Whenever I meet people, they ask me where I’m interning, as though it is some kind of assumption that because I am a senior at NYU that I must be working somewhere. Granted, since we are in a city that many only dream to live in, it is not unusual to find a student here juggling between classes, work, and sometimes extracurricular activities. I’m never quite sure whether or not I want to give a full explanation or to politely reply that “no, I’ve chosen not to work this semester.” But I figured that I might as well here.
Firstly, I made this decision in the spring when I was accepted into my double honours program, since I wanted time to myself to concentrate on those two daunting academic projects. When it rolled by that I was no longer a part of French honours, I still maintained my stance that I would not be working in my senior year since I held the premise that I would be reserving the year for finding a full-time job for post-graduation and not want to overwhelm myself.
That is not to say that my profile hasn’t been active/online. I’ve left myself open to offers and possibilities so as to see if there is anyone with an offer sumptuous enough to woo me away from my current plans. With that said, it leads me to my second point.
Secondly, no one matched or acknowledged my worth as a hire. The preceding sentence leaves me sound a bit arrogant, but I cannot find any better way to articulate it. Of the offers I received (they found me – I did not apply for any fall internships), there were no interesting proposals or projects to be had, or interest in me as a person, but rather as a generic body to fill in a particular role. And perhaps I’ve been spoiled at Parenting.com in which they matched my skills to actual projects, but is that so wrong? It’s not even a discussion of whether or not they were paid positions, but rather one about me developing skills and making full use of my repertoire.
To best illustrate it, I may as well give you some examples; I’ve received seemingly personalized offers (only for the company to have forgotten they sent me a message previously, and send me a very similar message a month later), had generic interviews in which the interviewer clearly had done no research on me, been offered interviews with those that have extremely vague/general job postings or a “triple no” (i.e. bring your own computer, for credit only, and no compensation).
And lastly, I wanted to connect with my school. I’ve been more affiliated with on-campus activities than I have ever been in these past couple of years, especially since I have spent two years in Paris. It is by no means any last ditch effort to make myself sound appealing to graduate/professional schools; I simply want to have a rapport that I never had with what is meant to be my actual campus, which means being on committees and connecting with students and staff. The experience you have anywhere, including college, can only be what you invest into it (and I’m not just talking about our tuition).
That brings me to the point of this entry – know your value. There isn’t much of a point being somewhere where no one appreciates your work or you as a person. It’s easy to say that any experience is “good,” but it’s better to ask yourself if it is worthwhile. Is your investment bringing some kind of return for you?