Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings in the fall of last year sparked several contentious conversations throughout the country.
In addition to discussions about rape and rights of the accused, Kavanaugh’s privilege was a major talking point. The extent to which he should accredit his success to his own hard work versus the help he received was openly debated. Kavanaugh was born wealthy, went to a top tier high school and had a grandfather who went to Yale University, who likely helped Kavanaugh get into Yale himself. He was clearly born with privileges that made his path to success easier than others’.
However, not everybody with a prestigious and connected grandparent, parent or sibling gets accepted to an elite college, and not everybody with a grandfather who went to Yale becomes a Supreme Court justice.
A preexisting privilege doesn’t automatically remove the necessity of hard work from the equation — if someone is lucky enough to have access to a connection, they still have to work hard to advance their career and achieve success. The successes of those who use their inherited networks to help them should not be seen as any less legitimate.
One type of privilege that a student may have is a connection to help them get an entry-level job during or right out of college.
Biochemistry sophomore Sam Szych said he used his mother’s connections to help him land a job at Sanofi, a pharmaceutical company, for this upcoming summer.
“I mostly got (the internship) through my mom (because) she works for Sanofi,” Szych said.
While Szych’s connection did help him land his internship, he says the company still made sure he was qualified before they offered him the position.
“(They) still had to do a background check (and) I did have to send them my résumé,” Szych said.
A connection can only get you so far. It may help somebody land a job initially, but companies still make sure the people they hire are qualified.
Once hired, those with connections still have to perform at their jobs in order to maintain their positions or receive a promotion. If anyone, anywhere doesn’t perform at a job, they will be fired.
Szych says he was told he will be held to the same standards as any other employee in his position.
“If I were to slack off, if I wasn’t going to … put in my fair share of time, they would probably terminate my position,” Szych said.
College students may feel hesitant to use a connection to their advantage, because they don’t want to be seen as taking the easy way out. But if you don’t use this connection, you are just putting yourself at a disadvantage.
Szych says he thinks it was a smart move on his part to use his connection to help him get the job and encourages others to do the same.
“If you have an advantage, you might as well use it,” Szych said.
Whether it’s fair or not, American society is hierarchical, and not everyone is born into an equal playing field. Some have advantages others don’t, whether they are inherent or developed. If you are one of the lucky ones with such a privilege or connection, you should use it — virtually everybody in your position is probably using theirs, too.
Corwin is a journalism sophomore from Long Island, NY.