The application and interviewing process can be intimidating and overwhelming in itself, let alone a move to new a city and a new job. Recalling on courses from education can help reduce an often-stressful transition. Luckily, in my senior year of college I took a course titled, “Advanced Interviewing Skills”. This course extended my interviewing knowledge and experience beyond job search interviews. I recall a lot of attention to listening and nonverbal behavior in interview contexts, interview development and management, facilitation skills for group interviews, and analysis and interpretation of interview data. When partaking in an interview, through Skype and in person, I would take a mini self-refresh course from notes and books from that class. This helped me produce constructive interviewing skills and confidence going into the discussion.
After about two months, and a handful of interviews later, I landed a position that I thought would help me excel in my PR ambitions. This role was not a job per se, but hopefully a stepping-stone to a full time, paid position. Despite being an unpaid intern, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. This being my first real position after college, my duty was to prove to this company that I was full-time material. I picked up everything I had, moved to San Francisco and set out on a journey to make it. Like any new journey, there are the various struggles. In my situation, I was a poor recent grad with school debt, my living situation had fallen through, I had maybe three friends in the city, and I was depleting my savings little by little every day. It would have been easy to move home to Southern California like most of my peers, and live with family until I figured things out. But homeless or not, I was committed to my PR position.
Now, my move to San Francisco and commitment to an unpaid internship seems like a big risk. And at the time, it was hard. I would work 40 or more hours a week, doing whatever task I could do to learn the business. Competitive by nature, I took this position extremely seriously. My internship started in August and was supposed to end that November. I figured I had three months to my prove myself. Thankfully, the little savings I had and support from my family helped me get through the struggles.
A few months into my internship, things were going well. I was learning the industry and getting experience, I found a roommate in a great area of the Mission in San Francisco, and I felt that I was on my way up. When my internship end date approached, I made an appointment with the CEO of the agency. I wanted to be sure that he knew I was serious about continuing to work for the agency and intended to move on to a full time role. The day of my meeting with the CEO, I found myself rehearsing our conversation. I practiced what to say, what points to cover, even printed out work I had done, such as press releases. I was beyond nervous to say the least.
Our discussion did not go as I had planned. He asked me point blank, “What are you interested in?” All I could think of was a full-time job. I realized through this experience there wasn’t a time when I thought about what I was interested in, what I liked and didn’t like about the work I was doing, or ultimately, what role I wanted in this company.
I walked away that day without a full time position. I found out later that this company had a tendency to hire interns with hopes of fulltime hiring, and sometimes they did, but most times they didn’t.
Most importantly, I realized from this rejection that I had grown as a professional. Although some may think differently, I believe I accomplished a lot in such a short amount of time. I conquered a new city, I made new friends, I learned some of my strengths and weaknesses in the workplace, and sometimes process of elimination is the best way to figure out what you want to do — or don’t.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the youngest baby boomers, my parents’ generation (1957-1964), will have held an average of 11.3 jobs from ages 18-46. No matter what stage of life you are in, a recent graduate or stay at home mom going back to work, life is always a journey. Even when the experience may seem disappointing, each experience and professional role enhances our lives by making us stronger, more self-aware, and could even open doors to new opportunities we never imagined. Sometimes, we just need somewhere to start.
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