Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Day 1: Southwestern Discovery

For those who are new readers, I have recently completed my first year of college. Yay! So long freshman year and here comes sophomore year! And with that being said for the next days of June I will be discussing a few of the moments that I have experienced while I was out in the world figuring things out all in the comfort of my half piece of room I shared with my former roommate.

Early into my second semester of college, I received a phone call from an unfamiliar number which normally I would have not answered but because I am no longer under my parents supervision, I had to answer all of my phone calls regardless if it is a telemarketer that is trying to sell me life insurance at age 18. I answered the phone and there was this man on the other end asking for me which I told him that I was that person, and he continued on saying that there was a summer internship opportunity with my name on it and if I was interested in going for an information meeting to learn more about the company. In shock for the phone call and for being considered as a freshman, I told him my schedule for the following days and he scheduled me a meeting date. Boy, did I really not know what I was getting myself into...

Meeting Day:
On meeting day, I used Google Maps to look up the location that the man on the phone messaged me the night before and since I like to make my first impressions count, I left my dorm with enough time in case I were to get lost but also be able to find the building without having to rush in like if I had been chased by a large dog. (Yes... I am afraid of large dogs but you cannot blame me I am not even five feet tall) I legitimately walked passed my designated building and had to make my way around the sprinklers to get back on track. "Wiggins Complex" the building read and that is when I knew I had made it. I opened the door and advised the lady that I had come in for Southwestern, the company that offered me the internship, information meeting by the man who was named (to protect the staff we will call him Pedro) Pedro. I was instructed to take a seat that they would be there for me shortly but not a minute passed and a man dressed nicely in a suit and tie called my name and motioned me to follow him. The room was dark with hints of light to illuminate the round desk that filled the room. Me along with three other individuals were invited to the information meeting session and as soon as we sat down and introduced ourselves, we were given this green sheet to fill out some questions about ourselves. You know the usual, what is your name, DOB, address to what you wanted to get out of Southwestern. To begin with the information meeting was quite demanding, I felt like I was not given a choice to take notes, I had to take notes and I did not want to know what would happen if I did not take notes. With the mindset that the internship was going to be psychology related because on the phone the previous night I was asked for my major, I decided to let the notes slide but on the contrary it had little to do with my major... Their internship consisted of going to a different state, somewhere that I have no experience with, and sell educational products to families door to door. That should have been my red flag there but I had promised myself that I was going to do more things out of my comfort zone so when they had asked me if I was interested in going through the interview process I said yes. Just so you all know, this interview process gets weirder and weirder because I am pretty sure interviews should not be this demanding. I was given this packet with tasks to do, in fact I still have my packet, and prior to my first interview I had to complete the first section of the tasks. The first section consisted of reading the assigned passages and answering reflecting questions about what I wanted to get out of Southwestern. Oh and my first interview was actually the next day. Who needs prep time? (God help me...)

Interview 1:
Since I had classes in the afternoon the only time I could schedule my interviews were in the morning at 8 o'clock in the morning. Waking up early, I dressed nice, and did my makeup outside of my dorm room where the hallways were lit so I did not have to turn on the light and bother my roommate. The nervous jitters were starting to kick in and all I could think about is what I have done. If I wanted the internship, then I should be proud to be given the interview but all I did was fear of doing well knowing in the back of my mind that this was something I did not want to do for the entirety of my summer. With my head held high and my portfolio held tight, I walked back to the Wiggins Complex for my interview. The same pair of ladies from the day before were there and instructed me to wait again. For my first interview, Pedro was not my interviewer, instead it was the same man who held the information meeting. We will call the information meeting man, Luke. Luke again, was dressed nice in another suit and tie and I am honestly a sucker for nice people. If you are nice to me from the start, chances are that I will be more likely to share with you a few facts about myself and continue talking overall. Being directed to the interview room, the size of the room was smaller than my childhood bedroom, and trust me when I say this because my childhood bedroom is small as it is. A small desk with two chairs on the opposing side had already made the tiny interview room seem crowded especially with the door closed which is how my interview was held. The interview went smoothly, I could be the most anxious person before the interview but as soon as I sit down with the interviewer a surge of confidence overwhelms me. I do not know where the confidence comes from, but I must be taking the "fake it til you make it" phrase to the next level. One of the things that I hated during the interview is talking about my past because I never know which memory to bring up and I also hate being personal to strangers. In the middle of the interview though I was so focused on filling out the reflecting questions that I totally forgot about the passages. So when I was asked about the passages I thought I had sabotaged my chance because I honestly told him that I did not read it and was like, I guess we cannot discuss the passages then... and went straight into the reflecting questions. I am not one to lie so if I do get eliminated at least I know that I was being truthful. Yet other than that, I felt the interview was going great, interviewer was laughing, the interview turned into more of a sit and chat, and just like that I was offered my second interview. I drew a blank because again I did not think I was getting this far but did I say no? Of course...not.

Interview 2:
Prior to this interview I was instructed to call previous Southwestern individuals that have done a summer internship to gain more of an insider of what to expect. A list of phone numbers were in the packet  I thought it was a clever thing to get actually speak with individuals who have done the internship and listen to their stories to be certain if the internship was really for you. The only obstacle that I had to get through was actually making the phone call. I avoid making phone calls unless that is the only option that I am left with. Just the fact that I cannot see facial expressions and talking aimlessly, I prefer to speak to the person in person. At least when you speak to someone face to face you are able to catch the mixed signals in the body language and be able to ask that person to explain in what context do they mean. Along with the phone call, I was given a list of base questions to ask like what was a typical day of the internship, how did their parents feel during the interview and when they have left for the internship, and what they had learned overall through the internship. Most of the individuals that I had called were nice and provided some sort of philosophical advice. It was a little too good to be true, if you know what I mean. Completing the task I prepare myself again for my next interview. My second interview was actually the day after my first interview. This by far has been the most fast paced interview process I have put myself in. I did not even have time to think thoroughly about my decisions because as soon as I made one I had already had to start deciding on the next. At least for this interview it was at 10 in the morning but that still meant I had to dress nice. Arriving in the same location, this time Pedro was doing my interview. Which actually Pedro should have done my interview the day before but I guess something happened that he couldn't so Luke had to take over. Pedro was a large man, not fat, but built large. It was intimidating to say the least. The second interview was held in the same room and we started going over the tasks of the packet. As asked, I discussed about the individuals that I spoke on the phone. Some of them had insider jokes with Pedro that requested me to share with him and he chuckled as I mentioned them. At the end of the interview he had asked me what was the real reason why I wanted to go forward with the Southwestern internship and without warning a rush of emotions overcame me and I was starting to talk about how when I was younger I was always taught what I should do and who I should become. With the internship though it was a way of how I can define myself and prove others wrong that I am much more than what the next person tells me to do. I am my own person and I believe that I should be given the chance to prove myself. I nearly cried answering that question and I want to say that is how I got offered my third interview. Where will I stop...

Interview 3:
Last interview day, I had at least been given the weekend to prepare for this final interview. Which I was really grateful because I was running on fumes by the end of the week. Trying to make it on time to my interviews, on time to my classes, and still do my homework while prepare for the interviews to come was not a walk in the park. Priot to my third interview I was instructed to call another set of individuals for more personal anecdotes and read a small book that I was given by Pedro on my second interview. The book was a tad moving which I guess was supposed to set in the mood that anything is achievable regardless from where you start. On my third interview Pedro asked about the individuals and again I recited what they had told me on the phone. Then the most terrifying part of all came in this final interview. Pedro pulls out this booklet with phrases that the they say to the families that they go door to door to sell. Which was not too bad I just thought he was going to show me what were the common protocol of Southwestern's way of door to door selling but then he asks me to demonstrate how I would sell. As I left the room to demonstrate my poor selling skills to Pedro, a large chunk of my confidence left the room too. After showing how awful I am at selling products, he roleplays one of the premade sayings on the booklet we were going over to show me what was the "proper" way of getting the sell done. So I follow along since again I did not have a choice. I am impressed at how manipulating a salesperson can be with their product, I think it takes true art and talent to sell even the most minuscule needed item. Now just when I thought the interview was wrapping itself, Pedro hands me the booklet and says that I had five minutes to memorize one of the phrases because I was going to copy his roleplay back to him! FIVE MINUTES! The moment the door closed behind him, since he left me alone in the interview room to practice, my mind and my heart were racing to see who would be the first one to make it to sanity. Five minutes go by quick when all you want to do is turn invisible. I had almost replicated the roleplay word for word until I drew a blank towards the end where I had to skip and go to directly from the last point I could remember. Pedro was impressed, at least that is what I thought. The end of the interview came and that is when I had finally told him that I was not going to go forward anymore. He had thanked me for my time and effort, for meeting a person such as myself, and that although he was not sure whether I had what it takes that he still had a troubling time letting me go. Just like that, I shook his hand and I parted.

This whole Southwestern interview journey took a little bit over a week to complete and even through the whole process I was fearing of getting further and further along to being accepted, a part of me knew that this is not what I wanted. Towards the middle of the interview process I was wondering how far will I make it, lets continue to see how far I will make it and that is how I remained to keep going. I ended up not proving myself to Southwestern but more to myself that when you step out of your comfort zone, opportunities begin to rise. Even though most times you are clueless as to what to do with the opportunity when they come without setting yourself out there chances are that the opportunity would of ceased to exist. This journey has taught me a lot more about myself than I thought I knew. I have learned that under pressure I am still able to work well when I am given the right tools to push forward, my comfort zone grew smaller, and that I am more capable than I have thought. In a way I want to thank Southwestern Advantage for allowing to go through the range of emotions to find a new meaning to myself and for setting the bar high for having the most far out interview process I have been in so far.

What was the craziest interview process you have been in?

xx Chavelita

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