Yesterday, I got something for Christmas that I wanted this past semester which is quality time with my father back in New York City. I didn’t have a long gift list this year as all I wanted were the experiences of spending time with my father watching football games. When you go to school out of state, you miss simple things like the comfort of your bed, your neighborhood, and of course being around family members. The reason I couldn’t wait to go home for Christmas break this year though was because I wasn’t enjoying the first semester of my senior year nearly as much as I imagined I would have. I cut down on my involvements to begin the semester yet I still ended up having major commitments that piled up and though I had high expectations for my classes that quickly changed for a few courses. This past semester I felt the same I did as a freshman struggling to stay afloat academically and socially while going through personal anxieties. There were a few racially biased incidents at Boston College that made it hard to navigate through campus as a black student. While there’s a long history of students of color dealing with discrimination and microaggressions at predominantly white institutions such as Boston College, I worked on trying to build a place for myself on campus. I used to identify with the school slogans of “Ever to Excel” and “Men and Women for Others”, but watching the institution barely respond to racist incidents and seeing how the institution failed a lot of my friends of color I don’t have the same feelings for Boston College that I did four years ago.
If college wasn’t already hard enough as a person of color navigating a racially tense campus this semester, then being a person of color applying to full time positions has doubled the difficulty of senior year. “Diversity” is the hot word that every company talks about in terms of initiatives to help underrepresented groups, yet I haven’t landed a job offer even though I’ve been networking and practicing. In my past internship at Discovery Communications this summer one experience has stayed with me as I’ve been on the job hunt. During one of the executive meetings my supervisor scheduled, a senior executive asked all of the interns to introduce ourselves and say how we heard of the advertising sales intern position for Discovery. Of the ten interns in my department, I was the only person who didn’t get a referral from a family member or close family friend who worked at Discovery Communications but had applied online. I applied to about forty internships last year yet only got one offer and I’ve been having a harder time applying to full time roles than I did to receive that one internship. At each interview I try my best to demonstrate my strengths and how my perspective as an African American male can bring diversity in a role, yet I’ve only gotten rejection emails. Applying to jobs is very time consuming which is also a reason why I’ve felt drawn away from academics this past semester and more stressed.
If I had to diagnosis what went this past semester I would say that I got hit with the perfect storm of anxiety inducing external forces and senioritis to be down in the dumps for all of my first semester. Being home for the holidays has been a great treatment for my ailment and to help me think about my last semester of college. As a first generation college student, I learned a long time ago that my college experience will not be the same as my peers given the pitfalls we face academically and financially, but I found beauty in the uniqueness of my experience which has been forged by struggle. To get to where I am now I failed at more things I succeeded in and to get to where I want to go I’ll fail some more before I find success. I’m a firm believer that failure breeds innovation as success is only an adaption of past failures which is why I feel confident that next semester will be different. Do I imagine getting 4.0s across the board or landing a job that pays me so much I could fill an olympic pool of $100 dollar bills to swim in? Probably not, but I will aim high and try to get as close to the ideal goals I set for myself knowing that if I fail at one thing I’ll try an alternative plan.