Only having less than two years left at college, I habitually went on LinkedIn every day to look for inspiring stories from successful entrepreneurs to see how many times I appeared in weekly searches, and to find tips on how to prepare for an interview, which were quite useful because they helped me land on an internship for spring-summer 2021. As a matter of fact, it was the least desirable internship for me. I deliberately accepted a job related to e-commerce selling coffee beans and content marketing based in Hanoi, Vietnam, as I was mentally exhausted from being ghosted by almost all publishing and journalism agencies, both state-owned and private-owned, in Vietnam. Publishing and journalism are the fields I want to explore and pursue in the upcoming internships and after graduation.
My current internship is related to selling coffee and writing content for the product, which I sometimes felt like I was wasting my time. From my two previous internships also related to marketing and content writing, I know that at least two years after graduation, I do not intend to work in the marketing field. Instead, I intend to become a journalist, learning the nuts and bolts of journalism and news reporting, as I fell in love with this field while doing news reporting on campus and from my English classes.
Thus, I decided to go on LinkedIn every day to find tips on how I can be happier with my current job, and also to discover the intersectionality between content writing and journalism. However, instead of looking for these things, whenever my boss went out, I took this advantage to quickly scroll down LinkedIn’s news feed. During lunch break and after work, I checked jobs that were not even available in Vietnam non-stop and replied to posts that listed interview questions that top companies asked. Furthermore, I was bombarded with news that people were getting their dream internship in prestigious companies such as EY, and I felt insecure because no one would know my start-up, three-employee-sized (including myself), Hanoi-based company that doesn't have a LinkedIn profile, nor a portfolio. Furthermore, going on LinkedIn regularly and seeing my friends accepted to journalism internships heightened my crippling fear of falling behind. The constant self-doubt and the feeling of not being professionally flourished enough that followed from my incessant hunts on LinkedIn overwhelmed me and ultimately persuaded me to challenge myself not to go online on this site regularly in March 2021.
In order to follow the challenge, I deleted the LinkedIn app on my phone as the first step. As a result, I was able to not go on the app during lunch break. I was determined to enjoy my break in a peaceful state, although admittedly sometimes I was tempted to log in using my laptop. I carried a novel with me to work and read it during the lunch break, which is something that I usually did while I was still on-campus in college. I’ve been reading Bombay Baby by Leela Soman. I once again felt the joy of reading books, rereading the details that I might have missed, and wondering what would happen to the characters next as I closed the book and turned on my desktop again to get back to work. Ultimately, I find that there are other things in life that can bring me joy, not just the job.
[bf_image id="jnchwfwpvx6vp9gfx6rqrpv"] In the second week, I stopped taking advantage of my supervisor’s absence to go on LinkedIn and focused more on doing the main tasks, such as writing product descriptions and brainstorming content for a product advertisement campaign. As I invested more dedication to my daily tasks, instead of wishing “Ok, just one more product description, then I can go on LinkedIn again,” I learned that I can find how the skills I gain in daily tasks of this job can benefit to my potential career, not just in journalism but also in other that might come across on my own. Brainstorming ideas on writing descriptions for the sweet acidity with a hint of caramel and nuts of Catimor coffee, I was reminded of when I learned appealing to senses. Hence, writing this description would be beneficial if I happened to write articles about food in the future, a very popular topic in Vietnamese journalism.
Focusing on my daily tasks distracts me from thinking about the advantages that my peers learn from their internship and the fear of falling behind my peers who are accepted to journalism internships. Acknowledging these insecurities, I realize that I need to discuss with my internship supervisor whenever I’m readily comfortable, about them and share my current knowledge in journalism so that we can help gain transferable skills.
The feelings of frustration, exhaustion and insecurity after rejection from a dream internship or job are undoubtedly overwhelming, and the most triggering thing for me was the constant worry of lagging behind while my friends were racing ahead in building their journalistic careers. Nevertheless, this LinkedIn detox challenge has allowed me to be mindful about the other internship opportunity that I received, helping me reflect on the notion of focusing on what being a content marketer can offer me as a journalist, rather than what I lack.
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