Soundtrack for this blog post: "Found a Job" by Talking Heads
Hello my dear readers, it’s Alex here to tell you about how Olin helped me get a job AND kick imposter syndrome to the curb.
I’ll start by being honest: I’ve always been a little insecure about not having had a job. I never worked in high school, even while my friends were building up their bank accounts, resumes, and general #grit at places like Subway, Publix (Florida’s favorite grocery store), and HPCC Systems. Once I got to Olin, I was among people who had already worked at actual engineering firms, startups, and international schools in high school! I’m of the opinion that you should live life at your own pace, and that your occupation (or lack thereof) shouldn’t define your value, but I felt immature for choosing to stay home when I could have been “adulting”.
The great thing about Olin is that there is a lot of support and resources for the many students who want to get started working over the summers. In particular, a lot of summer jobs offered to Oliners are paid internships, which means that you’re adequately compensated for your time, even as a first year student. The Post-Graduate Planning (career services) team helped me a lot with constructing a resume, and they were receptive to my needs and values. This year PGP hosted resume and interview workshops, a practice career fair, then an actual career fair, and during the process some of my friends landed summer positions in their first year, first semester. Wow! Though some companies don’t like to hire first-year students, many can and do, and others make exceptions for passionate candidates.
I didn’t get anything lined up during the career fair process, but I was still figuring out what I wanted to do. For me, I wasn’t sure how I felt about working in a large, extremely tech-oriented company. I’ve always been an artist-engineer and I wanted to foster that wherever I ended up. Then, I heard about Olin’s Sketch Model program.
Sketch Model has three main action items that bring arts enrichment to Olin (check them out here!), but the one that was important to me was the summer Arts+Action Fellowship. Through the Mellon Foundation’s donation, four Olin students can receive funding to intern with arts organizations over the summer, learning about the world outside of STEM. And that’s great, because the sentiment I received a lot as someone straddling arts and engineering was, “Why do art when you’ll get so much more money as an engineer?” The Sketch Model fellowship gives me the leeway to experiment with my options.
I had to apply first to get the Sketch Model grant, and then find places to intern at. So, I still got all the meaty job hunting experience: lots of Googling, emailing, and phone calling. And, yes, a lot of rejection and ghosting. But every step of the way, the Sketch Model team was helping me to figure out what I wanted, how to seek it out, and in general how to build more confidence in my abilities.
The thing I realized through this process is that I wasn’t any less talented for not having had a job before; I was just someone with different experiences from my peers. At Olin, people want to see you succeed. They want you to believe in the things that make you your wonderful self: whether it’s who you are as an engineer, an artist, or anything else. And thanks to the wonderful people and opportunities at Olin, I’m going to be working this summer doing something I care deeply about: educating kids about arts and technology. It’s not a high-tech job, it’s not necessarily cutting-edge, but it’s what I want and I couldn’t be more excited to get started.
At Olin, you’ll get a lot of opportunities to work on the things you love, in and outside of class. And while it can feel daunting to start looking for jobs if you’ve never done it before, I’m here to say that there’s an incredibly supportive community here for you--not just if you want to pursue a classic engineering path, but for anything outside that too. And if you’re not interested or able to get a job, there’s no shame in that either! I know a number of students who will be spending their summers home, and that’s okay too. But for those of you who want to get started with a job or internship and don’t know how, there are so many people here at Olin to help. And whatever you’re doing, I hope you all have a great summer!
For more information about Post-Graduate Planning at Olin, check out the PGP section of our website: http://www.olin.edu/collaborate/careers-graduate-studies/
Banner photo is album art from Talking Heads album "More Songs About Buildings and Food" (https://ultimateclassicrock.com/talking-heads-more-songs-about-buildings-and-food/)