I began the spring semester of my junior year with two goals: 1) pass my classes, and 2) get an internship at an advertising agency. The former was pretty obvious; however, the latter possessed a special kind of pressure that has been growing greater with each passing year. As a freshman, internships were mentioned every now and then – it was something to think about but nothing to worry about. No pressure.
As the semesters rolled by, the word “internship” grew more and more menacing as it seemed to drift throughout the halls and jump out at me around every corner. A successful start to a career appeared to hinge heavily on the quantity and quality of internships students obtained. No pressure…
I was both excited and terrified of them. On one hand, internships were opportunities to be creative out in the real world. On the other hand, they were opportunities for rejection. Either way, I did whatever I could to construct a path to being a creative intern at Grey, Hornall Anderson, or any one of the other advertising agencies I’d been learning about in Gaylord College. I carefully crafted a creative résumé, built an online portfolio, worked as a writer and graphic designer for various OU organizations, and – most importantly – applied like crazy.
While I wasn’t incredibly confident in the “me” I was putting out to the working world at the time, it hit me that I had to practice and apply anywhere I could. Even if the majority of the agencies wouldn’t respond, and even if I realized after five applications that I’d been way too cheesy in my cover letter intros, practicing and seeing myself as someone who could succeed eased my fears.
One day, I took some time in between ad agency applications to breathe, freak out, eat a snack, and take a social media break. I often visited Facebook to kill time, so as I scrolled through my News Feed and thought about where to apply next, I had the simple, life-changing thought: “Doesn’t Facebook have internships?” Sure enough, I discovered they do and found they had one for which I, amazingly enough, met all the requirements. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to practice applying with no real pressure to expect a response.
I applied for a Content Strategy internship – one that called for a background and skill set in words, design, communication, and problem solving (my passions). As I filled out the application, I fantasized about it actually being something I could get. I couldn’t even picture it. It seemed so unlikely that I nearly abandoned it and went back to scrolling through my friends and their daily lives. However, I reminded myself that it was good application practice regardless, submitted the application, and then absolutely did not give it a second thought – it was, for sure, a one in a million chance.
The moment I actually attempted to process it as a real possibility was outside my marketing class on a Thursday afternoon. I was eating a snack, waiting for class to start, and checking my email. Tucked within some spam and general university notifications was a message from a Facebook recruiter asking if I’d be able to do a phone interview. I was sure it was a scam, but I accepted, set a time, and prepared to do my best.
During the phone interview, I was prepared for what was to come. After the first interview, I had to complete an assignment. I made sure to go above and beyond what was directed – meaning, I proofread and edited 30 times over. I also asked close friends to look through it and give their perspectives. After all, it mattered how I was able to communicate my directions to others, especially since I was attempting to get an internship with the people that basically run communication in the 21st century (although, care for communication goes far in a lot of industries). Lastly, when it suggested the inclusion of visuals, I made sure to do so with as much professionalism as possible. I put all of myself and how I think into the assignment – sparing no effort or detail.
This seemed to do the trick because my assignment was approved, which sent me to the final round: the Skype interviews. This is where I was sure I’d be dropped out of the running, and if I was, I was honestly grateful for even making it that far. Despite my nervousness and astonishment of where I was in the process, I prepared to, once again, do my best no matter what. To do this, I researched the interviewers as well as anything I could find on the career pages about the company’s culture, mission, and background. More personally, I also got dressed in of my favorite “professional-meets-unique” outfits and reserved a room in Gaylord Hall for a more suitable backdrop than my messy kitchen. Additionally, I slept well, ate a healthy breakfast, and rocked out to some of my favorite music beforehand to get all the jitters out.
Lastly, right before the call, I took deep breaths. The pressure to get an internship was pounding in my head and everything felt like my future was riding on those interviews. At times, it felt as if I’d be lost if that whole recruiting process fell through. But I realized, just like the application, that this was ultimately a great opportunity to practice. No matter what, I would come out of those interviews, the assignment, and even the phone interview having learned things about myself and how to present myself to the working world. Somehow, this made the word “internship” way less scary and the interviews way more exciting.
Fast forward to today and, as I sit at my desk as a full-time Content Strategist and look out at this colorful and bustling Facebook office, I think about how thankful I am for the pressure of internships, as well as the lessons I’ve learned in overcoming it. This type of pressure presented itself many times throughout my internship last summer – through the process to get hired at the end, the pressure to find other opportunities if I didn’t, and the general day-to-day pressure to constantly be a person worthy of the internship in the first place. I’m very blessed to be a part of a company that constantly acknowledges those pressures and helps interns use and overcome them. Because, ultimately, so much work we all do that faces potential failure and/or rejection is always an opportunity to learn. Facebook has helped me grow more and more confident in this “failing forward” mentality as I do work in a company that is constantly impacting the way the world shares and communicates. No pressure.
Beth Anne Davis
Content Strategist | Facebook