Earlier this month Experiential learning held their Internship Fair and this week Career Services held their Career Expo. Both of these events happen every Fall and Spring and bring employers to campus who are hungry to hire students for jobs and internships. Many of you attended these events as an exercise in your career class to get points. Many of you would have gone anyway. Here’s a blog about initially being disappointed by the fair and then having it all come together! Stay classy UCF and awesome things will happen:
Last fall, I started my first year of college and I never would’ve imagined that a year later I would have landed an incredible internship. The journey to where I am now was certainly not easy, but it most definitely wasn’t impossible. Simply put, I merely took a risk…and this risk just happened to land me an awesome internship!
Before I continue with my story, I want to tell you a little about my background and myself. I was born and raised here in Orlando, FL, although my family is from Medellin, Colombia. I graduated from West Orange High School (Go Warriors!). Currently, I am a junior (by credits) and am majoring in Accounting and Finance.
Throughout my academic career, I guess you could say I was a bit of an over-achiever. In high school, I took 12 AP (Advanced Placement) classes and I was involved in several extracurricular activities including SNHS, NHS, Beta Club, Concert Choir, Bel Canto, Piano, Best Buddies, and Mu Alpha Theta to name a few.
When I started UCF in the Fall of 2014, I felt like just your average college student. I guess I was used to being so involved in high school and then when I started college, I wasn’t involved in a million things, so I felt kind of average. I attended class, studied, took exams, got good grades, etc. When the Fall 2014 semester ended, I was pleased with my first semester of college. I had achieved a 4.0 GPA and that definitely made me very happy, but I felt like something was missing. Deep down inside, I felt that even with a 4.0 GPA that was not going to be enough to stand out from 60,000+ students that were also doing the same things that I was.
After the semester ended, the over-achiever in me kicked in. I had always heard of how important internships are, so I figured why not? If I want to stand out, an internship will surely be a great experience. I spent countless hours during my winter break researching for internships and unfortunately I was quite discouraged. All of the internships that I found were for seniors & upperclassmen and it seemed like I didn’t fit any of the requirements for any of the internships that I researched.
Winter passed in the blink of an eye and before I knew it, I was walking the halls of the Business Administration building once again. It was during my Spring semester of 2015 that I enrolled in the first career GEB 3003 class of the Career Professionalism series. And that’s when things started to change for me.
I remember that our first assignment in GEB 3003 was to attend Welcome to the Majors. To be honest, I had no clue what that even was and the only reason I attended was because it was part of my grade. So I attended and it was at Welcome to the Majors that I was introduced to concept of “Being the One” that is frequently used in the College of Business. I don’t want to sound dramatic and say that this event changed my life but it definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities of what “Being the One” means and how important it is to differentiate yourself from people who are seeking the same goals as you.
Throughout my GEB 3003 class, we also had to accumulate activity points and the activities that I did really helped me land an internship. One of the activities that I did was attend an internship fair. I remember walking into the Pegasus Ballroom and I was a bit overwhelmed. I started to doubt myself. Is my resume strong enough? What will the recruiters think of me? There’s no way that I can compete with all these Upperclassmen…etc.etc.etc.. But at the same time, I didn’t want to walk away empty handed. I had driven about 45 minutes to get to UCF (I live on the other side of town) and I didn’t want to just leave. It was then, that I decided to take a risk. I was completely out of my comfort zone, but I figured that I had nothing to lose and I thought to myself, worse comes to worse, I’ll get rejected or receive no offers and I’ll never see these people ever again.
I remember the really long lines and all the people dressed so professionally with their resumes and pens on hand, but I zoned everyone else out and I was completely myself with the recruiters—I was courteous, polite, etc. There was one booth in particular that caught my attention. It was the booth that belonged to Starwood Vacation Ownership. And this was a company that I was familiar with because my father is the Director of Engineering at one of their resorts. I spoke to them briefly, handed them my resume and before I knew it I received a phone call from Starwood Vacation Ownership requesting a phone interview.
Long story short, I passed the phone interview and was eventually invited for an in-person interview. When the interview was over, I thought it had gone pretty well, but then the long, grueling wait began. Of course, I followed up but it took about 2-3 months for me to get a response and then I got the news that I did not receive an offer.
I’m not going to lie. I was a bit disappointed. I had taken a risk and now I was facing rejection. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from pursuing my goals of obtaining an internship. I continued to search for more internships and I applied for a few more internships. I really believe that when one door closes another opens and I also believe that everything happens for a reason.
Then, one day in April, out of the blue, I received a phone call from a recruiter at Starwood Vacation Ownership. This time they were offering me an internship position in one of the Finance departments! It made me so thankful that I had stepped out of my comfort zone and taken a risk.
The biggest lesson that this experience taught me is that if you’re not willing to risk, then you’re not ready to receive. I took a risk and it most definitely paid off. I could’ve let fear dictate my actions but I didn’t. I decided to take a risk by seeking an internship my first year in college and it worked out in my favor.
I strongly encourage you to take risks like I did. It’s never too early to start looking for internships. One of my favorite quotes is by Peter Drucker. It reads “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” So tell me, are you going to have an internship one year from now?
UCF College of Business Student (and Project Finance Intern at Starwood!!)