I was recently invited to join a series of panels on student success at my university. I have, unfortunately, chosen not to participate because they overlap with some of my working times and interning is my priority at this moment, but I've been thinking a lot about what I would say on those panels. I was recommended to the organizers by one of my bosses due to my experience. Most of our success stories stem from our performing arts department (Hey, Bardley Cooper!) or our business school who sign ridiculous entry level contracts months--sometimes even years--before they even graduate and incite envy in us all. That's not how arts industries work, you know?
Because of this, they don't really feature many English majors on these panels. My boss looked at me and was like, "you belong up there." So far I have had 7 internships in 6 semesters, I have studied abroad for 5 months, I have kept and advanced in an on-campus job for three years, am working on my thesis and honors requirements, and I am somehow managing to do all of this while graduating a semester early in December and remaining a Top 100 Scholar at my University.
I'll be honest, I never felt so dang proud of myself until someone else pointed out my accomplishments to me. And then, you know, I realized I am absolutely insane because I willingly put myself through all of this I repeat: I. Am. Insane. Driven, but insane.
I don't really know what I would do on these panels, either. My advice typically stems from "be yourself and show them how much you want this" to "seek out opportunities where you think you belong." You know, the obvious and relatively cliche stuff that is entirely true and has gotten me this far. The "nowhere to go but up" attitude that I have adopted to get me by.
And, I suppose, I would share about my anxiety. Before I start a new job of any kind, especially an internship, I tend to stay at home and become a nervous/excited mess. I don't get a lot of sleep, I prepare myself mentally, and I go in as an awkward mess. Seriously, I am the most awkward person ever and I don't think I'll ever fully overcome this. My first day, even if I know my bosses and love them to pieces, is always me hiding my anxiety because it's something new...a new group of people to impress with new tasks. Sure, they saw something in me and hired me for a reason, but that doesn't calm my nerves.
This has happened a lot over the past few years because I've had so many internships, and it doesn't get any easier for me. I don't think it ever will. Because, in the end, I think my nervous anxiety is a good thing. It reminds me just how much I wanted this, and makes me want to impress everyone even more. It never allows me to walk in comfortable, it forces me to carve out my niche of comfort as I grow with the company. It keeps me on my toes...ready, willing, and able to try new things. It never lets my ego grow because each position is like the first all over again. I am confident in my abilities, but that doesn't lessen any anxiety about the unknown. It does, however, make it fun to explore the unknown and gain more skills.
Do I wish I was less awkward? Sure. But, I suppose, it's simply who I am, and I like who I am, even if I am an insane, anxious, nervous wreck every time I start a new job. Just own it.
Does anyone else get really anxious when starting a new position? How do you handle it? I just kinda roll on in and take it one step at a time.