Shooting My (Professional) Shot

Last year, had you told me that I would’ve been heading to New York for the first time and interviewing for a writing internship with no formal experience, I probably would’ve laughed at such an absurd idea.

Funnily enough, that was exactly what happened to me last June.

Upon graduating from North Carolina State University last May, I finally worked up enough courage (thankfully, as a result of my incredible friend group) to pursue writing as my career.

It was a thought that terrified me for many reasons.

The biggest ones were my lack of experience and background. The extent of my writing experience included the scientific papers I had to write in undergrad and the novels and short stories I wrote in my spare time. My science background, however, made me feel under-qualified and honestly out of my league in comparison. How on earth could I compete for writing gigs against people who had studied this in school and/or had years of industry experience? It was easy to see the odds were stacked against me. Thankfully, my support group was good at keeping me positive as I began searching for opportunities in late June.

Being based in Raleigh, NC made things slightly more difficult when finding internships, since most writing opportunities are located in cities like Atlanta, Los Angeles, or New York City. Considering the fact I was already planning on moving out of Raleigh by the end of the summer, I expanded my options to include both on-site and remote positions in hope that eventually someone would give me a shot.

Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long.

Not even a day after I applied for the internship, Wednesday June 27th spoiledNYC formally invited me to interview in New York City for the position. Pure elation encompassed me after reading that email. As quickly as the elation rushed through me it dissipated, leaving behind uneasiness in its place. After reading the email in its entirety, I realized they were expecting me to interview for the position in person the very next day. With my paycheck not coming until that Friday, I had no clue how I was gonna get the money to go to New York last minute. I couldn’t let an opportunity like this pass me by, so I had to get creative.

Securing lodging was honestly the easiest part of the entire trip. I already had a friend living in New York at the time who graciously let me stay with him and his family for a couple days. My greatest obstacles were securing transportation and money. Unfortunately without either one my dreams of interviewing for spoiledNYC and finally visiting New York would be cut short.

I couldn’t let that happen, and so, I placed PSAs on my social media accounts in order to see if my friends or family could help.

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Luckily with help from family and friends, I was able to get enough money to buy a bus ticket to New York and my money issues were solved. I could finally relax and enjoy my impromptu three day trip.

I got on the bus late Thursday and arrived in New York City by 10am the next day. My interview was at 11.

I immediately became enamored with the city as soon as I stepped off the bus, which caused me to forget my nerves as I prepared for my interview that morning. Still lugging my suitcase along, I showed up to the interview ready to conquer. While sitting in the conference room waiting for my interview to start, I had already made up in my mind that not getting the job wasn’t an option. Somehow, I had find a way to stand out against the two other girls (with experience) who sat in the room with me.

As nerves began to come back to me during the interview, I tried to focus on the fact that I was still an exceptional writer despite my lack of formal experience. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have made it to the in person interviews! It was in that moment that I realized I needed to have more faith and confidence in myself as a writer. I walked away from the interview feeling incredibly accomplished and immensely content.

I spent the next day and a half exploring the city, with emphasis on Chinatown, Manhattan, and Harlem. I’m pretty positive I hit most, if not all, the typical tourist spots, like Madison Square Garden, Empire State Building, and Times Square just to name a few. Normally I’m a photo junkie, but I was so enthralled by the city that taking pictures were the last thing on my mind.

Exploring Harlem and getting to witness the culture of the borough was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip. As a music lover, finally getting to see The Apollo was legendary.

Getting to see the Empire State Building was another amazing highlight of the trip.

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It was a sad Saturday evening when I had to leave the city. I honestly considered not coming back to Raleigh because in those 3 short days New York came to feel like home. However, I unfortunately knew I had to return to my life in Raleigh as I waited for the verdict.

After an agonizing weekend of waiting, I found out I actually got the position as a one of their interns!

However….

I couldn’t accept the position.

It physically hurt me to have to pass on a dream position, but I wasn’t in a position to move that soon. Initially the start date was later than June, so it caught me off guard when I was told I needed to move ASAP. Although it would’ve been an amazing opportunity for me, it wasn’t time for me to move to New York and that was okay.

I honestly believe the position with spoiledNYC was meant to be a sign to trust myself as a writer. Even without formal experience, I was still enough. As a new writer trying to find my footing in the writing world, being offered that internship showed me that I had what it took to get writing gigs. Ultimately, that experience ignited a fire within me. After turning down the position, I was more determined than ever to continue pursuing writing and to find internships so that I could begin learning about the writing world.


Fast forward one year and two local internships later…

A couple weeks ago, while working a corporate event for my job, I met the lovely Ina, a poet who’d been flown to North Carolina to perform writing poetry at the event. Before even starting on my customized poem, we talked for several minutes about what felt to me like any and everything. From our experiences as writers to my sustained desire to move to New York, the conversation just flowed naturally. When she began telling me about her work with Ars Poetica, I knew it was different from any other writing experience I’ve ever seen before. Upon finishing my poem, she wrote down her name a separate card and suggested that I reach out for a writing position within the company.

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By the end of our conversation, I was sold.

As I reflect over the past year of my growth as a writer, I can’t help but recognize what led me to this point.

For my friends and family,

who initially pushed me into sharing my work and starting my writing career

For the editors at spoiledNYC,

who gave me the hope and confidence boost I needed to continue pursuing writing

For Ina,

who presented me with this phenomenal opportunity and provided me some much needed inspiration and clarity.

I am forever grateful.

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Without them I would not be here writing for Ars Poetica, an opportunity I feel blessed to have.

Oh right, I forgot to mention, today is my first day as Ars Poetica’s Fall Blog and Editorial Intern!

Keep up to date by following our blog, and follow @arspoetica.us + me, @shakilyaaa on Instagram - we’ve got great things in store.