Why does the prospect of work experience completely and utterly terrify me?
Today I hit an all new low. I had been putting off completing work experience applications for a month (upon writing this I have only just realised it’s been a month!) So today I decided I wasn’t going to get dressed, I was going to sit on my bed, with a constant supply of tea and write out my cover letters.
After only getting distracted by Buzzfeed a couple of times (apparently my next boyfriend is going to be a nerd based on the foods I chose which were predominantly cheese based, read into that what you will) I got them all finished.
Well the first lot of them anyway. As I was debating writing a couple more my mum messaged me asking if I could send her some details about my flat and term time dates. I sent them to her and signed off the message ‘Yours Sincerely Alice Broster’…that’s when I decided that it was time to just stop.
I don’t know about you but “it isn’t about what you know, it is about who you know” has been said to me millions of times since I took my A Levels, either by tutors and lecturers or people who didn’t understand why I went to university in the first place. It’s so true, networking and placements are immensely important. But for an aspiring journalist with no writers in my family, this isn’t the most comforting sentiment.
I remember even as far back as high school I felt everyone knew what they wanted to do. There is the constant fear that they are somehow ahead of you- they got a first in their undergraduate degree, spent three months helping orphaned children and have done work placements every summer since they were nine.
And of all places, networking and careers events are a hot bed for these feelings. I went to one such event about nine months ago before starting my Masters. I toyed with the idea for a while of doing a law conversion course (hilarious in itself) and as I stood in a room full of perfect strangers and industry professionals I ‘ummed’ and ‘ahhhed’ as people gushed about the gap year (that I didn’t take) or the dreadful placement (which I haven’t done) all in an effort to appear as qualified to be there as possible. In reality I was panicking and wondering where the free wine was coming from. But whilst there was definitely some people there who will have done everything they said I think we all feel the same, slightly out of our depth and behind everybody else.
Yet what I lack in experience I more than make up for in schmooze. Whilst it is about who you know, there something to be said for faking it until you make it. Cover letters are merely a platform for you to explain to the employer you want to work for every single little thing you love about them. They’re embarrassing and I find them a little painful. Whilst I love talking about the publications I would like to go to, I struggle with the whole ‘selling yourself’ part. There’s nothing more embarrassing, in my opinion than listing all the things you can do in the hope that the recipient won’t think you are a complete arse hole. But it’s got to be done and I think 90% of anyone who has ever written a cover letter or personal statement feels the same.
So as I sat on my bed, tailoring each cover letter so it didn’t over step the mark of complete desperation (because lets be real, no one thinks that’s cute) it dawned on me. What if one of these letters works? What if I get a placement and have to go and talk to real adult journalists? How far will ‘fake it till you make it’ take me before they realise what a terrified fool I am?