When I received the email, I had been waiting for, the one of dreamed of, the one I thought was never going to come, I did not know how to react. That chilly Arizona night where my phone made a ding and the preview of the email said “Congratulations Andrew”. With glee, I jumped up—having not read the full email—and started to frantically tell all my family. I had made it into the Arizona State University’s Capital Scholars Program!
Reflecting on that joyous night, I remember thinking that that was the hardest step in this whole process; getting accepted. That since I got into the selective program, it was going to be smooth sailing ahead. For, if I could go back and time and tell myself, “your glee will soon fade; leaving you feeling alone and like an anomaly”, I believe this strenuous process would have gone a lot more according-to-plan. “Set back after set back, she[he] persisted.”
The first problem that I had to face was the election of a new—un-expect and abnormal—President; that in Donald J Trump. Having been assured a position through one of my bosses—at that time—D.C. contacts, I was not worried about how the election could negatively affect the possibility of me securing an internship. However, it did. November 9th, 2016, call after call, I began to get declined from the liberal-leaning, grassroots, outlets that I had—days before—been assured a position. The calls stating that they—the outlets—are scrambling, and do not what the next day—or four years—have in store. And with a heavy heart, everyone revoked their assurances for a position for me in their office; simply because they did not know what their plan was going to entail. It is hard to have interns if you—the outlet—doesn’t know what they are going to have them work on and/or their plan of attack.
However, I still had hold of some faith after those damming calls. For, through the program, I was assured to still apply to numerous outlets that were on the list that all us Capital Scholars got. So, I waited, nervous, with a hope that maybe I would hear from a program that I don’t have an in with. Day after day, month after month, silence. After tiring my thumb from pulling down the email on my phone to refresh the page, I had received a letter. A letter from the House Democratic Caucus wanting me to write a response to a prompt that they had given me. If it weren’t for this one email, I probably would not be in D.C. today [foresight, I did not receive this internship]. I was uplifted; I was noticed; I was selected for further debate. It was this reassurance—although it may have been one email telling me to do “xyz”—that I still had a shot at something and it kept me pushing through. Fast forward a few weeks, I had made it to the final round of the selection process and could nearly taste the internship. All I had before me was a mere phone interview and the process would be done, the internship, mine. Wrong. I had the phone interview—I was feeling indifferent about how it went—and then later that week I got my declination letter. After a car ride home from class, filled with tears and the thought of, “Well now what?”, running through my mind, I started to panic. I went home that night and sent out numerous follow-up emails to organizations that had never reached out to me; at this point, begging for someone to have me. Not to my surprise, aside from a few automated email responses, those too resulted in dead ends.
It wasn’t until I reached D.C. and met one of the ASU alumni, that I had felt that original sense of glee like I did that chilly acceptance night. Working connections and never faltering—“just keep swimming”—I was able to land a position with the Center for American Progress (CAP). This outlet is the perfect outlet for me. They do the work that I aspire to do ten years from now. I have said it before, and I will say it again, “Good things come to those who wait”. I was told today by the head of Human Resources—the leader of the internship program at CAP—that they received more than 1800 emails and have only accepted 18. I was taken back by this. I was reassured that I am/was a good applicant. Reflecting on myself a few months ago, I remember all the negative thoughts that raced through my mind. And yet, all of those were for nothing. This process has personified that phrase, “Everything happens for a reason”, and I am grateful to everyone who has helped me through this process. Without Ms. Grant reassuring, me—stressful meeting after stressful meeting—that I’d get something, I can assure you that I would have followed through on my negative thoughts, resulting in my withdrawal from the program. (Just a minor shout-out to Mama Grant for all her help…Thanks!)
For students who are in the same position as I was a few months ago, accepted and reaching for the moon, I would go back to the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason”. The process will devour you if you allow it; trust me I know. I would also recommend that you—future students—apply to a lot more internships than is required. This is still the case if you think you have an in somewhere in D.C. Because, frankly, you too might be faced with your own Donald J Trump scenario, and the last thing you want is to be scrabbling like I was. Prepare yourself, listen to the advisors, and just know, everything will be okay/work out. (What I would do to have been reading this post 6 months ago.. everything would be different, but this process has left me humbled more than humanly possible.)
One thing I have learned this week is to never doubt yourself. Never give up—as cliché as that may sound—because if I would have—and trust me I was about to—I wouldn’t have the internship I do now; nor would I have made relationships with some amazing people. The phrase, “You are good enough” comes to mind simultaneously. Being confident in your own credentials and making sure outlets truly know how great you are. Everyone is faced with challenges, but what separates us is how we react/respond to those and continue forward. In the loving voice of Dory, “Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming”.
ASU Capital Scholars Take on DC Pride