College is confusing. Internships are confusing. In general, I think many of us can come to the conclusion that life in and of itself, is confusing. One minute we’re required to raise our hand to ask to use the restroom, then we’re in college expected to figure out our lives in four short years and then we’re off working in our desired industry, hoping our education and experience gained all pays off.
As a junior in college who has made Dean’s List every semester, completed five - yes FIVE internships, held leadership positions and somehow maintained a social life (well, kind of), nothing could have prepared me for the consequences that come with trying to maintain a work/school/life balance. It was not until late when people began making comments such as, “How do you do it all,” or my personal favorite, “You really have your life together - can you teach me your ways?” In all honesty, when I hear people say those things, I never know how to respond. But I’ll let you in on my secret, the truth is - yes, I go after what I want and make my goals become a reality, but more importantly, I fake it until I make it.
Throughout the past three years working and learning from different professionals, there’s one very important lesson I’ve learned - Google is your best friend. Want to find an internship at an agency in Center City? Google. Looking for a part-time job? Google. Looking for an on-campus job? Google - or (pro tip) actually read those listserv emails, there are some pretty unique opportunities in those emails that you ignore. My point is, while it might look like I “have my life together” I could not have done it without my friend, Google.
The first step to “having your life together” is to just go for opportunities. Google an agency you’re interested in and see if they are looking for interns. If they are - apply, the worst that can happen is you don’t get the position but at least you tried. If they’re not looking for an intern, connect with the person who has the job you want and ask for an informational interview, not only will this make them remember you - you’ll stand out when a position is open. If you’re worried about not having enough experience or knowledge, apply or contact the agency anyway and make it clear that you are willing to learn whatever it takes to be successful in the role you want. At the end of the day, if you’re not willing to try new things, teach yourself or put yourself out there, you’re not going to get what you want.
Step two, take classes you’re interested in. This might seem like common sense, but believe me, when you are in a class you thoroughly enjoy, you will perform better than taking a class you despise (sorry gen ed’s). Not only will taking classes you enjoy make school go by faster, but you’ll also perform better and most likely will talk about what you’re learning with your friends making it seem like you know a lot more than you might actually do.
Step three, talk about what you’re doing but keep it to a minimum. Share your internship experiences with those around you and what you do there but don’t give all the details away. Not only does this entice people to want to know more about your position, but there honestly might just be some things you cannot say because of client confidentiality. People, specifically other students with similar career goals want to hear about your internships in case they are applying for a position with a company you have worked for. Talking about your experience and accomplishments is not bragging, it’s sharing what you have done and can ultimately help others with connections and insights into companies. Realizing this and understanding this takes a while - I would know, even today I try not to discuss my experience because the last thing I want people to feel is intimated.
Step four, dress better than you feel. This super random step might seem irrelevant, but trust me if you change up your outfit one day to jeans, booties and a t-shirt, people tend to think you know your stuff because you “dressed up” for class. While I rarely show up to class in jeans and with makeup on (I treasure the days I can just wear athleisure clothes all day), the days I do, I automatically feel more productive (weird I know) and people do take notice. Just two weeks ago, I showed up to class wearing a hoodie and my hair in a bun and my friend asked if I was okay because she has never seen me in public like that. Dressing better than you feel will not only help you fake feeling more productive or happy but it also gives people the illusion that you might actually have your life together.
In all seriousness, no one knows what they are doing. Not your neighbor, not your roommate and not the person sitting next to you in class - and if they do, that’s great! But don’t stress or worry about not knowing what you want to do with your life or not having enough experience, things take time to come together and everything will work out in the end. Faking it until you make it is much more common than you probably think - when I landed my first agency internship, I had never written a pitch, press release or created a media list before, however, instead of backing out, I took the initiative to look up examples and build my skills from there. I never faked not knowing how to create those materials, but there was A LOT of google searches and questions that were asked when I needed to complete tasks for my boss. Eventually, you’ll realize that along the way of faking it, you made it and once that realization is there, you will be unstoppable.
This blog post was written by Allison Eckel, Director of Social Media.