“All the unpaid internships and volunteering that I did in the past got me actual [paid] jobs.”
This was something I told a friend recently who is starting to lose hope in her plans for employment. If you’re a newly graduated student, or just an adult searching for a job opening, interview, or even direction, you understand how tough it can be to find anything to do at the moment, let alone get paid to do this “anything.” I’ll be straight: it wasn’t the internships or the volunteer work itself that got me hired, but the stories I gleaned from these experiences. Once you realise that our life revolves around stories, life gets a little easier to navigate…
Reading the book “Intern Nation” sure did scare the crap out of me as a senior in college, but it made me appreciate the good experiences I have had and helped me identify job postings that equalled slave labor (this is NOT an exaggeration—unpaid & uncompensated work is illegal in most countries). In the pursuit for purpose (and a means to support myself and build a savings), I lamented over the pages of volunteer work and internships in my resume that seemed to all lead nowhere. Countless hours. Networking for naught. Was my degree even worth anything? (My university still hasn’t sent me my diploma a year after I walked. Lame.)
As easy as it is to be a downer about any situation (greener grass, anyone?), let’s jump to what I’m saying: all the time I put into leadership meetings, filling out Excel spreadsheets, filing records, stuffing envelopes, bagging t-shirts for Dan Radcliffe or designer clogs for Miley, and tweeting/blogging new medical inventions translates into minutes of good stories. Tell the stories you most enjoy frequently and start to find out why you enjoy them and reflect on that. Then start telling these stories at interviews. If you tell the story well, you will share what you knew, what you know now, and how you’d like to apply that wisdom to the job you want.
Don’t have interesting stories? You’ll have to go live some then! You’re still at the exciting beginning stages and I am stoked for you! Explore internships, volunteer work, or collaborative efforts and get creative with your talents. You want a job you love and the first step to getting that is to find out what you love. This might involve flipping burgers on the side and taking night sculpting classes afterwards, but do it! You never know what you may learn on the way, who you might meet, or what stories will be created!
I’ll leave you with something my dad just told me recently: “Looking back, all the experience from every job or class I’ve ever had or taken has been put to use in some part of my life.” Notice: this isn’t luck, this is perspective and attitude. It’s a choice.
God speaks to us in dreams and flickers of the imagination. Pay attention to them. Write them down. Reflect on them. You’ll be surprised what you find. :)