20something profile: Rene
I graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2010 in public relations. I was an average student, with dreams of leaving South Carolina to make a name for myself in a bigger city.
My college experience didn’t help me nail down any solid dreams. I had two internships for public relations during my senior year and didn’t enjoy them. I worked full time while going to school, so I didn’t allot a lot of time to student organizations or extracurricular activities. Other than general work experience, my résumé was a little lacking.
At the end of my junior year, I sustained a back injury that put my life on hold. The situation became a mess, as doctors scrambled around to find the reason of my pain. The answer came a year later, during my final weeks of college.
About two weeks after graduation, I had to have surgery on my spine. While recovering, I applied to about one hundred jobs, hoping to get a lucky break with a PR firm. After a few months of applying, I received a job offer from a bank as a customer service representative. I jumped at the chance to have a full time job. After my first day of training, I knew I had made a mistake, but I kept reminding myself that I wasn’t getting any other offers and should stick it out.
The job was commission based, and I was not a salesman at the time. My low income forced me to get a part-time job on the side when student loan payments started coming in. I quickly realized that my body, while in recovery, could not sustain the stress that I was putting it through. I could not handle the sales quota I needed to fill or the physical demands needed for my jobs.
So I left the bank position and made my part time job my primary job while I looked for work elsewhere. Bills were harder to pay, so I got another part-time job. I continued to apply for any jobs remotely close to my expertise and kept coming up empty handed.
After six months went by with no interviews, I gave up. I accepted defeat and my self-esteem tanked. My spine was still in pain, and my life wasn’t going anywhere. When I reflect back, I see that I made many mistakes, but I also saw how desperate I was.
It was a customer at one of my part time jobs that helped me snap out of it. They told me I needed to find what made me happy, because they hadn’t seen me smile in months. In that moment, I broke down and admitted to myself that giving up was not the answer. I forced myself to snap out of my rut and examine what my dreams were in college. I took a long hard look at my résumé and sent it to friends and family to help me tailor it to specific jobs that I wanted.
As luck would have it, I received a job offer at my alma mater. The position has helped me make some realizations about myself that have been important in finding where my passions lie, and I finally have to be “me.” I’ve had the fortune of exploring different areas of the university, and the department I work for has been such a large support system for helping me pursue my goals.
Though I’m still trying to figure things out, I know I’m making great strides to where I want to be now. My advice to any individuals who are still struggling as I did is to never, even in the bleakest of times, give up. Reevaluate where it is you want to be if things aren’t working out, and trust yourself when you feel unhappy where you are. The job you want is out there, I promise!