I’m going to be a senior this fall, and yet, as the end of my undergraduate education approaches, so does the awful realization that I have no clue what I want to do with my life. It seems like everyone else already knows what they want. You know who I’m talking about: those annoyingly perfect people who seem to have had their lives planned out since the fourth grade. On the other hand, I can’t seem to fixate on anything. I can see myself doing about 17 different things, each more different than the last.
Everyone I know has landed internships left and right in their fields of interest—everyone except me. Working part-time at the mall, for no deeper interest than to earn some pocket money, I felt like I was at a complete standstill on my journey toward a solid future. Working in retail is a special kind of hell. I have a few working titles if I ever want to write a book about it: “#retailprobs,” “Do You Work Here?,” “Would You Like a Bag?,” and “No, We’re Not Hiring.”
I was imagining life beyond retail jobs when one of my best friends told me about a tour guide internship opportunity with the UMD admissions office. It seemed perfect. Whenever someone asks me how I like UMD, I can’t stop raving about it. That’s the kind of person they would want, right? Not to mention how landing this internship would look on my resume and work experience because let’s be real; the real world (outside the realms of shopping malls) requires everyone to be equipped with a well-rounded skills set.
Previously, I’d landed four job interviews, all for stores in the mall. They were group interviews in the food court. Needless to say, they were all very casual. When I got an interview for the tour guide internship (which I was super excited about) they didn’t mention anything about attire, so I figured it didn’t matter. Besides, the campus tour guides mostly wear khakis and Maryland T-shirts. It was a really rainy day, so I wore my favorite sweater, a nice scarf, dark jeans and rain boots.
There were three people interviewing me, and I got really nervous. Suddenly, I felt underdressed. But my personality should’ve made up for it, right? One of the first questions they asked me was whether I did any extracurricular activities on campus. My answer was no, but I explained that because I work, I don’t have time to join any clubs. That sounded like a horrible answer. Here they were, looking for someone to represent their school, and I basically just took classes on campus.
Actually, reflecting back on it, wearing jeans is a big “no-no” during interviews, no matter how casual you think the interview is.
Some of their questions were similar to the retail ones, but for the most part, these were brand new. I didn’t prep at all for the interview because I didn’t think I needed to. Don’t they want you to be yourself during interviews? I found out that’s a big “no-no” as well.
My favorite question was about my favorite memory at UMD so far. I’d won tickets to a sold out basketball game thanks to Twitter, met the president of our school, won a gift card and appeared on the jumbo-tron. Wouldn’t that be a great story to tell parents and their kids?
For the most part, I thought my interview went pretty well. Then I found out that I didn’t get it. I felt sick. I’d had such a good feeling about this internship, and they basically said they didn’t want me representing the school. I started going over everything in my head. Why didn’t I get it?
I spoke too fast.
I used my hands a lot when I spoke.
I didn’t shake anybody’s hand at the end. I just thanked them and left.
The list goes on forever. I even emailed them asking if they could tell me why I didn’t get the internship. They never replied.
There’s a place called the Point of Failure at UMD. If you step on it, rumor has it you won’t graduate on time, so it’s best to avoid it. They always mention that in the tour groups. Now, whenever I see a tour group near there, I get really tempted to walk by it, step on it, smile, then walk away. But I don’t.
Just because you you think you’re perfect for the job doesn’t mean you’ll get it. Have I found my perfect internship yet? No. Do I still work in retail? Let’s just say I won’t be asking if you need help finding your size. So that’s one step forward.