The Summer of 2006
How I managed to mess up graduating from college on time and learn to ask for help.
I managed to mess up graduating from Loyola University New Orleans on time. I thought I had enough credit hours, but I ended up being two hours short.
How does that happen?
Well, sometimes I'm dumb. I thought I had two more hours than I did. Either a class didn't transfer from Spring Hill (where I spent my Katrina semester) or there was some confusion about being exempt from taking hours from a math requirement. Anyway, I ended up needing to take two credit hours over the summer to graduate. That screwed up my plan to apply for jobs. I didn't think it would look good to potential employers that I managed to miss graduating by two hours. I decided to try to get an internship instead and hopefully that would lead to a permanent position.
The first interview I had was at a large advertising firm in New Orleans. The guy they had teaching web design at Loyola at the time was the head of their web team. It seemed like a good place to apply. They sent out a written questionnaire with a bunch of pretty standard questions on it. They liked my responses and asked me to come interview in person with my portfolio.
Now, when I was in college, I was a massive procrastinator. I spent many caffeine fueled, sleepless nights slamming out projects at the last minute. Putting together my portfolio was no different. I was up all night, the night before my interview putting together my portfolio. It was thrown together in a cheap binder with sleeves. It was not my finest work.
I show up at their office a week later. I was a pretty awkward and sleep deprived 21 year old wearing the Men's Warehouse suit my Dad bought me as a high school graduation present. My palms were sweating and so were my pits. I tend to get a little sweaty when I'm nervous. The guys (and they were all men) I was interviewing with were wearing t-shirts and jeans. I'm not sure why I thought wearing a poorly fitting suit was a good idea, but I did. Being extremely overdressed for the occasion made me feel uncomfortable and helped build a feedback loop of stress and self-doubt.
I stammered and staggered as I presented my designs. I didn't show confidence and it was clear I was uncomfortable. I bombed the interview. They told me they liked the designs, but I needed to work on my copyrighting and my portfolio. They asked me to resubmit it in couple of weeks after making some adjustments.
I never did. The critique on the copy annoyed me. My professors wrote the copy and they knew that. I used that as an excuse to not go back.
I Should Have Asked For Help
My academic adviser asked me if I wanted help with my schedule for my last semester of my Senior year. I said no, I can handle it. If I had said yes, I would have graduated on time.
There were opportunities to have my portfolio reviewed, but I did not take advantage of them. I didn't go to The Senior Portfolio Review because it was inconvenient. I turned down the offers of various professors to review my portfolio. If I had taken advantage of those opportunities, I would have been better prepared for my interview and might have gotten that internship.
I knew people who worked at the advertising agency I interviewed with. I could have asked them what would be appropriate to wear to an interview and what to expect. I did not and ended up an overdressed mess. I would have been stressed and awkward anyway, but it would have been a lot less obvious.
I get myself in avoidable unpleasant situations because I don't ask for or want help even if I need it. I believe that I can figure pretty much anything out given enough time and effort. That is mostly true, but things are a lot easier if you get help from someone who has been there before.
I've gotten a lot better about asking for help since college, but I still have my moments. I'll probably be working on it the rest of my life.
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