CLAREMONT, Calif. – With job and internship searches in full swing, the winter months are some of the most stressful at Claremont McKenna College as students clamor over where they will end up come May.

Desmond Goetomo, a junior at CMC, secured a summer internship that could turn out to be a dream gig: a position at a venture capital firm that invests in gaming. In this case gaming refers to professional e-sports. If things go as planned, Goetomo will be sharing an apartment with a friend from CMC and working in Santa Monica, which is an important detail because it is difficult to find internships that accept non-U.S. citizens.

Goetomo is from Jakarta, Indonesia, and is of Chinese descent. He notes this when he talks about how the Chinese have historically been discriminated against in Indonesia, especially during a spurt of nationalist uprisings in the late 1990s. An international relations and economics dual major, Goetomo added a sequence in finance to his academic arsenal.

“I wasn’t too set on my major or what I wanted to do, but CMC funnels you towards finance and business,” Goetomo said. “The idea of doing anything else now is absurd. I can’t image trying not to do that.

Goetomo played King of Hearts, an elaborate video game, as he talked about how he got his job. He put considerable work into the job search this year, and all of the networking and schmoozing finally paid off in early spring when he met a managing partner of a venture capital firm whose son attends CMC. Kismet! The pieces were falling into place, and his excitement — and his relief — were evident.

Most students feel the pressure of the internship and job search, regardless of school, field of interest, or nationality, but there was something distinct in Goetomo’s anxiety. Perhaps it was that his goal of working in the United States after college becomes less likely if he cannot work here this summer. Most students going into finance hope to receive a job offer from the companies where they intern after their junior year, and Goetomo wants that certainty and stability.

“We (international students) don’t have as much freedom of choice. It’s already hard to get work here,” Goetomo said. “My background growing up has been achieving a stable life, not doing what do I want to do. I’m willing to sacrifice things I might want to do, like becoming a chef. And CMC totally augments that.”

Goetomo feels CMC discourages students from doing what they want, and instead stresses return on investment, or ROI, which is mentioned throughout campus tours and information sessions. It’s to remind parents and students that although tuition is high, CMC graduates are some of the most successful and financially stable college graduates in the nation. The message: You get what you pay for.

Has CMC warped Goetomo’s perception of education? “It’s more results-based,” he says. “One of my relatives from home told me before I came to school to try to take cool random classes, like an art history class or something. But I don’t have time. …

“I will come out of school with a very narrow focus. I’m taking classes because I have to. Not because I want to.”

(Written by Rob Dobie; Feb. 10,2017)

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