Editor's Column: Having The Strength To Accept A Helping Hand
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 24, 2013 21:02
A few days ago, I received a call from my father that made me simultaneously smile in appreciation and worry about my capabilities as a 20-year-old college student. As everyone is aware, we have passed the time period in which it is socially and financially acceptable to spend the summer sleeping until 2 p.m. and watching reruns of Saved By The Bell. Even though we are still students, we have to prepare for our futures, and the most logical way of fulfilling this goal can be answered in one word: internships.
Last summer I interned with an online local news company, and I remember my father laughing as I drove to various locations to cover events ranging from firemen’s parades to school board meetings. Yes, I gained invaluable experience, but what had my father confused was why I would spend 20 hours a week writing articles and attending meetings without even being paid. The concept of an unpaid internship may be baffling to adults of my dad’s generation, especially coming from a family where my parents, aunts, and uncles were working even before they owned a car.
My father must have realized that it was time for me to make some cash, and that’s when the call came. He told me about all the paid internships that he found for me, and I was so grateful that he decided to take time out of his schedule to help me with the process, even if all he did was type “internships” into Google and tell me about a website called internships.com. He specifically pointed to an opportunity at Liberty Mutual Insurance, a company he previously worked for, telling me that it would be a great way to try something new (read: useful).
Two things about this situation were highly disconcerting: that my father was doing something that I should be taking care of myself, and that I was expected to rely on connections to obtain a position. How could I ever expect anyone to treat me as a serious adult if I relied on my parents to find jobs and internships for me? Even though I sometimes feel like I don’t have time for “real life” amidst all of my assignments and readings, part of being a responsible member of society is planning for the future, no matter how busy you may be. Complete independence is only a mere two years away for me, so I might as well get a head start now before I’m completely immersed in a life outside of classrooms and 11 p.m. runs for mozzarella sticks.
The second concern is a deep fear of mine—that I’ll never be able to find a job on my own, and I’ll have to depend on who I know to have any sort of career. My first internship was also based on a connection—one of the reporters for the company had interviewed me for an article, and she encouraged me to apply for an intern position at her company. My father had the same idea by suggesting I apply for his own company, which made me feel as though my credentials and personal characteristics alone aren’t enough to incite employers to hire me.
Upon further consideration of this situation, however, I came to a realization: while we do need to start assuming responsibility, this is also one of the last times when it will be acceptable and encouraged to seek guidance. From professors, to the career center, to workshops about composing a resume and cover letter, there is an abundance of resources available that will not be so readily accessible after graduation, so why not take advantage of them while we are here? If BC believes that students deserve to be helped along the way, maybe it’s not time to assume full responsibility quite yet. I have always been told that it’s okay to ask for help, despite the fear of seeming incapable.
So perhaps asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but just a way of proving that you are strong enough to seek the best possible advice as a means of self-improvement. It’s about admitting that we don’t have to have it all together at this point in our lives, and trusting that we’ll get there at some point. For now, I’ll try not to feel as guilty when I send my mom a copy of my resume to review or when I ask my dad to keep his eyes open for jobs in the PennySaver. The three of us really do make a pretty good team.