Two days ago, I got an invitation to complete first-round interviews with one of my dream internships for next summer.
Being an offer from a major corporate company, and me not going to an Ivy League school, this is a huge deal. I go to a highly ranked academic school, but it’s in the midwest and it’s not first on the recruiting list for major companies.
Basically what this means is a lot of the companies I want to work for don’t recruit out of my school. They get thousands, if not millions, of applications for every job they post, so they need a way of quickly weeding down candidates. One way they do this is by school – they have a list of schools they recruit from (Stanford, Yale, Northwestern, etc. along with bigger schools with really good finance/business programs, i.e. Indiana University’s finance school), and if you don’t go to one of these schools, they just send you a rejection letter without ever looking at your application.
To get around the ugly pattern I saw during my spring semester, where I would apply to a role at a big company, then less than three days later would receive an automatic rejection email, I have to dig my way in through the trenches. Connecting with analysts and associates (and sometimes even a member of leadership) on LinkedIn, messaging them that I want to talk about the position, and then pitching myself to them below-the-threshold in hopes they will recommend me to HR. Having someone who works at the company recommend you is another way to get your resume pulled and receive a first-round interview.
I’ve been intrigued by Dream Company A for a while. Partly because of the job position and work I would be doing, partly because I had heard such great things about the people and culture there. Another big reason, a lot of times the company you intern with after your junior year gives you an offer letter to return as a full-time employee. As someone who picked their college just weeks before the start date, I’d always fantasized about having such a big decision, like where I would work after graduating, already decided for me. I mean, think about it. I get an offer letter in August of my senior year, and I accept, already knowing I have something set up in the Real World for after graduation. I can’t slack off in my classes, but one of the biggest stressors in a college senior’s life has just been lifted off my shoulders. Dream Company A would be the perfect job post-graduation. I could travel, but still do intense work, meet new people, and I can’t deny that working at a big, respectable company and having a secure salary right out of college aren’t also reasons.
Upon receiving the email I got the first rounds, all these possibilities ran through my head. In less than five seconds after I read the subject line, I was imagining myself as a college grad, living in a small apartment in Boston, traveling every week for work, and becoming a boujee city girl. It happened instantaneously, but I always have this trouble. I daydream about my future life too much so that even if it turns out great, it’s never as perfect as I imagine it. I get disappointed even if I’m still having a fantastic time, just because it wasn’t as perfect as I dreamed it to be. In reality, I don’t know what city I’ll be working in, I don’t know if I will be on the kind of projects that will allow me to travel, I don’t know if I will work two weeks in the internship and decide I could never do it full time, I don’t even know if I’ll make it to second rounds.
Which brought forth a whole new problem. When I was applying to jobs and getting automated rejection letters within three days, it was frustrating, but I have to admit there was also a level of comfort to it. I knew that when they came back that fast, I was getting rejected because of the school I go to. If I go through these first-round interviews at Dream Company A and then get rejected, I won’t be able to blame it on my school anymore. The blame will solely be on my shoulders. I didn’t respond correctly in the behavioral interview, I didn’t study enough for the technical interview, the interviewer didn’t like me. Now, it’s all on me.
That kind of pressure, along with the intensity of instantaneously dreaming out my life three years ahead, terrifies me. I know it well – I start planning something, daydreaming about it, only for it not to work out, only for me not to get the opportunity or the job and I become absolutely crushed. I get so disappointed about something like this that I am physically unable to get out of bed or eat. I know I’ll be abroad when I get the news as well. I have first rounds just three days before I leave for Europe. If I continue on to the very end and eventually get the job, I’ll learn about it while in Madrid – another scenario I’ve been daydreaming about. However if I get rejected right after the first rounds, or at the very end, I’ll also learn about it in Madrid – a scenario I’ve been nightmaring about. My first month in a strange city, the feeling of limitlessness you get when traveling, and then to have it all come crashing down with the bad news. Living in a small apartment with three strangers, in an unfamiliar city, and parent’s in a time zone seven hours behind me.
I’ve spent my entire summer talking with associates from Dream Company A. I’ve missed workout classes and dinners with friends because I am adhering to the Project Manager’s busy schedules. I’ve spent my Saturdays and Sundays at the library before heading back to a full-time job during the week because I need to study for my interviews. I’m working an internship, but I felt all summer like I was working another part-time internship in preparation for my internship next summer – a whole year away.
It’s like when we are in high school, and we’re back at school after spring break, counting down the days until summer comes. Making plans for fun activities, to travel, and have the summer of your dreams. Then summer rolls around, and you spend most of your days not really knowing what to do, and you get frustrated because the summer you planned out in AP Statistics third period didn’t look anything like this. Summer is great, but it’s never as great as we imagined, which, in August when we go back to school, taints our memory of it a bit.
We wanted it to go perfectly. I want everything to go perfectly, but that’s just not how things work.
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