One of our interns, Sachi Soni, wrote this blog about her perspective on life and her Qualtrax intern experience. Enjoy!
An open letter from an intern who’s one step closer in figuring it out…
As a freshman in college, you begin noticing people throw around statistics like, “Only 1 in 5 _____ majors are employed.” They find their way into conversation over Thanksgiving dinner, during a tense phone call with your parents, or as a headline of some prominent newspaper like Forbes or Bloomberg. You feel surrounded by people who seem so sure of what they want to be and where they want to be it. You feel inferior and vulnerable accepting those statistics saying, “You’re right, I probably shouldn’t study Nature and American Values, Philosophy, or Fine Arts. If I don’t know what I want to do after graduation, I’ll be wasting this investment.”
As a rising junior, I had to ask myself, why have we grown to see our major as the end-all, be-all of our college experience? And even more than that, why is there always an asterisk at the end of that statistic, bearing the implication: “…and I think you’re going to be one of those 4 without a job”?
In high school, I was heavily involved in a business organization, DECA. I ventured to Virginia Beach and all the way to Anaheim, California to bring home medals and recognition for my school. Business seemed to be my “thing.” It was hard to explore any other paths when my parents, friends, and teachers were saying it would be right for me. Then worse, that if it isn’t, I might end up jobless, wishing I had listened to the people who told me that I would learn to love accounting, BIT, and ECON to get the jackpot of a career.
Somewhere along the way of getting here, I took for granted that I would go to one of the best public colleges in the country for majoring in Engineering, Business, or Biology, but also for simply figuring your “stuff” out. I knew I wanted to be in Marketing, I just wasn’t sure how. I had no concentration, no focus.
Though Marketing Management is still my major at Tech, I felt as if I were cheating myself in thinking I want to work for the “top-tier” companies at Business Horizons, like everyone else. For me, it was never a question of whether I could grin and bear through what it took to work there. Rather, it was about whether I wanted to be someone who actually used the phrase “grin and bear it” to describe what should be some of the most meaningful years in my personal and professional development. What I lacked was not discipline, it was the direction and guts.
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and sometimes the purest coincidences are what shape you the most. As a second semester sophomore I came across a job announcement in Pamplin’s weekly email for a Marketing Communications Internship at Qualtrax. Looking to boost my resume, I applied, interviewed, and somehow got it. I was thrown off guard when my awesome boss, Sarah, asked me what I wanted out of this experience and what I wanted to learn, create, and showcase for myself. I threw myself off guard even more when I replied with “visual media.” So I went with it.
It took me almost a week to make a very simple postcard that would be used for a Tradeshow. I was horrible at Photoshop, but it challenged me. It made me use a set of skills I didn’t know I had. Completing similar projects along the course of the semester, I gained a feeling of satisfaction and self-fulfillment. I explored careers and industries that would allow me to design and contribute to something meaningful. After many hours exhausting Google search and asking Sarah question after question, I knew what my next step had to be. Build a portfolio. How could I do that? Outside my work at Qualtrax, I really had nothing. I’d be a weed out against art majors. So, I made an appointment with the School of Visual Arts and added a major. One girl, two degrees: Marketing Management and Graphic Design.
Qualtrax, and more importantly, Sarah, taught me that being an entrepreneur has meaning beyond being just a buzzword, or a moniker ascribed to someone who decided to start their own business. It means being an adventurous, brave, tenacious, and independent thinker. It means acting with uncompromising passion, refusing to pigeonhole yourself into a major or a life-path that isn’t exactly what you want. It means having the confidence that you will figure it out, even if you don’t know what “it” is yet.
I can’t be more excited to complete my next two years at Tech. I know that what I want to do after undergrad may change and change again; but the best way we can figure it out is to bravely explore every alternative we see for ourselves. To dive headfirst into our whimsy. To wear our fickleness on our sleeve. To hack our lives into the exact combination of careers and commitments that we want. I can’t express my gratitude enough to Sarah and Qualtrax for being welcoming, inspiring, and motivating. For giving me the chance to find what I love and then believing and supporting me. It is truly through them that I can say without hesitation or fear: I’m going to be that 1 in 5. I’m going to figure it out.