Network, Network, NETWORK!
Transferring to Temple University for the spring 2017 semester I felt a lot of emotions. I was excited for the challenge and new beginning yet anxious like a little kid the night before their first day of school. I was also nervous and a bit scared that I would be out of place. See, I wasn’t the traditional student. I went to college straight out of high school in 2009 but dropped out to enlist in the military. After enlisting, I started school again but due to the constant geographic and work schedule changes that came with my new line of work I was constantly taking breaks from and changing schools. Not to mention that I was also pregnant with my first child so making the decision to go to Temple was one that would require a lot of determination, discipline and dedication.
I could only take online and night classes a few times a week because of my job and my commute was an hour each way! And although I was just a few years older, initially sitting in classes at Temple I felt a bit unconnected with my classmates at times. Because of my military background some of my instructors and classmates thought that I was so cool, experienced and had the upper hand. However in my eyes I felt out of place and far behind. Not only was I completely switching career fields but going into my senior year I had yet to have internship while other kids in my class was working on their 4th and 5th internships. On top of that I was having scheduling and other miscellaneous issues with my command which conflicted me from taking the classes and from fulfilling my internship requirement, all of which I needed to graduate. After much debate and jumping through hoops, I made the tough decision to separate from active duty so that I could fully focus on obtaining my degree. Thinking the hard part was over I was feeling completely liberated! However in the same breath I still felt discouraged, scared and far behind because I had yet to secure an internship, I was juggling being a newly single mom nine hours away from family, I had just quit my job and not to mention it had taken me all of nine years to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel of undergrad.
Once I got past the super depressing and dramatic cry baby stage of my life, I decided to make the most of what time I had left at Temple. I really went into overdrive mode looking for an internship. I applied to some of everywhere in every city I could think of including Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago and my hometown Detroit. However most times I received the same dreadful email stating that the companies decided to pursue other candidates. This was extremely discouraging. Yet I was determined to make it work so that I could graduate. Upon graduation I was, or shall I say I am, planning to move near family so I knew I wasn’t staying in the Philadelphia area long. I felt as if I was running out of options but I wasn’t giving up just yet. I decided to attend the Klein Career Fair as I was trying to take advantage of every networking opportunity to try to secure an internship. Although I was doubtful of it because as I said I wasn’t planning to remain in the area much longer after graduation, I still decided to go. I mean, you never know who know who and in what city, right? So I went to the career fair but you could tell I just wasn’t “feeling it”. I spoke with no more than ten recruiters and thought almost every negative thought possible like, “Why even waste their time if I’m moving?”, “Should I even leave a resume or even follow up?” and mainly just thought of how pointless I thought it was. But since I went I tried to make the most of it and even left my resume with some people. However, I did not follow up with any of them. The next few days were extremely busy for me and I just hadn’t gotten to it yet plus I had just convinced myself that it was pointless since I planned on moving.
However, over time, and to my surprise three recruiters that were at the fair reached out to me all with internship offers. After careful review I ultimately chose to go with Comcast Spotlight. The more surprising fact is the position I was offered with Comcast Spotlight is only offered in four locations, one being here outside of Philadelphia where my actual internship is and another being in my hometown Detroit where I plan to move (& hopefully transfer into a full time position) after the internship is complete. I know I should have followed up with everyone I met with that day at the career fair but I am just thankful for the opportunity that came from the Klein Career Fair, especially when I felt it would be pointless for me to even attend.
Fast forward to day one of my internship and I was still blown away by the opportunity I’ve been afford because I decided to attend a career fair and network even though I knew I would soon be leaving the area. What I was even more astonished by was another recruiter from another networking event that I went to with Comcast for Veterans way back in November (months before the Klein Career Fair) remembered me and came up to me at orientation. This was another networking event that I just thought would be pointless but decided to go to out of boredom. He said that he and a few other recruiters remembered me from the event and were excited to see that I applied and was chosen to be a part of this year’s internship program.
If I didn’t learn anything from this I learned that no matter how small or pointless you feel the opportunity is still SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY! You never know who knows who, which in my case all of the recruiters I dealt with just so happened to know and work with one another. Given I was offered the internship position in Philly those same recruiters were able to get me an interview with their Detroit location as well! Also, don’t be afraid to take a risk and step out on faith. You’d be surprised with how strong you really are.
I’m so happy for you, DeAja! I still remember taking Persuasive Writing and Digital Analytics & Reporting with you, can’t believe you’ve graduated already! Time flies! You are absolutely right, seizing the opportunity is definitely something that everyone should keep in mind, no matter how hopeless we might be feeling. I admire your journey to Comcast Spotlight so much, and I can’t wait to see where this opportunity will take you.