Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I love quotes, and I certainly appreciate Albert Einstein. However, in this case, I have to disagree with Mr. Einstein. There are no blanket statements I can throw out to debunk his definition, but I know from personal experience the value of trying something several times until I get the results I want. For instance, I am the director of El Pomar’s Summer Internship Program, but believe it or not, my first experience with the Internship did not go quite as I had planned. I first heard about El Pomar’s Internship three years ago when I applied to the program as a sophomore in college. I had worked with various nonprofits and loved the idea of serving my home state. El Pomar’s Internship program seemed like an amazing, natural next step. Although I believed I would fit fabulously into the program, I did not get the job.
Naturally, I was hurt and embarrassed. I saw the Internship fitting so clearly into my path, and I felt disheartened that I did not achieve a goal I cared so deeply about. Despite my disappointment, I made 2012 a great year. I charged into my junior year, I volunteered like crazy, planned numerous successful service projects, and studied abroad. In that year, I learned and grew more than I expected. In committing myself to service learning, I became a leader in my community and on campus. After some time, my embarrassment about not getting a job with El Pomar dulled, and I began to reflect on my experience with El Pomar’s interview process. I thought critically about what I did well, and what I could do better.
2013 rolled around, and when the time came to apply, I decided to try again. Renewed determination replaced any embarrassment or disappointment I felt a year before. I returned a more confident, mature, and self-aware candidate. This time, I would leave nothing on the table. I worked hard on my application, and during my interview, I answered each question genuinely.
In short, I got the job, and I had an awesome summer working with leaders in philanthropy. El Pomar only added to my growth as a leader and young professional. I loved working for El Pomar so much, I applied for the Fellowship, and last July I returned to direct the Internship program. To say I care about the Internship and believe it is a meaningful experience might be an understatement.
My goal in telling this story is for prospective candidates to understand the value of applying for anything, whether or not it works out. Although my plans didn’t unfold as I expected, I learned how to interview better, write an eye-catching resume, and how to leverage my school’s career center and the support it offers freely. Perhaps most importantly, I learned how to
dust myself off, put pride aside, and really go for what I want.
It is humbling and exciting to throw ourselves into pursuing a goal, and we will gain something, no matter what happens. So apply, apply, apply! You will grow, and you will find yourself miles ahead of your peers simply because you pursued exciting and challenging opportunities in your undergrad years. Though applying for jobs, internships, scholarships, or grants can be hard and uncomfortable, it is worth the risk. Putting ourselves out there is only the beginning of the growth to come, and there are almost always returns, even if they are not immediately recognizable. With all due respect to Albert Einstein, life requires us to try again and again, but with intention, patience, and tenacity we emerge stronger, smarter, and more prepared.
For more information on the Internship and how to apply visit: www.elpomar.org/internship