“Are you going out tonight?” I remember a time when that was the most pressing question of the day. As an avid American University party girl, I never said no to a late night. Anxiety about what outfit to wear or who I would see always spun through my head when prompted with this question. But my nights out throughout college always ended up fun. I never had a bad time.
Most things in life came easily to me. In my early college years, I made friends effortlessly, got into my dream sorority, studied abroad in Australia and excelled academically. I was perpetually proud of myself for moving from a small town where not many people attend college. I achieved more than I could imagine scholastically and socially at a top university.
At American University I live immersed in the fast paced environment of Washington, D.C. everyday. That said, AU students live with the mindset that one should start interning as soon as they can. So when I interviewed for my first internships as a junior and received every single one of them, I felt pleased with myself. I’d started to make connections within the D.C. communications world while thoroughly enjoying my time gaining experience as an aspiring journalist. My hard work at school seemed to pay off.
I never thought I could call myself an upperclassman with her life together way before her graduation date. But with my rapidly growing resume at the time, I felt invincible and confident in the idea that I companies would beg me to work for them by the time senior year rolled around.
I was wrong.
I went into the fall of my senior year with high expectations. Feeling confident, I applied to my dream internship at a local news station. My GPA soared higher than ever and my internship experience backed up my workplace skills. I truly felt qualified for the job.
Weeks went by and I didn’t hear from the station. I applied to other news stations and companies thinking I’d at least get a few offers and could choose accordingly. But I never received a congratulations email from my dream internship, but rather one that started with “we regret to inform you…”
In the same week I had a phone interview for another great company and never heard back. In fact I never heard back from any of the internships I applied to last fall. What a wake up call.
At this point, my academic achievements meant nothing to me. Who cares if you got a 4.0 this semester? You’re not prepared for the real world, I thought. I should’ve used some of those nights I spent out with friends to prepare for interviews and to apply for more jobs.
It didn’t help that I’m constantly surrounded by success stories in my classes as well. My peers would repetitively boast about their internships with major broadcasting companies. I felt so jealous of my classmates but also exhausted. The essential question of my senior year thus far sounded something like: Why not me?
The thing is, it was always me in the past. I was always the girl who could have a superb social life and manage to earn straight A’s. I was always the girl who got her choreography picked for university dance showcases. While 9,904 miles from home studying abroad, I made unforgettable memories. I just couldn’t comprehend why no one wanted to hire me.
After careful self-evaluation and even further job searching I realized something. I started basing my worth on whether or not a company considered me fit for a certain role. Instead of beating myself up mentally about my past college choices, I should’ve celebrated my achievements both academically and even socially. I’m sure many college students around the country can say they landed an incredible job straight out of school. But can they also say they were honors students who walked side by side at graduation with the most loyal friends imaginable?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very nervous about post-grad life. Almost everyday someone asks about my future. I can’t even wax my eyebrows in the D.C. area without someone asking about my post-grad plans.
I don’t know where my future stands as of right now. But I know one day I will find another comfortable routine. I may not have a job lined up after I graduate, but I do have the drive to do well and incredible people that will support me along the way.
Maybe I find these questions so pressing because my life after college is full of the unknown.