What Ethics means to me – checkpoint 1 Over the years, I have changed from Egoist to Utilitarian. When I was in college, like most of the Millennial Generation kids, I was more an Egoist. Peer pressure was a very powerful thing. It was my first time being 19-hour-flight away from home and also it was my first time living in the States. No one really taught me what to do, so I gradually picked it up from my friends and classmates. People from the suburbs of Chicago were quite friendly yet so distant. Some of them were self-centered and would put great emphasis on personal space. Therefore, I started getting used to the idea that everything should circle around me and it was totally normal that everybody should do what is his self-interest. I even carried this attitude to my first internship with a Chicago Advertising agency in my sophomore year back in college.
Two weeks after my internship started, when I got to know most of the people in the office, I started settling in my comfort zone. I treated the job less seriously. I started browsing the internet and lingering on social media websites when there was no assignment assigned to me. Meanwhile, my team was working very hard to finish one big project for Southwest Airline. They were too busy to notice me flying under the radar and I also failed to let them know so. Obviously, I put my own interests in front of my team as well as the whole firm. My team members were trying to bring in as much profit as possible for the fir m, on the other hand, I was just being an outsider and killing time. The selfishness lasted two straight weeks until my manager found out that I had no work assigned. The manager talked to me about wasting company resource on web browsing and not being a team player. The meeting was about half an hour but I felt like it lasted for forever. It is the first time people confront me with my egoism problem instead of avoiding it. At first, I refused to accept his advice out of a false sense of pride, but gradually his words made great sense to me. That embarrassing yet enlightening meeting was my greatest takeaway from my first internship experience. The exaggerated sense of self-importance made me fail to understand the true meaning of internship, which is a great opportunity offered by an employer to a potential employer with an emphasis on on-the-job training.
After that, I saw my weakness and started working on my team playing skills. Luckily, I found my mentor from my finance class. She is from Bulgaria. She has worked very hard to earn her PhD degree and become the chair of the business department. She understood my struggles about international student trying to find a job all on our own. I asked her advice on everything, from whether or not I should go study abroad in my senior year to holiday trip ideas. She is not only my teacher, but also my mentor and friend. She would be brutally honestly with me when I made academic mistakes or when I failed to follow the rules. She also set up examples for me to understand what ethics really means to a professional. She would never compromise her academic paper for funding or other company’s requests. Especially when writing for company analysis, she would keep herself unbiased and stay away from the gifts and unnecessary money sent by the company. I have asked her why she never took the money. I knew the university was not paying her a lot. She gave me a very powerful answer, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. Without ethics, the market would be chaotic and everyone suffers. Even though my share to the market is tiny, little by little and bit and bit, doing the right thing really counts.” Now looking back, I am extremely grateful to her that she taught me the most important lesson about being an ethical profession and being Utilitarian.
Thanks to the power of Coogs, I landed another internship with one of Big Four in my first semester of master program.