Your Accomplishments Don't Define You
How It All Started...
I experienced an insane amount of growth during my first year of college. I came from a town where everyone was aware that they lived in a “bubble,” and now I attend an incredibly diverse, open-thought university. When I started my first semester, I was ready to hit the ground running! It doesn’t take a lot for me to become excited about change. In fact, I welcome it! I loved meeting new people, exploring a new city, choosing what I wanted to learn, and becoming involved everywhere I could be!
I came into my first year of undergrad with 43 college credits completed (HUGE shoutout to AP classes & dual credit for saving me time & money). I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do in terms of a career, a hunger for education, and a passion for finding myself. Sounds like a typical college student, right? A few weeks after classes started, I began attending meetings with organizations that interested me. The first meeting I attended was hosted by a professional organization focused on the human resources practice. I wasn’t an HR major, nor was I interested in finding a career in it. Still, the members were very welcoming, and it was a starter organization I was comfortable to step into.
Another organization I joined was Delta Sigma Pi (DSP). Delta Sigma Pi is a co-ed professional business fraternity that focuses on the professional development of business students! (I could go on & on about how this organization has changed my life, but I’ll save that for a future post!) Becoming a part of DSP requires you to go through a pledging process. This definitely filled up my schedule with all sorts of events to partake in! I grew a little on-campus family through DSP, and I’m grateful to say that some of my best friends are also my fraternity brothers!
Sprinkled in between classes, meetings, commuting, and cultivating friendships, I spent a great deal of time applying to internships. I can’t recall how many I applied to during that semester, but I applied everywhere I could! I went to career fairs & tabling sessions to improve my networking skills and receive an opportunity to interview with a company. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the semester for me. My email inbox was filled with messages beginning with “Thank you for your interest in _________ position. However, we regret to inform you that we will not be continuing with your application.” After receiving so many rejection emails, I began to feel numb about the application process as a whole. I would find another internship to apply to, already knowing I wasn’t going to hear anything back. I remember I vented about it to my family on several occasions. The advice they gave me helped realign my perspective on my growing journey. Don’t expect anything in return. This is all part of the process. We know it might sound a bit odd, but we want you to experience the rejection now. What you want isn’t going to come easy to you. Let this process toughen you up as you go along. Be grateful for each experience because it’ll mold you into who you are meant to be.
This piece of advice helped me jumpstart my mindset on days when I didn’t feel like putting in as much effort. My first semester was more strenuous on the academics side of university life. My first programming class defined the majority of that semester (check out my previous blog post if you haven’t already!). Although I was a little exhausted from my courses, I felt confident about where I was in my life. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but I’m going to get there. Just wait.
“I just want someone to want me.”
If I were to define Spring 2019, it could be summed up in one phrase - “I just want someone to want me.” Now, hold your horses! This has nothing to do with what you’re probably thinking about at the moment. Let me explain…
I had hit a slump. I was rejected countless times. I was becoming exhausted from going to all of these events and informationals and walking back to my car empty-handed. The most I got in return was a smile, a nod, or “sure, we’ll take your resume and hold onto it for future reference.” There was nothing I craved for more than that first opportunity. That first opportunity to just give it the best I’ve got and show people that I’m someone worth having on their team.
I felt the heaviness of rejection and discouragement weighing on my chest.
Why doesn’t anyone want me? I just want someone to want me...
& then every opportunity began flooding in.
When classes picked up again, I was sitting in my stats class when my phone dinged - twice. I received two emails about interview opportunities for internships I applied to on a whim! NO WAY! This can’t be real. OH MY GOSH! IT’S REAL! I quickly got up from my seat and ran in the hall to call my parents - YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO BELIEVE WHAT JUST HAPPENED! I HAVE TWO INTERVIEWS! There were so many squeals and shrieks being exchanged that I think the people around me thought I was out of my mind (oops :3).
The mix of excitement, anxiety, stress, & ambition began stirring in my head. Interviewing was a whole storm of its own, and I can’t believe I got through all of it during that semester. Within two weeks, I went through six different interviews...yep, SIX. I was running around like crazy and juggling an intense schedule with as much sanity as I could possibly hold. (I’ll have a future post about my experiences with interviewing soon!)
So, what happens now...?
I got an offer for everything I interviewed for. I still find that hard to believe as I’m typing this. All those days/weeks/months of grinding finally paid off. I received an internship offer as a Business Analyst for Summer 2019, a member invitation for an equity research cohort program (this interviewing process was definitely one of the toughest), and an internship offer as a Management Consultant for Summer 2020. With a grateful heart, I can say that I was professionally set for two summers.
With all that being said, the aftermath of going through my first internship and completing the cohort program truly shocked me. When I started my junior year (Fall 2019), I felt like life slowed down by a few levels. I was back to being a full-time student. Since I already had an internship offer for the upcoming summer, there wasn’t a need for me to be actively interviewing like I did the previous year. I don’t say that as a complaint in any way, but I mention it because it threw off the mindset I was accustomed to living in - always working towards someone wanting me.
I’m grateful that I had my “ducks lined in a row” per se. I honestly wasn’t stressed out about that many things at the time, but I remember I felt a little...off. Instead of driving back and forth between networking events, career fairs, or interviews, I trekked from class to work on homework in the library. Instead of spending my free time studying and practicing for interviews, I worked on passion projects and played volleyball at the rec. For the first time in a while, I had a chance to breathe, and what’s funny is that I didn’t know what to do since I wasn’t always on-the-go anymore.
Why am I writing about this?
Let me put it simply…
I experienced a steep trajectory in my academics and professional life. It was incredibly steep to the point that I was running off of the fumes that pushed me towards one opportunity after the other without taking a break. The calm AFTER the storm was a life lesson I didn’t think I was going to experience, but I think it’s one of the most crucial experiences to embrace to move on in your life. Yes, I experienced an amazing year full of growth and open doors. But, there’s also a lot to learn within silence and peace - the serenity of having your everyday life not being a whirlwind of events and tasks. Challenges and grit will always be a part of our lives, but it’s in the mundane moments when we can genuinely check-in with ourselves and appreciate how much we’ve grown. I’m proud of all that I’ve accomplished thus far, and I will continue to push myself to be a better student, not only in the classroom but in life as well.
So, as a genuine reminder to all of you (and myself too), it’s okay to not be running all the time. It’s okay to not be chasing one opportunity after the other. Don’t forget to enjoy where you are and keep your heart and mind open to possibilities; the rest will fall into place. <3