Finding Your Way

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It is May 22nd, and I’m writing this blog post, which was due on the 15th but with a hectic work schedule, an exciting social life on top of a failing online class. I’m lucky I remembered to do this assignment at all.

Before arriving in D.C. on May 27th, I had no internship, only a scheduled interview to look forward to. There was a sense of excitement mixed with the lingering anxiety from not knowing how secure I was in the program by not having locked in an internship and financial stress due to not having a job.

My student account was not $0.00, in fact, it reflected a debt to the tune of nearly $7,000. I was waiting for a miracle. Nevertheless, I was still excited about being in Washington D.C. for the first time.

I arrived at DCA, welcomed by an hour time change and terrible customer service. Something that’ll take you back is the sheer lack of decorum by some customer service workers. My first Uber driver was okay but my second driver didn’t help me with my while bags when I was getting in the car. He didn’t give me a hand with my bags while getting out either, and as I was unloading my things, he rushed me and threatened to take off if I didn’t move fast enough, all while in public! When I had my dad order a pizza for me because I had no money, the delivery person asked for a tip, blatant request for tips is a thing here. I generally tip, but to be asked for tips is something else.

After Memorial Day, I went to my interview with Environment Virginia and landed the job. It was a paid gig, and I was just glad I didn’t have to worry about income for the summer. Little did I know how awful canvassing work really is, the hours are odd, they’re later than normal, 1 pm – 9 pm. There is no office, so amenities you need, such as a restroom, aren’t there. There’s a quota that dictates your security at the job. One of my friends was actually fired for not meeting the quota. This position was not worth the stress I was under. I quit before they could formally fire me, there was a lot of communication between my supervisor and me about how much I needed the position.

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After the separation, my time after leaving was filled with boredom, anxiety, and depression. Seeing my roommates all leave for their jobs didn’t make it easy. My lack of income made it impossible to even leave my apartment. The heat didn’t allow for much walking. I was depressed and discouraged for a good three weeks. I was ready to give up and go home. I got to the point of feeling like a failure so much so that I couldn’t bring myself to ask my parents for money to buy food. A tip for anyone in this position, dating apps are your friend. If you’re hungry schedule a date, don’t ask the person to go out on a date, that’ll mean you’ll have to pay but get a date. It’s a free meal, and if you’re lucky you might actually have a great time! Stay safe and keep your wits about you.

Later in June, after applying for countless jobs and internships, I got an email about coming in for an interview at Cadogan & Associates and Woman Thrive. I had a phone interview with Woman Thrive and felt as though I knocked it out of the park, the next day I had an in-person interview with Cadogan & Associate. That interview went well, but I felt the need to not get my hopes up. On Monday, I got a call from the CEO, Liz, and she offered me a position. I was thrilled! Not only was I going to be working but the internship offered a stipend. I had one less thing to worry about. I took out a private loan, and although I hate being in debt, I knew it would cover the cost of the program. The university gave me a grant within the same timeframe of my loan request, it was bittersweet. I’d just took out a loan for more money than I actually needed but a grant over a loan is a blessing. However, I was still annoyed. The state of Illinois needs to get it together.

I started working immediately and my communication skills were put to great use. My boss, Liz, has been a tremendous teacher and each project is an opportunity to learn something that can’t be taught in a classroom. The work force is a new field and one that I never really thought I’d be in, I thought I’d stay in academia, but it’s opened my eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship and being my own boss. The work we do is all ethical, progressive and truly monumental as my boss is a Black woman who employs women of color and creates opportunities for advancement for disenfranchised people in the community she serves. Cadogan & Associates is a reflection of the ethics and talents of one woman whose identities should have keep her disempowered but instead are some of the many variables that drives her work and work ethic. Liz and the team are something to marvel at! I’m very happy and proud to be a part of her dream.

 

Social life in D.C. is great! You never know who you’re sitting next to and somehow now that I have a job I’m passionate about I find myself building possible business relationships already, even when I’m on dates. There’s cool places to go and see. The city is diverse, I’m surprised I don’t have to go to certain pockets of the city to see Black people. There is has a huge gentrification issue and other issues that are products of an imperialist capitalist white supremacist patriarchy nation but nevertheless it’s a great place.

 

If you find yourself lost and confused and broke during this internship, just know you’re not the first and won’t be the last. I’m not saying stick it out and I’m also not saying leave because each case is different but you will find your way.

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