Last week, at the Student Services Building, after interviewing a candidate for the adviser position with the UT Leadership and Ethics Institute…
“It’s 3:20 p.m., if I change really quick and run across campus, I can catch the shuttle to get me to Lake Austin Boulevard with plenty of time before my interview, I’m on a mission!”
I think about it one more time, there is no way I can make it to the stop so quickly. “Rita, Mary Beth, what would be the quickest way to get to Lake Austin Blvd. within 45 minutes?”
Without hesitation, without me even asking, Mary Beth, my former professor and Assistant Dean of Students, immediately said “I’ll take you.” It was such a relief, and while not surprising that Mary Beth would be willing to help a student in any possible way she could, I learned an important lesson: that it is OK to ask for help. On our way to the Anette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation for my interview for the Ted Strauss Civic Internship Award, Mary Beth re-emphasized the importance of asking for help- “every time you ask someone for help, remember that they, too, once were in your position and received someone’s help, so never hesitate to simply ASK.”
So there goes lesson #____: ask and you shall receive/ if you don’t ask you’ll never get/ it’s OK to ask! (But always remember to give back when the tables turn and you are the one being asked for help!)
Fact: I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to build strong connections with your professors, advisers, any other professional staff that you interact often at school. It makes such a big difference and plays a crucial role in making a large place like UT, a much smaller community. Fact about UT, you can make this happen, people are accessible, people are willing to help. But the key again is taking the initiative, and asking for help when you need it- mind readers are rare anywhere you go.
Back to the interview…I got to the Institute with plenty of time to get settled and be ready for my interview. When you walk into the room, you always have two options: presenting yourself as someone you don’t even know or being yourself. The winner: Just be yourself and have a conversation with your interviewers. At the end of the day, they want to know the real you, they want to know you past the one-page resume you turned in or your witting sample, and you can only give that by being you.
So simple lesson # _____: Be Yourself!
Yesterday in an e-mail, I received the best news I had received all week:
“Congratulations! You have been selected to receive the Ted Strauss Internship Award.”
After a few days feeling a little disappointed about how my classes turned out this semester, this made me look at the bigger picture, and realize once again, how there are so many people who believe in our potential and want to help us succeed- as cliche as it sounds- I’ve found this to be true along the way. The Award is a stipend for my summer internship, a $2,000 stipend that to me means two thousand more dollars to save to help cover the costs of tuition. Upon return from my internship I have the opportunity to share my experience at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation.This Award has also given me an extra push to be confident in myself and give opportunities like this a try. It isn’t the right attitude when we see an opportunity for a scholarship or award to think “there are so many others who are so much more qualified, so I shouldn’t even try.” Back to my first entry: “You’ll never know unless you try.” I can’t say enough about how true this is. I am guilty of not trying many times, but like I’ve learned, you’ll never win unless you play the game (and there is absolutely nothing you can lose by simply trying). [credit for this lesson to my Hispanic College Fund adopted dad, George Cushman]
Speaking of the Hispanic College Fund, it is there that I will be interning this summer. For the second consecutive summer I will be returning to HCF as their government relations fellow, handling congressional outreach and hopefully continuing to increase congressional support and involvement in the organization’s programs. I strongly believe in the organization, I am fruit of what they do, and being part of their team is always an unforgettable experience.
Lesson # ____ : in choosing a place to intern, I think it is key that you actually believe in what their mission is! it makes such a great difference to intern at a place where you believe in what they do (as opposed to not) – I have found that it helps you remain even more committed to your work and it really shows when you are speaking of the organization to others- not that we are salespeople for our employers, but if you don’t believe in what you do, how will others buy into it and support it?