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What Happens When Your Dream Job Says “No”

This past week has been a professional roller coaster for me. I should start by saying that I received an internship this past semester that I wasn’t expecting to necessarily like, but I’ve ended up loving. It focuses my two greatest passions, criminal justice and domestic violence awareness. As I graduate in less than 2 months, I’ve started thinking, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” As I was focusing on this question more and more, it seemed like the sky opened up. One of the people that I shadow at my internship asked me, ‘’Hey, are you applying for the job that’s opening up in May?” She proceeded to tell me that if I wanted to apply that I needed to talk to the supervisors as quickly as possible. I told her I was thinking about it and would want to wait another week and experience some other aspects of the job before I fully expressed interest. She told me that was a smart way to do it, to not jump into anything too quickly. The job wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies.


Three days after this happened, another employee asked if I was planning on applying for the job opening in May. “I have been thinking about it!” I exclaimed. Her face lit up, telling me she could see me succeeding in this job and that I would be a great fit for the office. I was completely smitten. Over the weekend I talked with my parents about what I should say when I went in to talk to the supervisor on Monday and if I should go ahead and bring my resume and cover letter to show just how interested I was. (I decided resume, no cover letter. I was just expressing interest, after all.) I was absolutely elated. I couldn’t believe that the people I worked with were as interested in me as I was in them. This was a program I could see myself succeed in and love for years to come.


It took me all day to work up the courage to speak with the supervisor. I had no idea why I was nervous. I was expressing interest. Interest that other people in the office seemed to have for me. At 4:30 in the afternoon I made my way to the supervisor’s office and asked if he had a few minutes to talk. He said “sure,” so I plopped down in front of his desk and in my most confident tone said; “I know there’s a position opening in May and I would love to know what I could do to be considered for the position.” To which the supervisor responded, “Not much.” I was dumbfounded but he didn’t let me miss a beat. He asked when I was graduating and I told him May. “We don’t really want to hire someone who just graduated. We’re looking for someone who has at least three years of experience in the field.”


The “at least three years of experience in the field” thing strikes again.


Trying to hide my disappointment, I said, “Oh, well I’m also looking into applying with X domestic violence shelter or X community center as well.” He told me those were great choices and now that I had such a great rapport with their program he would be more than happy to consider me in the future. Trying my absolute best not to sound desperate I bleated out, “I just never expected to love this job as much as I do. I have so much passion for this field and would love to work here in the future.” He smiled and told me he understood and could see that this was something I should work with in the future.


But I want to be considered now. This was the perfect scenario in my head. My co-workers saw something in me and I saw something in myself. Something that I’ve always thought of in my head but couldn’t place my finger on. A perfect blending of my two greatest passions, stripped away. I now have 8 weeks left in my internship, and I dread it. How embarrassing it is to want to be a catalyst for social change, with so much hope and power in your eyes and to be told, “No,” with the only explanation being “you don’t have enough experience.”


You feel hopeless when your dream job tells you “no,” but everything happens for a reason.

Just living my life one social inquiry at a time.
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