Dear Future Employer,
I won’t tell you the same things you’ve probably heard a hundred times from potential candidates. Saying “I’m a hardworking people-person who is a fast learner with an acute attention to detail” might be a bit cliché. I also won’t tell you that I’m the “perfect candidate” for the position, because I’m not sure if such a thing even exists. No matter how many of these qualities I possess, I’m the furthest thing from perfect because first and foremost, I’m human. More specifically, I’m currently a UC Berkeley senior double majoring in English and sociology who’s terrified about my post-graduation fate.
I’m the kind of person who likes to plan ahead and prepare, and for as long as I can remember the idea that college should be my ultimate goal has been embedded into my mind. But with graduation quickly approaching, the burning question of what will happen after college is making the anxiety a little more intense and the future’s unpredictability a little scarier. Will my two bachelor’s degrees and four years of work experience and volunteering amount to unemployment and force me to live in my parents’ garage? Who knows?!
(Okay, that may have sounded a little extreme, but we can’t rule out any possibilities here — am I right, or am I right?)
After taking some time to reflect, I’ve had a number of revelations about myself and what I really want. For instance, I’ve realized that I haven’t been afraid of not being rich or not landing the fanciest job right after college. I’ve just been afraid of not being successful. More specifically, I’ve been afraid of not living up to the idealized expectation I’ve set for myself.
Being a perfectionist is a double-edged sword — I put my entire heart and effort into everything I do, both in my personal life and at work, but I learned that because of how much things can change over time, perfecting a goal for my future is almost impossible. I can’t help but laugh at myself whenever I think back to my sophomore year of college, when I spent a considerable amount of time in Silicon Valley and compared myself to the people I met there. I remember seeing their fancy cars and outfits and thinking to myself, “That’s the kind of success I want.”
But what is success? Every person defines it differently because it’s a relational concept, and in hindsight, comparing myself and my abilities to others led me to set my sights on achieving a lifestyle that isn’t true to who I really am or what I really want. I have found that as of today, however, my definition of success is being able to do what I love and doing it well and using my success to give back to the ones I love. Sounds cheesy? Probably, but it’s the truth.
You see, Future Employer, both of my parents are immigrants: My father came to the United States as a refugee from the Vietnam War, and my mother left the Philippines in her mid-20s in hopes of better opportunities. Considering all they’ve done for me, I think it’s unnecessary to even say that I owe everything I am and everything I’ve accomplished to them. Yes, I chose to apply to the jobs and volunteer positions listed on my résumé, but I’m not born with an innate willingness to put myself out there. My parents taught me how to be a go-getter, and because I’ve been blessed with the audacity to call myself a born-and-raised American with an American education, the least I can do is pay it forward.
Nevertheless, I’m proud to say that I’m learning to embrace my fear and use it to strengthen my motivation to keep searching for you, Future Employer. But this also doesn’t mean I’ll settle for a job I don’t like. Throughout my quest to find you, I’ve realized that for a long time I’ve put other people’s best interests ahead of my own, and this whole job-searching process has taught me the importance of addressing my own best interests as well. After all, how can I do my job well if I’m unhappy?
Jim Carrey once said the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is, so I want a job I can not only succeed at, but also be passionate about. Because when someone is passionate about something, everyone around them can benefit from that positive energy.
I’m not going to force myself to fit into the mold of your company, nor will I pretend to be anything I’m not just to get a job. But what I will do is be myself and hope that by working with you, I can achieve the best version of myself. So if you say no, that’s okay. I won’t let a “no” stop me from trying.
I hope to meet you soon one day.
Your future candidate