Updated: Jan 11
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that things could always be worse. We all went through this rollercoaster of a year, but at the same time a lot of people have come out on top while others are still struggling. There’s one word that keeps people going while others quit – Resilience. It’s a word that many people have heard, but we may not really think about what it means. Oxford dictionary defines it as,
“The ability of people or things to recover quickly after something unpleasant, such as shock, injury, etc.”.
I think that resilience can describe what is needed for this year many times over. I would add that it is something that’s built over time from life experiences. It’s the difference between victory and defeat. As we go through life, we will always be faced with challenges, but it is those that are resilient that will overcome them. I’m no different than anyone else, and I would like to share a story of when I faced adversity as I was trying to start my career after graduating college.
It was the fall of 2016, and I was coming back to school from my summer internship with Nestle USA. It was in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and I worked as a project engineer in a Stouffer’s and Lean Cuisine factory. It was a great experience where I learned a lot, and I was really excited to start my career with Nestle after I graduated. The only thing that was standing between that was one more semester of school and an official offer letter for full-time employment. It was a done deal in my head. My manager for the summer gave me a good rating and all I had to do was sit back and wait... so I thought. A few weeks went by, and I still didn’t receive any information about my offer, so I reach out to the coordinator of the program.
“There’s been a restructuring of the program,” she explained. “We’re only bringing back 20 of the 40 interns from the summer for full-time opportunities.”
I remained resolute. I got a good rating, and I had enjoyed my time over the summer, so I was sure I would be in 50% that got the offer. Fast forward a couple weeks, and it’s career fair season, and I still haven’t gotten an answer back, so I prepare to talk to other companies somewhat half-heartedly because I was holding out for Nestle USA. I talk to a few companies and get interviews for most of them and go through the process. While I was doing this, I finally got a response back from Nestle USA! It was an email that said that "unfortunately, we will not be making you a full-time offer at this time" for the program I had interned in, but they encouraged me to apply to other positions.
I was shocked, sad, and angry all at once. How could this happen?! I did everything I needed to do, had a great summer experience, a good rating, and still, I wasn’t getting an offer. I took some time to process this, but then I had a decision to make. I could revel in the disappointment, or I could pick myself back up and start job searching with vigor. I chose the latter. Through a series of events that I don’t have time to go into right now, I was able to land a job at General Mills as a Manufacturing & Engineering Associate despite the fact I had been rejected from their internship a couple years earlier. This position gave me a lot of valuable experience and it’s the reason I was able to make the jump to Purina and where I am now as a Mechanical Packaging Engineer.
Looking back, the experience I went through looking for full-time opportunities gave me a lot of experience with interviews, resumes, and networking. I made mistakes along the way, but I kept my eyes forward focused on what I wanted to accomplish, and surrounded myself with people to cheer me on. In this journey that we call life, the only thing that is guaranteed is that we will face adversities. A quote by Charles Swindoll describes life perfectly.
He says, “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.”
I know other people who went to similar situations that I experienced that got down on themselves, but never fully recovered. They focused on extrinsic factors instead of focusing on what they can control. I believe that resilience is the focus on the intrinsic. It’s in the moments where we encounter the unexpected that we respond instead of reacting. My pastor, David Blunt, said early this summer that there is power in responding instead of reacting. The difference is reacting is instantaneous and a reflex; there’s not much thought involved. Responding requires that you slow down and examine your situation, before doing anything. It’s something that takes practice, and sometimes you’ll have to respond after you react if you catch yourself focusing on the negative.
There’s much more to this story, and this was really the second big-time I had to respond instead of reacting. Most recently, I had to respond instead of reacting and stay resilient in my future and goal just a few months ago when I was at a crossroads with a new position. That’s a whole other story that I can share later, but everything did work itself out, in the end, quicker than the story I just mentioned.
I’m sure that 2020 has dealt you blow or blows that may seem fatal, but as long as there’s life there’s hope. Don’t let what you’ve gone through keep you from what you’re going to. For me, it’s my faith and the support of family and friends that keeps me going. Whatever it is that motivates you, focus on that. Keep practicing resilience, and you’ll be surprised when you look back at your life a year or 2 from now and see how far you’ve come!
Edited by Rachel Alvarado
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