Let me start by stating that I have never fished in my life, and this particular post has nothing to do with fishing (well, kinda). I want to focus a bit on opportunities. Within the past month, I’ve had numerous conversations with friends, professors and various other professionals about careers, internships, etc.
The most shocking thing that has come out of these conversations (particularly from my fellow peers) is fear:
Fear of an uncertain future.
Fear of failure.
Fear of being denied or told NO!
It’s summer time, meaning many students just graduated (Congratulations!) and are looking for jobs or applying to Graduate schools, Juniors/Sophomores are looking for internships and Freshmen are possibly vying for a leadership position on their campus or in their organization. Generally speaking, everyone is looking for brand new, promising opportunities.
However, we might avoid applying to some of these opportunities because we’re deterred by acceptance rates, prestige, “wasting our time”, laziness, and being told……
Let’s be human for a few seconds here. No one likes being told “No.” No one willingly applies to something with the thought in their mind, “Gee, I know they’re going to say no, but I’ll do it anyway!” That doesn’t happen.
Though, the question I want to pose to you, the readers, is what is there to lose from applying to anything?
What do you have to lose from applying to a scholarship? A fellowship? An internship? A job? The worst thing, literally the worst thing that can happen, is that you receive a “No.” That’s it, that’s all.
Now, what do you have to gain from applying to these things? Everything.
When we are told “No” it’s discouraging. We get knocked down and believe it’s futile to put our “vulnerable” selves out there again just to be denied once again. Sitting back and hoping an opportunity comes knocking at your door sounds much more appealing after initial “failure.”
I’m a huge believer in minor setbacks for major comebacks.
I’ll use a personal example to demonstrate this. I applied for something known as the Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship, a very prestigious award administered by the U.S. Department of State for students that want to become Foreign Service Officers. The fellowship provides professional development for the selected students, as well as providing tuition costs for Senior year of your Undergraduate degree and one full paid year of graduate school, along with a guaranteed spot in the Foreign Service.
Each year, 20 students are selected for this award after undergoing a rigorous application session and appearing for an in-person interview and writing exam. I was chosen as one of the 40 finalists who appeared in D.C. for the in-person interview and writing examination.
Two days after the interview, the 20 selectees were announced and I discovered I was not selected for the fellowship. Essentially, “No.”
The news was, initially, a bit saddening. It was one of those “I came this far for nothing?!” feelings. However, the experience I gained from the interview/exam along with the other extraordinary finalists I met during the process was well worth it. I put this experience in my pocket and sought out other opportunities.
I was very blessed to have been selected for the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program (the 15 selected students are known as “Rangel Scholars”), a similar program to the aforementioned fellowship.
Getting back to the title of the this post, fishermen cast their lines into uncertain waters, not knowing what they will (or won’t) reel in. They may not catch anything that day, they may get something they were not looking for, or they might get exactly what they want. Regardless, they allow themselves to take this chance.
Let’s all embrace our inner fisherman and advance bravely into this bold world.
Until next time,