“And even if I hate it, the experience will look great on my resume.”
Since the shift back to in-person school, I’ve lost count of the number of times my friends and I have said something similar to one another. As sophomores experiencing on-campus life for the first time, it’s easy to become caught up in doing everything and anything that comes our way. About a month into school, however, I had a revealing conversation with several roommates that led me to a realization—don’t simply resume chase. Remember to chase your passion as well.
“At least once a week I have those scary thoughts right as I’m falling asleep that I’m not doing enough, I’m not good enough,” said Madeline Fischer, a GW sophomore majoring in International Affairs (IA) and Economics.
Fischer’s anxieties were familiar to me. I am Blog Manager for TWN-GW, as well as a Headlines reporter for GW-TV’s Capitol Crossfires show. While I am extremely passionate about both of these positions—each of them relates to my longtime love of writing and my career aspirations in journalism—I was not so sure about myself at the start of the semester. All around me were classmates and friends who seemed to have more leadership positions, internships, and courses. Although I’m not usually one to compare my work to others’, I couldn’t help but feel that itch in the back of my mind: maybe I’m not doing enough.
But I was not alone in these feelings, even in my immediate friend group. I interviewed Fischer and another of my suitemates, Tappy Lung, after our initial conversation. Our discussion led me to develop three key points for balancing your passions with the anxieties of resume building.
1. Be open to trying new things, but don’t feel pressured to commit.
We’ve all heard it a million times: college is your chance to try new things. The danger with that, of course, is feeling you should commit to something even as you’re just exploring. As ambitious women who value leadership, it can be tough not to perceive the pull to apply to lead positions when they come our way.
“I’m learning that it’s okay not to do everything,” said Fischer, who often tries out student organizations her friends participate in. “I’ve gone to people’s org events and didn’t go back.”
When it comes to trying something new, always remember that it is up to you whether or not you will pursue an activity, organization, or job in the future. A good check-in is asking yourself after an event or day of work: how did that make me feel?
The more you are conscious of this, the more you will be able to narrow your focus and get to the things you truly love.
“If someone...in a job interview asks me why I joined these orgs,” said Fischer, “I will have very personal, very specific answers.”
2. Don’t compare yourself to others. Your only “competition” is yourself.
When narrowing your focus, it can be easy to lose sight of what you truly want when so many people appear to be pursuing activities and careers that excite them.
Lung, who is a sophomore majoring in IA and seeking to add a double major in Political Communications, expressed how she’ll often find herself wishing she had an internship on Capitol Hill, which many politically-oriented GW students pursue. “I’m not even that interested in domestic politics. But sometimes you get caught up in the rare-air of things.”
Even though it can feel natural to compare your achievements to other peoples’, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, you should only be measuring your accomplishments against your personal abilities.
“When you’re writing a paper...judge it against your other writings, not against how you think someone else is going to do in the class,” Fischer provided as an example.
3. ...But you can still be supportive of and motivated by those around you.
Both Fischer and Lung are part of GW’s Women’s Leadership Program (WLP), which shares similar goals with TWN in terms of preparing college women for their careers through leadership and networking opportunities. While WLP is usually just a first-year program, Fischer and Lung opted to live in an affinity unit with many of their WLP classmates from last year.
For both students, living in a community of ambitious women has been an encouraging experience.
“There’s people who last year when we were online I’d idolize over their Linkedin pages,” said Lung. “But then you meet them in real life...and they end up being some of the most supportive people.”
“It’s a great motivator also just to watch other people around you succeed,” added Fischer.
This is an experience TWN members can relate to. At the imposter syndrome workshop in September, for instance, I was amazed by how such accomplished women had the same insecurities as I did. By talking about these worries with fellow collegiate and pre-professional women whom we admire and respect, we can recognize that we are not alone.
When it comes to balancing interests and career goals, TWN creates an excellent opportunity to practice each of these three points. Many speaker events feature women in various fields, enabling us to assess our interest in a given career path by hearing first-hand experiences. Additionally, many positions within TWN, including internships and chapter positions, allow us to gain experience and learn if we are passionate enough to commit to a given field. And of course, the TWN community provides a space for ambitious women to share their concerns with one another and realize they are not alone in their feelings. That, in my opinion, is the power of female-driven spaces.
Feature image retrieved from unsplash.com.