Retaining the Social Experience:  Ethan and Avi’s Story

February 28, 2021

While some might assume that leaving college may give up the “college experience,” a job or internship doesn’t have to mean leaving behind the social aspect.

Ethan Knight and Avi Verma are two college students taking time off from Stanford University to take an internship at a large tech company headquartered near Palo Alto. With spring’s shift to distance learning, Knight didn’t feel online lectures provided the learning environment and quality of education for him.

“Online school took away many of the things we had come to enjoy about Stanford.  We felt that many of the things we loved about campus life were lost in the transition online,” Knight said. The opportunity to take a year off to start working was a convenient option.

Knight’s Stanford roommate, Verma, concurred with feeling online learning was not right for him. 

“I did spring online, but I found it hard to learn and felt I was slacking,” Verma said. He followed Knight in taking a year off from school to pursue an internship at the same tech company.

Knight, who now works as a computer vision engineer, and Verma, a full-stack intern whose job is streamlining processes for engineers, found a creative way to hang onto the social aspects they missed at school.

Although they have moved into Knight’s parents’ home, they turned the front room of the house into the dorm room they left behind, complete with a guitar, unmade bed, and takeout food boxes. By day, they gain hands-on work experience, while outside of work, they still hang out with friends who stayed in college. During a difficult time, they find they are as close as they can get considering the circumstances.

Verma and Knight are taking time off from Stanford but have re-created their dorm experience. (Chi Huang)

Nevertheless, while this experience has been positive for both, each cautioned that taking a break should be based on the individual. Knight provided some thoughts for anyone considering taking time off.

¨It’s important to think deeply before taking a gap year. College gives you a rigorous workload, a set schedule, and opportunities for meaningful friendships almost immediately. However, without that structure in place, there are many lessons that you’ll learn in an internship or pursuing your own venture that you can’t learn inside a lecture hall. It’s a high-risk decision, but it can be very rewarding,” Knight said.

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