I vividly remember stumbling upon the announcement for the AfterCollege internship program.
I had already applied to, been rejected from, and turned down a number of opportunities for work after graduation. Finance. Data analysis. Legal. Jobs where I imagined sitting in a small cubicle all day crunching meaningless numbers and wearing an ugly tie.
Between my snakebite lip studs, eyebrow piercing, gauged earlobes, and barely concealed tattoos, what was I doing applying to conservative law firms?
Forget about whether or not I was qualified for these positions. I imagined the face of my interviewer when I walked through the door and had to laugh to myself.
I knew that I was going about this all the wrong way. I wasn’t looking to change everything that I loved about myself for a job.
Why hadn’t I applied to any music positions? Film? Art? What were these other “so not me” careers and why did I think that I actually wanted to do them?
As I sat at my kitchen table that morning, I felt utterly stumped. I knew what I didn’t want to do but I had no idea how to find what I actually wanted. I was all sorts of turned around. There I was, days away from graduating as a Media Economics major, and a few terrifying keystrokes away from applying to a position at an insurance company.
I quickly came to my senses and closed the window on my computer. This wasn’t right. I was going about this all the wrong way.
It was time to start back at square one.
To some, the idea of graduating and moving to a new city without a job is pretty scary. To San Francisco no less, a city where the cost of living is like a bad joke that doesn’t know when to die.
Even though I had nothing lined up for the months to come, I somehow felt alright about it. I had this friendly voice in my head saying something good is going to happen.
Even though I was feeling optimistic, I knew that I couldn’t just wait for good things to happen. Not only did I have to keep looking, but I had to look smarter.
I’ll know it when I see it, I thought.
I decided to start simple. I opened another tab.
What to do after college?
That’s what I typed into Google. That’s how I landed right here, on the AfterCollege Blog.
Work WITH us. Not FOR us. That small detail alone was enough to make me keep reading the blog post explaining the opportunities available that summer. What I read about contributing to a team that would value my work was enough to make me want to apply.
Applying got me the elusive and coveted interview. Being honest and well-prepared during my interview got me the job.
Done. Mission accomplished.
On my first morning at AfterCollege, I was nervous in the best way possible. I was convinced that this place was the something good that I’d been waiting for.
Boy, was I wrong.
Just kidding! It was everything that I hoped that it would be.
Walking into the office, the first thing I noticed was its great energy. It was cool and bright with funny pictures of the staff taped on just about every wall. Music blasted from Pandora and the coffee was flowing.
As I sat down for the first time at my new desk, I was greeted by my new coworkers. My welcome to the office went something like this.
Javi: Hey, good morning. Just to let you know, you’re sitting next to the coolest people in the office.
Me: Haha, yeah. I can already tell!
Javi: That’s right. Do you karaoke?
Javi: Do you like karaoke?
Me: Um… yes?
Javi: Good, we’re going on Friday.
And just like that, I was in.
I rode out that first day at AfterCollege on a high. Composed on the outside, I was beaming from the inside. As I write this reflection during my third week on the job, I am grateful for the freedom to explore my voice and grow into my writing shoes. In the distance, Jessica is running around. Vivian is laughing. Javi is telling a funny story and Kellen and Melissa are making a game plan for the day.
I’m sitting at my nice big desk knowing that if I need to, I can get up from my chair, wiggle around a little bit, and continue to get my work on.
And don’t even get me started on the couches. The fact that I can work AND snuggle up to a big fluffy pillow?
Hang on a second, I’m getting emotional.
After meeting with Melissa and Kellen, my first assignment was to write. I wasn’t assigned someone else’s ideas, but my own. The blog post suggestions that I had offered during my application process were actually going to come to life! I loved it.
The strange thing is, while I often enjoyed it, writing and I didn’t always have the healthiest relationship.
When I was in middle school, people started to get really big for this thing called blogging. Suddenly there were all of these fresh-faced twentysomethings making big bucks for writing about the most random things on the web.
As a young kid who had come to realize the power of words, I was intrigued. Here was this potentially new way for me to write for a living. As I delved into the world of blogging, my intrigue turned into frustration. I saw it as a passing phase—something trendy that anyone with a computer was doing. As someone who was, like, totally against the “mainstream,” blogging was on my blacklist. I remember thinking “Blogging is so lame. Why would you pay someone to do this?”
The tween who would have rolled her eyes is now a full time Editorial & Social Media Intern.
Meaning that I blog pretty much every day for a living.
Now that I’m a rational adult and not a “too cool for school” little punk, I can say that blogging is a fascinating form of creative writing.
I’m also pretty sure that it’s here to stay.
There probably weren’t any real reasons that I didn’t like it way back when other than that I was full of angst and hated everything.
Yeah. That sounds about right.
I ran away from the label of “writer” for a long time. As someone who has always been afraid of being pigeonholed, I rarely admitted to myself that I had a true passion for writing. But, although I never actively sought out the opportunity to write, it always snuck into my daily life anyway.
Still, by the time I was old enough to start looking for jobs, writing was the last thing on my mind. Why? Because I was afraid of pursuing something that I was actually good at. What if I found something that I really liked to do but had to do it at some awful, soul-sucking company?
AfterCollege solved that problem for me. Not only do I finally get to own my identity as a writer, I get to do it at a place that I truly believe in.
I’m not writing directions in some technical booklet or destroying the hopes and dreams of young authors. I’m writing with the sole purpose of connecting with people.
What was I so afraid of again?
The road to accepting the position at AfterCollege wasn’t easy. I applied to a lot of random jobs and almost accepted some just because I needed something to do. But, once I was honest about what I wanted to do and what I was capable of, my search went from The Titanic vs. The Iceberg to Me vs. A Slice of Pizza.
If you’re like me, it may be hard to admit that what you want to do is actually what you should be doing. But now I’m not afraid to say that I’m a writer. My advice to you is to stop being afraid. Commit to finding a job where you can thrive and own your skills. No more self-sabotage.
Homework time! Take control of your job search by being open to opportunities that specifically call for the skills that you have. Spend some time looking into different options in your field on Explore and be the one to shape what you are known for.