Staff List: Advice to get you through applications and interviews

We seem to have reached that time of the year when people begin applying for jobs and internships, a process that brings a wave of stress and anxiety along with it. Thus, the Student Life Editorial Board would like to share some advice we have been given throughout the years, in order to aid in alleviating the stress of the application process.

It might seem like everything is coming at you at once, and that if you don’t get your dream job or ideal internship now your entire life will be thrown off course, but we’re all still young. You have time to do a basic job for a few years, you have time to figure out what you want to do and you have time to change course. Very few people will leave college with their dream job, and if you’re not one of those people you still have time to find out what you want to do and pursue it.

—Josh Zucker, Associate Editor

The best career advice I can give is to not be scared to reach out to upperclassmen or alumni who are in the field you are interested in. I have spoken to so many alumni and older students who have been so kind, enthusiastic and eager to sit down and tell me all about their careers. Every time I meet someone new, I learn at least one tip or pearl of wisdom that I carry forward. For the most part, alumni are generally really excited and not at all intimidating—so take advantage of their years of wisdom!

—Ali Gold, Engagement Editor

The best career advice I have received was to “find my flow”. In Dr. Tim Bono’s “Psychology of Happiness” class, I learned that flow is whatever you do that feels right, that while you are doing it time seems to fall away and you are drawn into your task. Lose yourself when you talk to people? Find a career that revolves around that. Love the outdoors? Find a job that lets you be there. While yes, passion does not always lead to money, money does not always lead to happiness. Aiming for careers that cater to your flow can help you make your career a passion rather than just a job.

—Lauren Alley, Managing Editor

You may have been told that you’ll receive 1,000 “no”s before you get you get your first “yes.” And that’s true. But what no one told me when I began my first internship application process is that the most common response you’ll receive is radio silence. After submitting dozens of applications and getting no responses, I began to feel happy to receive a rejection, because it meant that at least my emails were going through. Don’t let the silence deter you. If you keep knocking on doors, eventually one will open.

—Jaden Satenstein, Senior Scene Editor

With respect to going through the application and interview process, a mentor once told me, “They want to hire you.” Particularly for those who find the interview stage of the hiring process to be extra intimidating—the people on the other end of the call or room want you to do well too. When framing the interview process with that piece of advice, I’ve started to look forward to interviewing with potential employers, because I can replace the feeling of “I have to prove myself” with the idea that my interest can speak for itself. In retrospect, that enthusiasm can speak volumes to employers.

—Emma Baker, Editor in Chief

The best career advice I’ve been given is to accept any job in your dream field no matter how small it is. For me, this means building connections in unconventional ways and getting experience and expertise in your field of choice without the pressure of a high-level position. People take notice of dedication and unique expertise.

—Elena Quinones, Editor in Chief

Especially during your freshman and sophomore year, it may seem like every one of your peers’ lives are teeming with internship, research and job opportunities in their dream field. And for some, that may be true. But the pressure to become successful and established in your field at 19 or 20 years old is simply undue. Real world experiences (read: awful, “character-building” jobs) provide just as many important life experiences and lessons as glamorous internships.

—Quincy Schmechel, Director of Special Projects

Some people have very clear-cut career paths, and others don’t. It can often be discouraging and intimidating to be surrounded by people who know exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going. But having a winding or wandering career path is valid, too, and it doesn’t mean that you’re any less successful. Allow yourself to be excited and inspired by the fact that there are a lot of options out there for you, rather than feeling overwhelmed by them.

— Olivia Szymanski, Senior Editor

You don’t have to automatically find a job in your career right out of college. Not everyone will immediately find their dream job or have the resources necessary to start a career. Finding the right fit can take time, so if you’re behind your friends on finding work, don’t get worried. Everyone works on their own timeframe and it will all work out in the end.

— Tyler Sabloff, Senior Forum Editor

Don’t let intimidation get you down. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the what-ifs and could-be’s, to the point where you can almost talk yourself out of a job before you even apply. Go into your applications with confidence; the worst that could happen is someone says no, in which case there’s a multitude of other places to apply.

— Kya Vaughn, Senior Forum Editor

Someone once told me to “be careful that the pursuit of perfect doesn’t keep you from experiencing the great.” I think this is applicable to all of us perfectionists out there searching for that one perfect job and trying to carve out a career in an industry that seems almost impossible to break into. Honestly, it comes down to passion and that work/life balance. Find what you love and interview the people in that field or even go and see people in the career of your choice to see if reality matches your vision of the job you want.

— Danielle Drake-Flam, Managing Editor

My grandmother has always told me to do what I’m good at and to do what makes me happy. I’ve been fortunate to belong to a family that doesn’t care that I’m not going into something inherently lucrative like medicine or law. They recognize that I, as an English major, am interested in writing and the arts: everything considered an “unsuitable career,” but it’s what I enjoy doing. They say if you follow your passion you’ll never work a day in your life, because you’ll love what you do so much that it won’t seem like a job. Finding what makes you excited to get up in the mornings may seem like a daunting task, but if you think about the things you love doing, it won’t seem so impossible.

— Sabrina Spence, Senior Cadenza Editor and Social Media Director

A reflection exercise we did at a Career Center workshop asked us to consider not just whether we liked or disliked a past job/internship, but specifically which parts/roles we liked or disliked. If your last internship had you both organizing events and managing a social media page, and you strongly preferred the former, keep that in mind when you’re looking for your next job. And be open to the fact that knowing what you want to do/can tolerate doing day in and day out might point you to a different industry than what you previously thought was the best fit.

— Jonah Goldberg, Copy Chief

Calm down. The best career advice I’ve ever received came from my mom. I had just quit my high school job and I was freaking out about how I was going to afford moving to college. My mom’s words to me: calm down. She encouraged me to figure out a solution to my problem, but not fret about it. The reason why I appreciate that advice is because it cuts both ways. When things are going poorly—when you receive a rejection or the field you thought it was your dream to work in turns out to be a bad fit—calm down and remember that it’s not the end of the world. When something is going well and you feel the urge to celebrate, calm down because there’s still work to be done. There’s another position to gun for or some way to make yourself a better person and employee. Looking at career prospects from a level-headed perspective will always be a valuable skill.

— Dorian DeBose, Senior Sports Editor

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.