想要什么。你自己不想要的,没有人可以强迫你。也没有人会去强迫你。美国的餐桌上从来不会像中国人有劝酒这一说,所以该说no的时候就说no. 说完了no, the point will be well taken. So no worries.

对于party还有两点要说的就是:没有人要求你必须参加party. 我有个朋友就从来没有参加过party, 但是她非常smart, 人很nice, 很helpful,仅仅是不太social, 不过认识她的美国朋友提到她,都会说I have a lot of respect for this girl. 另外一点是,适当的party绝对是有利于交朋友的。我某学期上了一门seminar, 教授很严厉班上气氛有些紧张,同学彼此之间不太说话也没什么了解。后来偶然在一次party上遇到班上的那对twins, 他们竟然记得我的名字,而我也终于学会了从他们的发型上分辨who’swho. 而且他们还都是篮球队的,他们的主力中锋又正好住在我对面,所以一下子有了很多connection,就很熟悉起来。后来我还被特别邀请去了他们的 house party,说实话是可以满足一下ego的。

归根到底,其实交朋友很简单,the more you reach out to other people, the more other people will reach out to you. 不过也请选择自己交往的对象。Social还是很花费时间精力的。我庆幸我并没有在大学的开始就疯狂的party,我的进化是循序渐进的,这样我自己最能接受,所以这样应该是最好的。

交友问题我还想特别提一句,不要忘了你的高中同学。我们本科出了国,他们上了国内的一流大学。以后大家大学毕业可能直接工作了,而他们很多会出国读研,我的高中同学就一大帮一大帮的来了,想来其实是很温暖的事情。

  • 关于学习我们不同的只是选择

我们是Chinese students at the United States, 所以我们都很smart.(这句话是不是真的不重要,重要的是你要相信你很smart)关于学习,我一直认为是因人而异的事情,但是四年下来,我还是有一些想说的。

怎么选课的问题。不是有名的就好(有名的教授你知道他有名就可以了,至于你喜不喜欢是另一码事),也不是美国学生评论好的就好(我是不止一次的见识过美国学生认为简单得要死的课,我会搞得焦头烂额)最主要的是!要看WorkLoad要在workload和自己的能力之间找到平衡.如果你对自己写大 paper没有信心,就不要大二就着急非要去上有很多writing 的课。当然你的skill绝对会build up的。我大四最后一学期选了我这四年最多的课程,但是因为我终于知道自己到底对什么感兴趣,而且成功把握了workload, 反而成绩是这四年里最好的一学期。

实话是,我对自己都感到有些吃惊。在开学的时候,我知道自己给自己订了三个目标:Grades, Social and Workout. 我不仅做到了一,而且我认识了很多按照我头三年的生活状态完全不可能认识的人,同时我在gym参加了Yoga, Cardio Combo, Pilates, hiphop, and NIA (a combination of almost everything) 的诸多课程。所以我觉得每学期都应该有一个适合于这学期的计划。比如我大四上学期的计划就是 Get a job. And I did get it done.

有时候我也想,如果我要是以前由现在这种心态和能力,就不用曾经手忙脚乱了。可是我知道正是因为我曾经手忙脚乱过,我现在才能有这种心态和能力。所以我没有任何后悔。

当然,在学习与学习以外总有一个trade off的。毕业典礼上每年都有这样的人,你可能四年都从来没有见过他或者听说过他。但是他却会以38门课35门straight A 另外3门是A-的纪录登上最高学术荣誉的领奖台。如果那个是你所憧憬的,那就坚持努力再努力,也不要管什么别人在玩。说到底,这是你自己的选择。很多时候我们没得选,所以能选的时候,就别让自己后悔。

  • 关于Have fun—要会玩要玩好

Party 前面我已经讲过了。我这里想提一下American TV. 我大四下学期在craigslist上买了个电视,后来再搬家太沉了就丢掉了。因为本来就很便宜也不觉得可惜,而且这半年让我长了很多见识。除了新闻,或者看看Presidential Campaign之类,我主要看三类节目,选秀节目,reality show and talk show. (只知道friends, sex and the city, prison break, lost 是不够的)

我专门写过一篇blog 写American’s Next Top Model, 还讲了这类选秀节目跟中国超女等等的区别。你会看到很多drama,很多conflict, 很多character. 如果不看这个,我也不会结识第八集的那位耶鲁女孩,第一次见她的时候觉得她比电视上好看很多,不过后来就觉得一般了。又听说她revealed some insider’s gossip on Tyra Banks, 我就对这个show有mixed feelings了。不过我依然认为这是非常成功好看的选秀节目。还有比如America’s Best Dance Crew, 看完之后再去看Yale的 RB’s show,就能看懂很多共通的地方。

Reality Show 强烈推荐的就是The Apprentice 和The Survivors. 在Jake Greene的处女书:Whoa, My boss is naked(顺便说一句,对刚工作或者对做intern的人来说,这是一门别出心裁的好书!推荐!)里面就分析总结了选手的不同表现,并和现实生活的职场人物进行了类比。经常看这样的节目就会明白什么样的人会受到队友的攻击,什么样的人会如鱼得水。

美国那么多talkshow, 搞来搞去我最喜欢的还是Ellen’s Show( the Ellen Degeneres Show). Tyra Banks的show太假,其他的late night show我觉得已经没什么新意了。但是Ellen就很好, extremely fun, a great dancer, and always invites the best people. The only shortcoming is that it’s a day-time show. It’s from 4-5pm every weekday. So I can’t watch it every day. But I am glad that I didn’t miss the interviews with Jackie Chen and Beckham. 哦,还有the Colbert Report 也是不错的。不过他那本I am America(and so can you)总让我觉得有些哗众取宠。

看电视呢,可以自己看,也可以跟朋友看。跟朋友一起做的其他事情主要包括sports and trips. 就算不能去小队,在一个小club里面打球也是能交下很多朋友的。另外好好利用spring break, thanksgiving等假期,每次跟不同的圈子的人去trip,然后当然要follow up and keep it going, 你的朋友圈子就会很大了,而且会很bonding.

  • 关于求职让功利心来的晚点吧

有些人总是期待做Chance Encounter,就是期待飞机上坐在你旁边的正好是某家大银行的director之类的美事。这种事情不是没有,不过就算有,也要第一,you need to be proactive and try to initiate a conversation. 第二,once the conversation starts, you need to really know the stuff to land anything for real. 所以,该准备的还是要准备的,什么都不能马虎。

那些真正深思远虑的人,都不会急功近利的。就好像男生追女孩子一样,就算再喜欢人家,也不应该一上来就提出什么要求把别人吓跑的。就好像那些 reality show里面竟然有些人会说:I am not here to make friends, I am here to win. But come on, you need to interact with people all the time, and if you can’t form a healthy relationship first, there is no way you are going to get ahead later. 所以适当敞开心扉吧。在工作上,It’s not about how many people you know, it’s about how many people know you. So, let them know you!

这里推荐几个social networking的website.

Linkedin: (It’s like facebook, but on a professional level) http://www.linkedin.com/

Forte Foundation (for women) http://www.fortefoundation.org/

85 Broads (also for women) https://secure.85broads.com/

  • 关于自己我们真的那么独特么?

刚上大学的时候,我最喜欢说的一句话就是:我是独特的。后来这甚至成为了某种借口。我觉得对自己的认识,其实自己清楚就好了:要知道自己想要什么。就算不知道自己想要的东西,也要知道想要什么生活。大学四年,你通过自己的朋友,老师,自己的成功和失败,必然会更加了解自己的性格,了解自己到底喜欢哪些活动,哪些事情做得好,哪些事情以为自己会做好其实做不好,等等。了解自己,学会放大自己的优点,缩小自己的缺点,多去经历和体验,让人生更完整,永远是硬道理。

我有一个北大的朋友跟我说她上了一门心理课,然后就开始考虑一个问题,为什么有时候聚会热热闹闹的,大家都非常开心,我却突然觉得很孤独空虚呢?我是不是很奇怪啊?我就笑了。所有的人都认为某个问题对自己很独特,而其实很多人都有同样的问题 (比如gay les的现象)。我同样用心理课学到的东西回应她:

You feel it’s only you. Just like if you don’t understand the professor and want to ask a question, you are afraid to ask it in front of everyone because you thought everyone else who don’t raise their hands already know the stuff. But actually many times, they are thinking exactly the same thing! People interpret themselves differently from they understand others. And exactly because of that, we thought our problems are just unique to us, which is totally not true. I have that feeling ALL THE TIME! I always feel, in crowded place, in parties, when everyone’s happy, I suddenly feel remote, lonely and as if…gosh it seems I don’t really have anything to do with them, why am I still here? It’s the same for everyone. Honestly.

也许,说到底,我们真的没有那么大的不同。如果真的有什么不同的话,那仅仅是因为我们的选择。不是有这样一句话么?It is our choice that makes us who we are.

So have faith in yourself, and be wise with your choices. Good luck Cuusers!

敬上

Deniseyezi

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  1. Aaron
    February 2, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    I am so glad that I check cuus today. I learned a lot from this. Thank you and happy new year 🙂
    Just a small question, what do u think a sophomre should do as a engineering major. coz my dream is traveling around the world. it seems no connection between those two.

    • February 4, 2011 at 1:17 am

      I wanted to be an engineer before too, I mean long time ago, not anymore. But I still have the dream of traveling around the world too. Have you ever heard of that if you want to go from A to D, you might need to detour to B and C first? It’s probably hard to get to exactly where you what to get without taking any small steps first. A lot of people want to travel around the world, but either they have no money, or they have no time. And when you do have both the money and the time, you’re probably too old…that’s life though. If you really want to travel, travel already, book a ticket already, it may have nothing to do with your major or your career.

      Do check out consulting though, like IT consulting or sth. you may be able to travel for free with really good perks, and helping other firms with their engineering problems.

      • Aaron
        February 7, 2011 at 3:14 am

        sweet. thx 😛
        i already start my traveling. and i spent about 3months on the road.
        really good suggestions. i will check it out

  2. Nick Su
    February 4, 2011 at 12:46 am

    学姐写的太好了!!!

    • February 4, 2011 at 1:17 am

      I am then glad if you learned anything. cheers.

  3. Charlotte Fan
    February 4, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Love this post!

    • February 5, 2011 at 1:39 am

      Thanks Charlotte. Got your linkedIn msg too. Good luck with your interviews!

  4. 小太阳
    March 17, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    This is an amazing post! Critical thinking of life!

  5. ann
    June 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Hey Danye, I’ve read quite a few of your posts now and I find this one, like the others is definitely insightful and thorough in terms of social observations, explaining the “rules”. I’ve learned quite a lot from you.
    About the guy who is 一表人才, and complaining, I want to point out that his problem seems to me like he has not found his “true calling”, something that intrinsically motivates him. So perhaps it’s not that he needs to be grateful but rather figuring out what he truly wants, though it’s important to be grateful despite whether he has what he’s got or not.
    By the way, to me it seems sometimes you tend to give advices which are proper, safe and practical. But perhaps you could also encourage others to vary on their approach, depending on who they’re dealing with, and be bold. What do you think?

    • July 24, 2011 at 8:17 pm

      You are absolutely right. I wrote this article quite some time back, and I am sure there are many people at our age simply still don’t really know what they truly want and what are their true passions, and I would imagine it is particularly common among people who come from a wealthy family, because they would feel they’ve seen it all, they’ve down it all. Many things that are amazing to most other people will not really interest them any more. So I guess it’s normal for them to find it more challenging to figure out their “true calling”. That’s really a good point and I agree with you.

      About being bold. I have been bold. And I would stay I am still bold. But I try to be proper too. There is a fine line between the two and I try to balance in between as much as I can. I have written some articles that are more cutting-edge and some of my opinions may be more audacious than others. I do realize that many people from different age groups and different walks of life may be reading my articles so I do try not to be too “off”. But I think this is a very valid point, and I agree with you I can still be creative and encourage people to brainstorm other approaches. Thank you for pointing this out and I think you are very insightful yourself too.

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