As a senior, preparing for graduation, I see my younger friends begin to stress, in NOVEMBER, for summer jobs, internships, and trying to balance an unpaid internship, a job on the side, a few summer classes, and leadership positions in all those organizations they're a part of. And that's awesome, I'd feel lucky to hire them!
But time and mistakes have given me wisdom, and in all that time breaking my back to prepare myself for post-grad, I've learned that as important as professional development is, personal development is just as important.
My first two years at Ohio State, I was so focused on diversifying my resume and making myself "special" and "memorable", that I completely drove myself into the ground. I was depressed, anxious, and lost myself in all that work I was breaking my back over. I had absolutely nothing to help me in an interview, and I was so awkward and surface level that no matter how incredible my experiences were, how great my grades were, it wouldn't matter. No one who interviewed me would ever hire me.
So I took a step back, I took a summer to work a crappy job in a restaurant, where I worked long nights just to be there to open the next morning. I didn't take classes, and I focused on growing as a person. Becoming more kind, compassionate, and confident in myself and my skills. I had to do nothing in order to realize what I was good at.
I'm good with people. I make people feel important and listened to. That's my skill set. I'm smart, sure, but that's not my biggest skill.
After that summer? I changed my major, from engineering to nursing, and started working smarter, not harder. I applied for jobs that would both bring me joy and help me develop my nursing skills, and I ran for leadership positions that focused on the people instead of just whatever position I was qualified for.
I applied for positions I was absolutely, positively not qualified for, and made myself willing to toot my own horn if I was lucky enough to get an interview. I refused to take no for an answer, choosing instead to find a different way to my goals.
And as I prepare to graduate from The Ohio State University after four really fucking hard years, this is the best advice I can give. Grow internally, grow your personality and strengths outside the classroom before you focus on your "real life" skills. Sure, you might have fewer experiences that your classmates, but when it comes down to an interview or a career fair, you're going to be the one recruiters remember, because you will be so unapologetically you. And at the end of the day, isn't that what really matters?
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