As an English major with plenty of potential but only a couple of internships under my belt, one of the more daunting parts of graduation was answering the many polite inquiries into what I was going to do next. The question was daunting at first, but as I answered it more for others, I actually got a better idea of how to answer it for myself. It was a chance to hazard, to test out how different paths felt on the tongue, like trying on clothes before buying them. My final answer, as of graduation, was that I would intern and work for a while before going back to grad school.
The catch was figuring out what that internship or work was going to be, and finding it proved a frustrating task.
I sifted through dozens of jobs and internships in Tribe Careers and got to the interview stage with a few companies, and each time something wasn’t quite right. Deloitte didn’t pan out, and another company proved to be nothing more than door-to-door cold calling. It was a legitimate internship, but minus commission, they paid less than minimum wage. I turned them down.
Graduation came and went, and I moved back home with my parents, jobless. I joked about being a boomerang kid, but beneath the humor was a gnawing worry that I wasn’t where I needed to be: that I hadn’t had enough internships, or learned the hard and technical skills that would make me employable. I worried that I hadn’t fully utilized my time as an undergraduate, and now I was going to pay the price with a sub par career, or at least a slow start. My thoughts strayed back to the cold-calling job, wondering if I shouldn’t have taken it.
I shared my fears with my dad. He listened thoughtfully, and then asked me how many things I had applied to. “About a dozen,” I said.
He laughed. “Come back when you’ve applied to two hundred.”
He may have been exaggerating, but he had a point. Job-hunting in earnest is nothing less than a full-time job, and I had so far been juggling it with other important and more immediate concerns related to finishing my undergraduate career. Northern Virginia had a good job market, and as a William & Mary graduate, there was no way I wouldn’t get hired once I threw my whole determination behind it.
Still, the worry remained until my godmother put me in touch with the CEO of an advertising firm for a phone conversation. He gave me valuable insight into the marketing industry, what skills I had and others I could develop, and different career paths.
Most importantly, he told me: “You’re in a good place. You are where you need to be on your journey right now.”
It took that conversation, along with the weight of all the others I’d had before it, to jar me into recognizing one crucial fact: I was going to be alright.
It’s difficult to graduate and go from being an experienced senior to a confused new face in the real world, and even harder to accept the rejections that pile up from each carefully-crafted cover letter. But with each cover letter and each interview, you become more skilled at presenting yourself. You’ve graduated from W&M, so you’ve already proved you’re smart and willing to work. The next step is just a matter of effort, and time. Just yesterday, this once-nervous blogger was offered a paid marketing and communications internship, and I am stoked to get started.
A good friend once told me, “If not this, something better.” So whether you’re going for your first college internship or your first post-graduation job, know that not only will you be fine: you are going to be spectacular.