It wasn’t until I started applying for internships this summer that I realized how unqualified I was for pretty much every “real world” job. I was a veteran waitress, but I knew that wouldn’t be very impressive when applying for dream jobs in television studios and film production companies. I anticipated failure; I had no relevant experience to offer, aside from being an all-star coffee fetcher. But just like bracing yourself for a shot at the doctor’s office doesn’t actually make it sting less, my apprehension didn’t make the rejections feel any better.
In a way, my acceptance of my own inexperience was liberating; I just applied for everything. Even though I told myself I would be happy to get anything at all, there were certain applications I was especially invested in. Of course, the position I was most excited about was also one of the hardest to land: an internship with a trailer house.
No, not a trailer park. Trailer houses are in charge of creating movie trailers. I am a total film nerd and when I see a good movie, all I want to do is bug my friends until they go see it. Naturally, I see trailers as a grand-scale means of persuasion. I’m sure we all know and love the ten-second whispered discussion in between trailers you have with the person you came with about how stupid, awesome or bizarre that movie looked. My problem was just that – everyone loves trailers, which means internships at trailer houses are extremely coveted and nearly unattainable.
The trailer houses know how great we think they are and make their applications painstakingly difficult. For one company, I had to cut my own trailer from a feature-length film. Not only would they choose just one winning trailer, but the winner also wasn’t even guaranteed a job; all that work won an interview that might lead to a job. But hey, other than my own time, I had nothing to lose.
Opting towards humor, I chose The Internship. When I decide I want something, I don’t half-ass it. I either don’t do it or I spend every waking hour committing to it – there is no in between. After I got my hands on a legal digital copy of the film, which took forever because most websites selling them were actually scams, I watched the movie until I was completely sick of it. But I didn’t even want to start cutting the trailer until I firmly grasped the essence of the film.
My first rough cut of the trailer was 15 minutes long. It took ages to get it down to the required two and a half minutes, and even then I still had a ton of work. Graphics, fonts, background music… the list goes on and on. It wasn’t easy, but after it was all over, I was actually really happy with my finished product. It looked professional, my friends gushed over how good it was and I knew that I had done my absolute best. I told myself that in the very likely event that they didn’t pick me, I wouldn’t be disappointed with myself because I had tried my hardest. All I could do was wait.
After days of anxiously hitting refresh, the email I received was the usual cliché informing me of the many qualified applicants who submitted trailers and encouraging me to try again next year… blah blah blah.
I called my mom to tell her about my latest failure, but her words of support fell on deaf ears. I knew that film production was a competitive field to go into, but even local places I applied to wouldn’t give me a chance. It felt like getting rejected from my safety school.
I pretended that my mom’s consoling helped because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Satisfied, she told me to call my grandfather to cheer him up; he’s currently undergoing treatment for cancer. It’s pretty much impossible to have a conversation with my grandfather and not be in a better mood than you were in before; he’s just that kind of person.
Happy for the distraction, I gave my PaPa a call. When he asked about the job search, I told him about all the rejections and how I was second-guessing all my career goals. In response, he told me about his own grandfather, who was always helping out his sister financially with her business ventures. They all failed, until one was extremely successful. “Then what?” I asked. He laughed.
“Then, nothing. She never paid him back a cent of what he lent to her all those years.”
Surprise mixed with confusion as I tried to understand why he told me a story with such an anticlimactic ending, but in retrospect his point couldn’t have been more clear; thanking the people who help you become successful is way more important than the success itself. I remember thinking: what the hell, you’re the sick one, I’m supposed to be cheering you up, not the other way around.
After I hung up, I emailed every person that had ever written me a letter of recommendation, thanking them for spending a little of their time to help me on my journey. People are always telling you to look forward, but I think I’m going to start looking back more often. It’s pretty hard to be disappointed with my future when I remind myself how far I’ve already come.