“EL PRESENTE ES LO ÚNICO QUE TENGO”
Recognize those words? If you listen to Mexican pop-singer Julieta Venegas, I bet you will. They’re from her song “El Presente” (the present), and for the non-Spanish speakers out there, the rough translation is “the present is the only thing that I have.”
I was listening to the song on the subway ride home from the office when I realized how totally right she is.
If you saw last week’s Mike Check, you read about my long-term strategy to deal with my student loans. I think it’s a pretty solid (even common) plan, but I also think there’s a major issue with it: there’s not much guidance as to what I should be doing right now. I know I can’t solve the problem immediately, but I can set myself up to deal with it in the future.
But first, I have to sort out what I’m doing in the present to set myself up for that strategy. Contrary to what many of our elders believe, most of us students don’t expect to just walk out of college and instantly get a high-paying job. We know that careers are ladders, and with only a degree in your hands, you’re going to end up starting out on the bottom rung. But to even get to that bottom rung, you’ve got to do a few things while you’re still in school.
I’ve heard time and time again from my parents, school career counselors, and even professors that internships are the most important things you can do to prepare for a career after college. They provide you with professional experience in a given field, and if they’re really nice, they pay you as well!
From what I’ve seen so far, no employer is going to care about the name brand value of your school or what you majored in when they’re filling a position. The first thing they’re going to look at is the experience section of your résumé. If the only thing you’ve got down there is your summer job flipping burgers, guess what? No job! Sometimes if the company is very competitive, no interview either.
Now granted this is an undergraduate’s take on career advice, but I’m not completely inexperienced. I’m only getting the chance to write this because I’m an intern, after all. And how did I land this awesome internship, you ask? I was an intern somewhere else first. Internships, you’ll find, have a ladder system as well. Once you do your time at one, other opportunities open up to you—each of them shaping you for that necessary career.
If you didn’t pick up on it by now, the present part of my loan repayment strategy is to intern my rear-end off until I’m ready to take on an entry-level position.
EASIER SAID THAN DONE
When it comes down to it, real internships (the ones that don’t involve coffee fetching) are a lot of work. That being said. I’m finding that if you enjoy your work, it’s a million times easier to do than if you don’t.
The moral of my story (and maybe yours too, if you’re in a similar situation as me) is work now, dream later. I’ve got my career future semi-planned out, but in order to get there I need to work as hard as humanly possible at my current internship and at school.
With some great experience and academics behind me, hopefully I’ll be ready for that entry-level creative job and ready to start chipping away at my own personal debt mountain.