At the age of 22, all you hear people say is stuff like, “The time is ripe”, or “You have your whole life ahead of you”, or “You can make a difference”, and although I believe that for a lot of people, I can never quite seem to believe it for myself.
Spring is here, and so is the pressure to apply for jobs and internships. I for one lie in the internship category, and am thankful for things being slightly easier on me as compared to the poor souls making futile attempts at job hunting this very moment. Just a little bit about the internship requirement: it has to be of around 6-8 weeks, strictly corporate, and span over the summer vacations. Big bummer.
However, that’s not the worst of it. The worst thing ever is when you don’t have an internship at all, when you manage to fail most corporate internship entry tests, and in the ones you do manage to get through, you are destroyed and humiliated in the interview rounds. You see the face of rejection over, and over… and over again, and mind you, that face is not a pretty sight.
I’ve gone through the process quite a few times now, and I think it’s time everybody else goes through it too. Let it be a fair warning to those aspiring individuals yet to step in to this phase, and a wave of nostalgia to those who have already endured it, and live to tell the tale.
- It’s halfway through junior year, and you know that a number of internship offers are going to be surging towards you any moment now, and you just have to grab hold of the best out of the lot.
- It is always the top corporations that conduct their tests first: Unilever. Procter & Gamble. Reckitt Benckiser. These are the three names you’ve memorized and etched in to your brain. This is where you want to get in. The dream almost seems achievable. After all, you’ve been hearing success stories of very ordinary people from your uni, who’s lives changed once they got in to these top tier companies.
- You grow overconfident, and expect to get in without much of an effort. You do prepare for the test, just to be on the safe side, but only so much as too appease yourself.
- Congratulations. You’ve failed test number one. The math was way over your head. But who are you kidding. You know it was the easiest math ever. You’re just bad without a calculator. You begin to think of all those people you know that are exceptional at math. You know you have no chance here.
- You stand in line for the next test, knowing a little more than you did before and realize that there are around 300 people from your uni, and many more from other unis, all waiting to get in to the same organization. How were you calculating your odds before? Why did you even think you had a chance? You’ve never even displayed extraordinary behavior. But that doesn’t matter here. What comes first is the math and the reasoning. And you suck at both.
- By now you’ve become immune to the rejection, and you give up on the prep. You leave it to God’s will and move on with your life. What happens then? You miraculously get through your first test. A whirlwind of images and scenarios rush through your head, and you can see yourself as the CEO of that company, driving around in a Mercedes, and travelling every other day. Such joy! But wait, you have the dreadful interview to ace first.
- It’s interview day. You’ve learned the company’s website by heart, and you’ve seen their best ad campaigns. You want to work for marketing so you’ve memorized all the jargon you can throw at them and convince them of your capabilities. However, your brain freezes over when the first question they ask you is ‘Tell us about yourself’. It’s not like you did not expect it; you know that’s always the first question. You struggle to find the right words, the perfect words to describe yourself, but anything that comes out of your mouth feels subpar. You get through this part, in one way or another, and hope for the best.
- A few weeks later, you check your email to find out that you have NOT been selected for the internship. The company does not seem to be the ‘appropriate fit’ for your personality at the current time (or vice versa), but encourages you to apply for further openings.
- You, in utter frenzy, decide to email your resume to all of your LinkedIn contacts, and the companies they work for, hoping to hear a reply from at least one of them. You delude yourself once more, by thinking your odds are high considering you’ve sent your resume to so many people. Unfortunately, most of those emails go unread, and the resumes ignored.
- On the slightly positive side, you receive replies from 2 or 3 contacts, who ask for sometime to decide, and then disappear from the face of the earth, bringing you back to square one.
So as you can see, the career ride starts off pretty rough for most people, I being one of them. There are always shortcuts in the journey, through references and other (read: illegal) means, that I have chosen to ignore, because I believe in trying my hardest before asking others for help or resorting to shady ways. Not that I ever want to be pushed to the point of having no choice but to use these shady means. Anyway, here I am, still trying my best, having lots of doubts, and learning lots of new lessons on this path of self discovery (and self loathing) and hope that you – when the time comes – do the same.