I remember my dad always saying: education is the key to success and therefore you have to study hard and invest in your future. 

Lucky me I was quite a good student and I always learned quickly. It has been like this ever since I was a little girl. I devoured books, was always being creative, got private English classes and was a computer geek. My parents would invest in anything that was good for my development, because they thought it would help me get ahead in life. Anecdote: when my English teacher in high school met me for the first time he thought I had an English speaking background as he thought my level of English was that well. So my parent’s efforts were apparently paying off as I grew up.

In high school I was often seen as a bookworm and people were only friendly to me when they needed me for copying my answers. At one point I was fed up with my image and the fact that people abused my knowledge. I wanted to be cool too and not being used. I started neglecting my studies and tried to fit in. At one point I was that far behind that my ‘’copy cat friends’’ started to fail their exams too and then they didn’t need me anymore. I said to myself: Screw them all. There are people that like me as a bookworm and I am going to fight for what I want as I wanted a good future. If I would believe my dad, it would be thanks to my study.

I graduated at the age of 17 and decided to go to university to study International Business. I only had vague ideas about what I wanted to become in life. I liked my economy and management classes, but wasn’t really sure what specific area I wanted to study in. Therefore International Business was great for me. This is a broad study that tackles all Business subjects and therefore helps you to mould your personality and preference towards a career. I opted for the English instruction language because I wanted an extra challenge in my study; so all of my courses were in English (My mother tongue is not English).

Next to becoming an adult and a young professional, my time as a student made me the person that I am now. I learned a lot about myself and my ambitions and learned to embrace myself. I wasn’t focussed anymore on what people could possibly think of me but I was becoming a better version of myself, step by step. This is by the way still something I strive after. To never stop but to keep moulding myself. My study brought me incredible opportunities. I studied in Paris for a semester and did amazing internships in London and Barcelona. These opportunities have been the best presents I ever got. I am extremely grateful that these opportunities came on my path, I am proud of how well I managed (I started with this all when I was 19) and I even feel blessed.

These opportunities didn’t come easily towards me. I worked really hard for it and committed a 100% to make it work, as each investment would be great for my development. When I graduated, I was 21 years old and I had been able to live abroad 3 times thanks to my hard work and study. Was my dad right after all? Was all my hard work going to open a gate to success?

When I graduated I was on a cloud. ‘’I am a young professional, have worked really hard, I am smart and ambitious. Hello new job, hello new success story life’’. That was my attitude for just a little while. I fell of that cloud really soon and faced reality when I kept on sending applications and receiving nothing but rejections or no answer at all. ‘’Wait, what? Why does no company hire me?’’ I ended up getting depressed and really disappointed in myself. I was working on myself since my childhood and still nobody sees my talents?

After 3 months I needed money. Being young and running out of savings calls for tough measurements. I took the first job that was offered to me. Customer Service at one of the biggest funding institutions in my country. Seems easy, answering phone calls, registering the conversation and repeat. I can tell you this job is highly underestimated. Answering phone calls full time, being cursed out and disrespected by your clients multiple times a day and having colleagues that rather see you leave is really stressful and depressing. I was unhappy, felt worthless each time clients told me I was ‘’just a receptionist’’ and that I didn’t know anything. There was even a time that colleagues gossiped about me, which almost got me fired.

After some months I lived on autopilot, was losing weight and hair, slept poorly and cried every day. I was a total wreck and couldn’t understand why I was in the necessity to be in this type of environment only because I needed money. I made a risky decision. I took my manager aside and told her how ambitious I was in regard to my future and that I didn’t see my talents fully come into practise in that department. I even asked her if she perhaps could help me move within the company. She said she understood where I came from but that there was no place for me within that company, not within X amount of years. We came to the mutual agreement for me to quit.

I quit in Summer time of this year and I am still unemployed as we speak (I am 22). Again my winner’s mentality is still there and I fill my days with writing applications and receiving rejections. I have emotional ups and downs and still question myself if I worked that hard to be in such unfortunate situation. I know that there are lots of young professionals like me struggling to find a job. Competition has never been so tough as these days and companies want you to be as young as possible with more years of experience than your actual age.
I have more job interviews compared to when I just graduated however, I never make the cut, it seems that it’s never good enough.

When I present myself as a professional, the feedback I receive is that I am too serious and that informality is key these days. When I am still professional but more informal, I am not taken serious and I am being judged as childish. When I am being passionate and determined it is claimed for me to be too dynamic and overconfident and that I shouldn’t be like this because I am just a starter. Then I tried to step back from this fierce attitude and got called passive.

The judgements at my final interviews were:
1. You are too creative for Marketing.
2. You are a great girl with a good attitude and personality. We are sure you are able to do the job and you present yourself really well. Yet, a little voice tells us we can’t hire you (Hold it, I am actually a good match but you still don’t want to hire me? For real?)

(I left out the comments about my incapacity to fulfil the job and the fact that a more experienced person has the ultimate preference – how should I be more experienced anyways if I don’t get the opportunity)

I am completely confused. Sometimes I am able to accept how things go, but there are also times where I question myself if I am doing something wrong or I simply did everything for nothing? Are all my efforts a waste? I hate waking up with no purpose. Which makes me wonder: are we ever good enough?