Applying for Failure

Hey all,

I applied to the State Department my very first semester at AU, made it through the first round but eventually got rejected.  I had expected that, but the process of just applying proved worthwhile.  It forced me to sit down and think about what sort of skills I had to offer to potential employers (and as a Freshman I didn’t have many), and then it focused me to take steps to try to get some valuable skills.  I highly recommend applying to internships, jobs, scholarships, and grants even if you think you won’t get them for a couple of reasons:

  1. You definitely won’t get it if you don’t apply
  2. The process forces you to think about your future academic and career path, which helps you to decide what you really want out of life
  3. Applying shows you’ve got spunk and ambition that won’t go unnoticed by your professors, friends, and parents
  4. If you apply to enough things, you’ll get at least one of them

So many of the people on campus with the really cool internships at the best think-tanks, government agencies, NGOs, and corporate firms got their start by applying to almost anything that seemed to match their general interests.  They got a chance at some random place, gained some experience, and then applied somewhere another rung up on the ladder. 

Classes and a top-notch GPA are definitely important, but most places I have applied to have focused on “work experience.”  They don’t mean waitressing or being a lifeguard either.  Firms and organizations really want people who know their way around an office environment–let’s face it, as much as the advisors fight for ‘substantial’ internships, even they recognize that such menial tasks as scanning and faxing will always be part of an internship.  Most of all, they want to hire people who are passionate about the organization they are working for.  Don’t lie and say you’re obsessed with the Dept of Energy, for instance, but do explain how fascinated you are with coastal wind energy farms and their ability to power the Eastern seaboard.  If you fail, you fail.  DC offers us a plethora of opportunities, so hop back up on that saddle and try, try again.