Recently I experienced a rather disheartening setback. I was chosen to intern for an incredibly exciting new women’s rights organisation, scheduled to start this month. Long story short, the government cut the organisation’s funding this year, leaving a bunch of people without employment and me without an internship. I will not disclose the institution’s name here, because I don’t know how official this news is, but I still wanted to mention it, because it has been a serious reality check for me.
For quite a while now I have been dreaming of a career in non-profit management. I know that I need my future job to be meaningful, and I am not a very materialistic person. I didn’t think that my approach to this idea was naive or ill-informed; I didn’t feel like I had any illusions.
this is an origami unicorn to illustrate my hopes and illusions. you can find more wonderful examples by clicking on the image
This incident, however, has made me realize that not only was I planning on working in a sector with very few material rewards, it also offered little security. At the end of the day, no matter how important the work you’re involved in is, you are always dependent on keeping that money flow going, just like in any other business sector. That money may come from the government or from private sponsors, but it’s still money that dictates whether or not you are able to do what you want to do, and what you think is important and worthy of involvement.
I got really depressed for a few days. I wondered whether I had been building castles in the sky all this time, and whether what I really wanted to do was actually worth it. I told myself, I could still find something else to do, something a little more prospective. I wish I had skills (and passion) relating to technology, or science, or customer service. I blame my girl brain, or my gendered upbringing, that I am useless in jobs that actually pay. Or perhaps it’s just my subconscience telling me: “You’re not in it for the right reasons.”
So I am happy to let you know that these realizations have not made me want to give up, on the contrary. They will make me stronger in the long run, because I now have a better understanding of how to approach my career; I know now that I have to offer a lot more than just good intentions and idealism, and I am willing to go the extra mile, because knowing that I didn’t compromise my dreams and convictions will make it all worthwhile in the end.
In other, more hopeful news: I am excited to announce that I have been chosen to be one of six new junior editor interns for the wonderful blog Gender Across Borders. My first article is due to be published by the end of this month, so I will keep you posted.
You know what they say: Failure isn’t failure if other opportunities arise.
So long and keep up the good fight.