The Career Fair–A Humbling Experience

Today was a day I was waiting for. A day in which I could proudly strut my stuff around the gym on campus, flashing my exceptional resume to my possible future employers, and wowing them with my knowledge and charisma….

The career fair.

Yet when I walked through those double doors, a folder full of resumes in hand, things seemed to change. Here I was, standing among several rows of future employers, most of which already had people talking with them.

Competition…

I reviewed my list of people present, and went first to an organization I was most familiar with, an event planning agency in St. Louis. Almost fluently, I delivered all the information I knew about them, how my experience relates to their company, et cetera, et cetera.

I guess the advice I got on networking is actually working…

Then I started milling about, jumping from table to table, trading my resume for promotional brochures and fliers about internships.

Wait….INTERNSHIPS?!

Not me. No way! I have waaaaaay more experience than a bunch of my colleagues. I deserve a full-time job immediately after I graduate in May. I should have these people crawling over each other to hire me into their communications department!

Here’s the thing: these are all messages that I’ve gotten from other people. I’ve heard so much positive feedback on the work I’ve done, and how professional I am, and how great I am to work with. In return, however, I developed an air of cockiness and overconfidence, which typically is not the way I act, especially in front of future business contacts.

As I talked to more and more employers, something became very clear to me: this job market sucks right now. There are opportunities out there for me, they might just not be (a) exactly what I’m looking for, (b) within St. Louis or (c) paid.

I’m not going to lie when I say that I am extremely proud of my resume. Everything listed required hard work and dedication, and about 90% of those were unpaid. I have tweaked and prodded and poked at this thing to ensure that I had it in tip-top shape.

Yet even through the hard work and diligence I put into polishing this piece of paper, it is still no guarantee of a job. Ever. I always knew the job market was in a slump; I could turn to any news source for that information. Yet it never truly hit me until I actually started seeking employment.

This experience has humbled me. Sure, a full time job would be ideal, but what’s another internship going to do? It certainly won’t hurt me, that’s for sure. Even if it means getting a part-time job serving tables, at least I know I’ll be getting the experience that, one day, will pay off in the form of a full-time job.

So by the end of my time spent at the career fair, my attitude had changed. Though I am still actively seeking a full-time job for after I graduate, having any opportunity to do what I love while gaining experience is perfect for me. With this new mindset, I will continue to do what I know I do best, and maintain the confidence in myself that has allowed me to partake in these experiences…

…even if it means without pay.

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Making Tolerance Trendy

Last week on Friday, I woke up extra early so I could be one of the first to listen to Lady Gaga’s new single, “Born this Way.” Though I’ve never been the biggest “monster,” I still wanted to see if this new song could top all the awesome singles released this year, like Avril’s “What the Hell,” Rihanna’s “S&M” and (best of all) Britney’s “Hold it Against Me,” whose video premieres today.

(Sidenote: I’m really excited for this video. Just sayin’.)

As I listened intently through my earphones plugged into my laptop, I started to enjoy the sound of “Born this Way.” It had a 90’s Eurodance feel, and an empowering dance anthem sound. She throws in lines about ethnicity (some politically incorrect…ruh roh) and sexuality, saying that no matter who you are, you are “born this way.”

Here’s the thing: I understand what Gaga is trying to do. As a woman who has made a name for herself as multiculturally sensitive, outspoken, and tolerant, she feels compelled to push universal acceptance of everyone onto the radio waves. And she has succeeded. Her message is clear and now in the ears of the millions who simply turn on their radios.

Maybe those who hear this song will begin to understand the importance of accepting everyone. Maybe they will understand that we are all just human beings, roaming this planet together, trying to live our lives just as well as the next guy. Maybe this is the start to actual equal rights for everyone.

But what I want to know is, why does it take a musician to get this message across?

A major problem across our nation is that a lot of people do not get educated on tolerance and acceptance at an early age. Having grown up in a small town myself, I can speak from first-hand experience. All I ever knew was a white, heterosexual, Christian community. I rarely saw any non-white people in my town, and anyone non-Christian was scorned and forced to keep to himself. It wasn’t until I started college that I was educated on diversity and multicultural sensitivity. I like to think I’m one of the lucky ones, who managed to escape without having my mind clouded by a community that promotes disdain and discrimination against people who are “different.”

Diversity, throughout many schools in our nation, is not an essential part of the curriculum. Students end up graduating without any knowledge or understanding of people unlike them. I don’t know how do they plan to get professional jobs if they don’t know anything about the people they will be working with.

So when a big-name artist like Lady Gaga comes out with a song about accepting everybody for who they are, what does that say? It says that the only way we can even begin to open our minds about diversity is through the mainstream media because our everyday society fails to do so.

Parents need to teach tolerance to their children at an early age. Avoiding conversations with children about why people are different only breeds more intolerance, and in turn leaves another generation behind in understanding diversity. Sure, it’s awkward, but it’s the awkward conversations that open the doors for children to explore the world.

It’s not going to kill you to explain that some boys like boys and some girls like girls. The world isn’t going to blow up if you tell your child there are people in this world who speak different languages. Quit skating around the truth with your children and just answer their questions honestly. You expect honesty from your children; shouldn’t it be mutual?

Our society puts too much importance on mainstream entertainment. We invest more of our time in entertaining ourselves than educating. Though Gaga makes great use of her art to combine entertainment and education, it’s pathetic that she had to do it in the first place.

It’s time to grow up and get used to the fact that we are in a diverse society.
Just because you don’t understand a group of people, doesn’t mean you’re better than they.
Even if you’re certain you’ll never meet a particular type of person in the future, it won’t kill you to educate yourself on that person’s life. You never know, you might find a lot of similarities.

Here’s a start: You’re both human.
Maybe it’s time to start treating each other as such.