It Took Me 3 Years To Land My First Internship— Why You Shouldn’t Give Up

I started applying for internships during my senior year of high school. I had erroneously thought that it would have been easy to snag one because I was so driven and passionate about broadcast and creative journalism but, what I didn’t know, was that my resume wasn’t reflective of my dedication.

Looking at those early versions of my resume, it’s no wonder that it took three years of applying, for me to finally land my first college internship.  I also didn’t itemize all of my accolades that I had received for my work, nor was there a concise list of my skills.

I found it hard to convey all that I had accomplished on paper. I applied to twenty internships a month, whether it was radio, TV, magazine, fashion or PR, I applied everywhere because I really wanted to learn. My peers in college were also ahead of me. They all have had three to six internships and instead, there I was working two jobs for less-than-satisfactory pay and still no internship.

The turning point came Junior year of college when I took a writing for public relations class. The professor was knowledgeable and exacting, which I loved— she brought out the best in me. Every evening we gathered around while she ripped each and every one of our resume’s apart to reconstruct it. This class, I think, was the beginning of my success story.

One day, she said,”Isiuwa, why don’t you go on this PR site and apply for an internship?” I started to tell her that I wasn’t interest in PR, that I didn’t want to stray from my real passion, broadcast journalism.

“Just apply,” she said, “You never know what may come from it and it is always good to get experience everywhere. PR is also needed in TV/RADIO.”

So I took her advice and went on the website and applied for a fashion PR internship. The next day I got an email where the company asked to set up an interview— needless to say, I was extremely surprised.

Fast forward to the day of the interview. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong: I had to retake a test; I had to squeeze in a meeting with my advisor; I was almost an hour late to my interview and I almost got hit by a car—really, every single thing went wrong. Somehow, through it all, I didn’t get frustrated or frazzled. Instead I was able to remain calm, cool and collected by saying a prayer to myself  that included a favorite mantra of mine, “What is meant for me will be for me.

I’ve been on fifteen interviews so far and haven’t landed any—God, you know my heart and I am leaving you in control.” I repeated that prayer dozens of times while I was en route to the interview and the first sign of luck was an email from the interviewer telling me to take my time arriving (I’d told her I’d be late.)

Once I got there, everything went swimmingly: We had a great conversation that encompassed everything from fashion week to my creative interests and abilities.

She even said she loved my resume, to which I accidentally responded with a silent, “YOU SEE ME!” I was ecstatic! It was the first time that someone was able to see the effort that I’d put in over the years—she even thought I may have been overqualified, considering my experience.

This really was the start of things beginning to move uphill for me. Leaving that interview, I felt elated and confident in my application.

As soon as I got home, I checked my email and an offer letter for my very first college internship was already waiting for me! Wow. All my hard work had finally paid off.

While it wasn’t an internship in TV/Radio, it was a start to getting my foot in the door and it had taken me three years to land it. I had applied day and night; I cried; I doubted myself and tried to rush the process.

What I learned during those three years of tireless effort was that timing is everything, and the reason why I didn’t get an internship earlier on was because I wasn’t ready: I hadn’t learned enough; I hadn’t met the people who would teach me what I needed to know and instead; I was aggressively chasing time instead of letting time take its course.

The universe knew how hard I had been working and all the effort I had put in. All I needed to do was sit back and let the universe work it’s magic and conspire in my favor.

I say all this to say that you can not compare yourself to where others are on their journey to success. Focus on your own journey, then allow yourself to be groomed for the opportunity you’ve been desperately waiting for.

Take my word for it: I am now a senior in college and I just got an internship at BET Networks and I had been applying consistently every single semester since I stepped foot in college. This is my final year and this will be my first big network company to work in.

Trust me—your time is coming!


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