“The more people I speak to, the more I realize that it’s ultimately my decision,” Max says thoughtfully, considering his career options on a rainy afternoon in Center City. “I think I went around searching for the answer from others for a little bit.”
Max, 21, will begin his senior year at Temple University this month, and like many of his peers in the JEVS-operated Franklin C. Ash Summer Internship Program, is recognizing that graduation – and “real life” is right around the corner. Fortunately, Max has some options already lined up, but in speaking with him, you note the hopefulness – and concerns – of this year’s college seniors.
“I grew up in Baltimore, following baseball in particular,” the journalism major notes. “When I realized I couldn’t throw a 95 mile an hour fastball, I channeled it into sports journalism. I interned at a radio station in high school and worked as an editor in the school paper – I really enjoy the research and writing aspect, learning things, developing ideas and analysis.”
President of Hillel at Temple University, Max realized early on that group involvement would be a good way to increase his chances at a future he would enjoy.
“I think of work as part-living and providing for family, but if you can manage it, also about doing something you enjoy,” he said. “My grandmother is a social worker and my grandfather is a rabbi; my father operates a treatment facility for abused and neglected children in Baltimore…so fulfillment – this idea that you could be doing something with your life to assist others – that’s very appealing to me.”
In fact, in addition to his extracurricular activities, Max earned two consecutive years of summer internships with AJC – helping to expand intergroup/interfaith relationships within the diverse Philadelphia region and to press for human rights and democratic values around the world. These experiences changed him, and gave him broad perspective over how an individual can shape the world.
“I feel like my peers are cautiously optimistic,” he notes. “When we talk about this, there’s definitely anxiety about getting a job, but it’s more ‘It will come along, it may take some time, but there is a job that is meaningful and out there and isn’t totally out of reach for me.’”
He’s quick to note that in addition to parental pressure, students today are also susceptible to the major issue of student loan debt.
“There’s a decent amount of anxiety that comes from that,” he says, noting that some of his peers have been working throughout college to minimize the damage upon graduation. While humble about his own successes (he is a published author), Max does note the resources and steps that his peers have taken to put their own best feet forward in the working world.
“Many of my friends are interning, and doing a decent amount of networking, both on and off campus. I see them leveraging those relationships, as well as monitoring job websites, and doing research on the different organizations that are out there.”
He recommends that college students also consider taking advantage of career services offered at their local school, or within their community. For instance, JEVS Career Strategies offers resume review, interview skills, career workshops and job placement assistance for the Jewish community and beyond.
Turning more philosophical, Max discussed generational stereotypes and how culture might change in future years.
“I really think that especially today, we’re challenged by our own echo chambers,” he said. “I worry that there’s this tendency that we have to despair – we might say ‘things are so broken and I’m right and you’re wrong’, we might say ‘older people are terrible’ – and I feel like what I’m most optimistic about life after college is this idea that we’ll be exploring different values and ideas, and broadening our horizons. At JEVS, with our younger Lasko mentees, and then at AJC, where we’re working with Siempre Salsa, creating social interaction between the Latino community and the other communities – it’s that interaction, that community-building that leads to relational advocacy…that helps to make the world a better place.”