I want a lot of things. I want a job. I want a corgi. I want to apply to grad school and get it in. I want my own home, start a family, travel. I want to succeed. I want to live a life of true joy. I have told myself (and God) about the things I want every day. Yet, I still look for anything that will come close. Anything that tastes similar to what I actually want.
In the first week of June, I had two interviews in one day. I was excited. I had applied to 26 jobs in May. Hearing back from two employers gave me the glimmer of hope I needed to push forward with my future. This could be the opportunity where I no longer have to stare at my bank account and mourn the demise of my savings. This could be the opportunity where I don’t have to second guess buying a snack at a nearby café when I felt peckish in the afternoon. More importantly, this could be the opportunity where I can learn and gain valuable work experience.
My first interview was for a Fall internship. It was with a design company that I had had my eyes on for the past year. They used design to solve challenges within various industries such as health and business. This was the second time I applied for their internship. I didn’t get an interview last time so I took pride in landing a Skype interview this time. Even my parents were excited for me.
“I know the perfect spot for your interview,” my dad said, “You’ll sit in our living room. I’ll show you tomorrow morning.” My dad recently renovated our living room walls. To the request of my mom, he installed panel mouldings so now she thinks our house looks like a hotel.
On the day of my interview, my dad took my laptop, and placed it on a bar stool. We didn’t have a table that suited my not-so tall stature. He fixed the living room so my background was perfect. And so, at 2:00 PM, I rehearsed my answer to “tell me about yourself”. My interviewer called me 20 minutes after.
It was the fastest interview of my life. It was 10 minutes. The questions were about my personality and interests, rather than my skills and experiences. He didn’t even ask me to tell him about myself. When I logged out of Skype, better answers for his questions popped into my head. So my brain does work after all. Rather than berating myself for answering poorly, I focused on the happiness I felt. I was happy to have had the opportunity to speak to them and see what it’s like to be inches away from being part of their team.
With one interview finished, I prepared for the next. It was at a local clinic and I applied to be a part-time receptionist. Once again, I wrote down possible questions I could be asked and recited my answers out loud. I went to the clinic 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. The receptionist called my name and I entered the interview room.
“Is this just a job for you, or is this a career for you?”
I felt the room get smaller. I didn’t prepare for this question. I put on my poker face while my brain scrambled, in search of a decent answer. No, it’s not. I have different career plans. Should I lie? I could just lie and land the job then leave within the year. Wow I actually don’t really want this job. But it would be rude to say no?
Nevertheless, my lips spoke with honesty.
“To be perfectly honest, I had the intention of making this a job,” I said, with a crumb of hesitation. “But I know that as a recent grad, being open to new opportunities is good. Maybe if I do get this job, it could be a career for me one day when I give it a try.”
I didn’t lie. I wasn’t really excited to be a receptionist. I knew that deep inside, I wanted the internship at the design company instead. I was honest because I knew that being a receptionist wasn’t ultimate career goal. Plus, I wasn’t ready to throw away my career goals for this job. I knew deep inside that I far more passionate about design, science, and communication.
After the interview, I stepped out with a tremendous sigh of relief. He asked me a tough and slightly unfair question but I understand why he asked it. He was looking for someone committed to his clinic and that is fair. I, however, did not want to commit because I intuitively knew that I wanted to work elsewhere.
When I got home that day, I was thankful to have two interviews. The juxtaposition of the two jobs forced me to reflect and ask myself: what do I really want? As a recent graduate, I thought I would be content with any job. I wanted a salary and I wanted to be busy. I also thought that being open to any experience was a good strategy. But I was wrong about that too. For the past few years, I found what I love to do and it’s time to use it in a job that valued my skills. What do I really want? I want to design solutions. I want to help people understand science. I want to work for someone who loves what I love to do.
I changed out of my interview clothes and slid back into my comfy sweatpants. I stared at my ceiling and I was thankful for what I learned that day. It’s much more fulfilling to work somewhere that shared my passion than to get rid of my dreams just to fill up my bank account.