This I Believe

Emily - Syracuse, New York
Entered on September 6, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe everything happens for a reason. This past summer I made the decision to travel to South Africa and work with historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs. Although, it was hands down the most rewarding, challenging and life altering experience it was not initially my summer plan. Originally, I had planned to gain an internship at an elite investment bank in Manhattan. However, there were a few unlucky occurrences. It started with a stop at CVS to replace my freshly ripped stockings which lead me to miss the train; consequently the next train would have made me late to the interview so I made the decision to drive. The decision to drive would have been a great one and I would have arrived on time however there was traffic which made me a half hour late. Then the cab driver took me to the wrong investment bank and as a result I was one hour late to the interview, already a terrible start. However, I did well at the interview but my tardiness was not overlooked. Luckily, I believe that everything happens for a reason and prior to my horrible interview debacle I had the opportunity to consult entrepreneurs in South Africa which I was accepted.

This program was truly life altering and has resulted in my greater appreciation for life, not only my own but others as well, the undying spirit of man kind and the willingness to never give up or let down. A memorable client we worked with was a 30 year old mother of two who was starting her own skills training academy. She had no resources to start the business but she acquired what she needed through dedication and the determination to reach her goal. Her amazing spirit and will to succeed were extremely admirable. There were many obstacles in her path that she never let slow her down and she always had a smile on her face. I never understood why she was always smiling because I knew she had much more weighing problems than starting a business. For example, her husband was in critical condition after a tragic car accident and the challenge to put food on the table but through it all she was always smiling. When I mentioned something about her consistent smile she said “you know, it could always be worse”

If I had not arrived late to the prestigious, often pretentious and arrogant investment banking interview I would have never had the experience to travel to South Africa and meet these extraordinary people. I learned to appreciate life and whatever comes your way. Now when I do land the coveted investment banking position I will appreciate it, I will cherish the life I have and be thankful everyday that being late resulted in learning more about life in South Africa for six weeks than I have learned about life in all of my 21 years. I believe everything happens for a reason and now I have a greater appreciation for life.