Career Advice From A Sister

Just received an email saying that you failed the last job interview you went for? gradmalaysia’s Benny Razali received 50 of those emails in her early working days; and she has a few things to share with you.
Benny Razali
Writer, gradmalaysia.com
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Take me as an estranged elder sister, one that you barely recognise from the many years of being away from home. One who faced more failures than successes in life; yet somehow managed to weather through the storms of life. And, I’m here to tell you that things are going to be okay. 

Don’t limit your options to your degree’s scope

To make this more relatable to you, let me tell you  a little story about myself. I’m an English graduate –  major in Professional Communication; from a Malaysian public university. During my years in university, I mastered various types of communications; especially in writing methods – and I assumed I could dive right into a writer’s position as soon as I received my graduation scroll. Curating content? It should be relatively simple, right?  

Oh, how wrong I was. My confidence in my writing skills (which, by the way, is still a work in progress) took a hit when I failed writing tests – interview after interview. I felt extremely dejected. Then came one interview session, just as I was about to give up; I met a senior writer who was also being interviewed for the same position. A couple of minutes into the conversation, he told me that he was an engineering graduate who delved into the world of Human Resource for a couple of years, doubling as a freelance writer at the same time. (He was marvellous, by the way.) He was offered the job position, but I, on the other hand, was gifted the greatest revelation. It dawned on me that we often choose a degree that may lead us to our desired career path, but life has its own little surprises that may divert the course of our journey. That was the day that I learnt the importance of keeping an open mind to new opportunities because the right opportunity will present itself to you when you’re prepared enough to handle it.

Don’t try to achieve anyone else's expectations but your own

You may find yourself heaving a sigh, feeling all embarrassed from only being offered internship positions that pay you pennies, while your friends are getting great offers from big companies. I’ll tell you what you’re doing wrong – you’re comparing your self-expectations with the achievements of others. Trust that I know that you are, because that’s exactly what I did when I was in your shoes. But here’s the thing: the hustle is real, for everybody. No one is excluded. But most of it is usually done behind-the-scenes. Your friends might have prepared themselves for their desired job; you probably just didn’t see the amount of blood, sweat and tears that were shed in the process of it all. I’m not telling you to not expect anything out of yourself, but instead of comparing it to others, work harder on actually achieving those expectations. 

Remember, the working world is just another learning level

When I finally got my first job as a writer in a Public Relations company, I had spent almost an entire year working for several low-paying part-time jobs and writing freelance. I turned my brain off the moment I sent in my final thesis; and it was an extremely unhealthy mindset to have. Turns out, I have to study much broader topics now as a working individual than during my glory days as a student. It wasn’t a couple of months before I understood that having a job means you have a lot more to learn. Your knowledge bank will always need replenishing – the only difference is that you’re being paid for it. 

 

Every journey differs from another; your setbacks will be totally different from mine. But if you happen to read this after a good cry from being rejected by a company or simply from a series of no call-backs, just remember to be patient and to persevere. Though we’re journeying through life on different timelines, you and I are no different; so if I could get through it, so can you. Fix your résumé and cover letter, dust your suit and hang it up neatly before your next call of adventure. The right opportunity would come for you, and when it does, put on your shoes and start the journey with confidence and a hunger for new knowledge. I’ll be waiting for you at my pit stop to cheer you on.