I’m now a senior in college, which is a scary thought for many reasons, but mostly because I have to begin the process of finding a job. As a finance major I like to keep informed about the economy, and right now the developed world is struggling to stave off a worldwide slowdown. Financial institutions have been among the hardest hit, as they faced an overall crisis of confidence on a global scale, leading to a sharp wave of layoffs. This past spring, I witnessed first hand the turmoil in the job market, when I sought an internship in the battered financial services industry. I have always been critical of the notion that “everything happens for a reason.” The plan we have for ourselves should come from within and not be shaped by external forces. I believe in creating one’s own destiny, and proactively pursuing your aspirations regardless of the barriers that confront us all.
It felt like the college admissions process all over again; the intense competition, the interviews and traveling were just as stressful and the rejection similarly demoralizing. The headlines for the job market were grim, and it was easy to be pessimistic, but I continued to explore all options, and seek assistance from anyone willing to offer advice and guidance. While at the time the odds against me seemed insurmountable, I continued to believe that in the end I would be justly rewarded for my determination.
During my sophomore year, I had cultivated a relationship with someone I knew only in name, after scrolling through a database of financial professionals in the Career Center. After a series of emails, he offered to act as a mentor and help me build my resume and connect me with many of his colleagues. We stayed in touch over the year, and naturally I reached out to him when I began my internship search. He was starting his own business in May, so was able to relate with my struggles, as he himself faced boundaries rallying investor support in such a tumultuous economic environment. It was an interesting parallel to my situation, and he was looking for some help with his firm in its infancy. Although I had only met him once, he saw I was persistent and aggressive, and ultimately offered me a summer position.
Throughout this entire process, I remained confident and steadfast about my ambition. The external forces, namely a distressed job market, tested my mettle, but my summer internship ended up reinforcing my career goals and proved to be an invaluable experience. If you want something badly, it has to be a matter of when or how you will achieve it or make it happen, not if you will. It felt good to be rewarded for hard work and even better to be primary authority in dictating the plan I had set for myself.