The glittering night lights and cold glass panels in every city’s downtown core or business district make them look like compelling places to work.
Picture people strolling to work with purpose and determination in a power YSL work shirt or Ferragamo loafers.
Of all the places to work in around the country, it is almost every university student’s dream to work in this high-powered business, where the promise of glamour and wealth beckons.
As students with connections or older friends, we know what the adults say about the illusion of working in the Central Business District.
Back when he was a student, my 30-something friend once told me it was cool for every student to work in this area.
Blending in with the office crowd surrounded by high-rise buildings of concrete and steel was the stuff of fantasies.
Yet, enter the working world for real after graduation, one would realize that the glamour inevitably, predictably and all too quickly wears off.
Being young, do we really take people’s advice? No, we want to experience this rush for ourselves.
Summer break is just starting for students, and many of us are doing our summer internships.
Many of us boast working in the district itself, and barely one week into work, my best friend (doing another internship in the area) and I concurred that we were slightly disillusioned about working life already.
Perhaps it is because we have not been acquainted with the ways of dressing fashionably and appropriately for work.
I recently broke the bank doing some online shopping for office clothes, only to have my direct manager whisper in my ear that my new white dress was “unsuitable.”
And, as lowly interns, there is a fine balance to strike between asserting your individuality and being taken seriously, between dressing fashionably and overshadowing your superiors.
No wonder many of the doe-eyed young people who roam the district around noon are seen decked in the sensible, conventional white and black ensemble, anonymous and faceless in the sea of the lunch crowd.
Speaking of lunch, the hour-long reprieve from staring at the computer screen and stretching our unused limbs, I don’t look forward to it as much as I should.
Cue the lunch madness in the heat, as my best friend and I scramble to find a place selling decently priced food for poor university students like ourselves.
We pass by vaguely familiar faces, check out what fellow inexperienced schoolmates are wearing and try to hunt for the go-to store that has the shortest line at 1 pm.
The smell of the cooking fumes hits, and despite leaving the house smelling like roses, I come back to the office from lunch smelling like cheap barbecue and in desperate need of a bath.
The stress of studying and access to the gymnasium back in school made me look and feel ready to hit the beaches (even though looming examinations instructed otherwise).
In my huge school campus, I walked everywhere in-between classes and got a modicum of exercise; now the furthest I have to walk is 40 feet to the toilet, or 5 feet to the pantry.
Speaking of the pantry, which is likely to be well-stocked with many free snacks, my best friend confessed that she couldn’t stop snacking throughout the day in the office, laying waste to her intense thrice weekly dance trainings.
Working in a towering building in the middle of the city, surrounded by diplomats, consultants and bankers suddenly didn’t seem very fun nor glamorous anymore.
Yet, the beauty of youth is that disillusionment doesn’t persist; I am still brimming with ideas about how to improve my company’s operations and be a change-maker.
There’s also excitement about the things I will be exposed to and learn in the next three months, so thankfully, the verdict of working life is not fully out yet.