I want to do something different today for my post. A lot has happened in my life the past couple of months, and instead of just having a Facebook or Instagram post about it, I figured I would put it in a blog.
Well on December 13, I wrote a post titled “Why I am an Education Major.” It’s pretty self-explanatory what it is about. Anyway, that is not the point. What is the point is that a few days later, one of my best friend’s moms (who does a lot of research on scholarships) left a comment on my Facebook notification for that post about a scholarship. This scholarship is only for teachers; in fact, it is titled “Next Generation Teacher Scholarship” (real creative name, I know). Also, this scholarship was $7,500 a year and is renewable. The deadline to apply was December 31. (I found out about this December 16).
The qualifications and process were definitely rigorous. Academic requirement was top 20% in the class, or a certain ACT or SAT score. I had to respond to the question, “Why do you want to be a teacher?” I also had to be nominated from a guidance counselor or school official (if I chose my high school) or a licensed professor (if I chose college, which I did). Well, I chose the head of the social studies education department, who I had a class with my first semester. I emailed her the blank form and received a glowing review a few days later from her. I got all the paperwork filled out just a few days before the deadline. If they accepted my application, and I was in the top 60%, I would be a finalist and get an interview.
Then came the dreaded process of waiting. They told me I would get an email about where I stood by January 31. I hoped it would be before then, and I eagerly checked my inbox all the time. Well, they went all the way to that deadline. (Side note, January 31 was also the day I got my job.) That afternoon, I got an email from the scholarship people. It came across on my phone first and I got really excited. I opened my laptop and read,
The Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship Selection Committee recently met to review more than 640 applications for the 2017-2018 academic year. The selection process for Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship recipients has two phases: (1) the student application review and (2) a regional interview. After careful consideration, the committee has recommended that you proceed to the next phase of the selection process. Congratulations!”
It proceeded to tell me that when and where my interview was. Thankfully, it was at the high school five minutes from my house, and it was when I was home for spring break. For the interview, I was told to prepare an answer to the question, “What qualities are needed to be an effective teacher?” Luckily, one of the girls who lives next door to me, her mom is a teacher. So she asked her mom, and her mom gave me some good qualities. I thought of some of my own as well, and I formed a decent list. I was allowed to have a guide for my presentation, it just could not be digital. So I wrote one notecard only listing the qualities I had.
My interview took place at 10:45 on Saturday, March 11. I was told to arrive fifteen minutes early to check in. I arrive on time, and I am handed an envelope with two name tags in it (one for me and a smaller one for the judges). Well, I opened the envelope, and the name tag I was supposed to wear said Hannah Peters. So I walked back downstairs, thinking to myself that I know that name. I got my actual name tag, and it clicked. There was a girl at my rival high school that played girl’s basketball. I did not know her personally, but I knew of her. However, I did not know her personally (I also was never sure if I was right because I never saw her, nor do I know her major). Anyway, crisis averted. There was like seven or eight of us who were all scheduled for 10:45, and we were all debriefed together on what was going to happen. We then all went to separate rooms to be interviewed. I had a man and a woman interviewing me. They asked me six questions, most of which required me to think on my feet and required some in-depth answers. I answered all of them quickly, not because I was nervous, but because I can think quickly. Then they asked me the question I had prepared for. I listed all my qualities, and told them why those qualities were important. The woman was impressed that I only had one notecard. They told me I would hear back from the scholarship by April 15, and then they thanked me for coming in. I left with high hopes. I thought my interview went well, and I was there for less than half an hour.
So again I waited. I waited for over a month. Finally, on April 11, I got an email from them:
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education would like to thank you for applying for the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship. Determining the scholarship recipients was a difficult decision because of the outstanding quality of the applicants. We regret to inform you that you were not selected to receive the scholarship for the 2017-18 academic year.”
I was heartbroken. I had never been rejected for something like this, or something as big as this. I knew I could reapply next year, but it still hurt. So, I did what I always do when I’m upset or stressed. I had a good cry and got it out of my system.
The other thing that happened took far less time than that, and I kind of came upon it by accident. When I was home on spring break, my mom took a day off to spend with me. My sister’s spring break was the week after mine (we overlapped a weekend) and her birthday was that Monday. So my mom was going to spend my sister’s birthday with her and wanted to spend a day with me (even if it wasn’t my birthday). So my mom asked me what I wanted to do and offered a few suggestions. “We could go to a movie, go shopping, go to a museum…” Oooo. The thought of a museum sparked my interest. I had not been to a museum in a while, and as a history nerd, I love them. So I told my mom that I wanted to go to the Indiana State Museum. My mom then looked up the museum’s hours to plan the day. However, apparently the hours were hard to find. Instead, she found that the Indiana State Museum offers internships. She suggested I apply for them, and I did. They offer quite a few, and I applied for most of them. I heard back from the Director of Interns (not sure if that’s his official title, but that’s his description), and he told me he would process my application.
Well, he processed my application, and I was contacted before the end of the month of March from someone in the education department at the museum. We set up a phone call interview and talked about what I would be doing in the summer. Basically, the education department is in charge of summer day camps from Memorial Day weekend to the last week in July. However, helping to staff the camp would not be the only thing I would do. I would also help to create evaluations for the campers, help prepare for the camps, and assist the woman I would be working under with anything pertaining to the camps. At the end of the phone call interview, we scheduled an in-person follow-up. However, something came up that day, and it was rescheduled. So I drove down to Indianapolis in the middle of the week a few weeks ago (Wednesday, April 5) after my classes. I dressed somewhat nicely with what I had on hand up here in Muncie (slacks and a dress shirt) and went to the museum. I walked in and the man at the information desk asked if I worked there. I told him I was applying for an internship and was meeting someone. So he took me over to the ticket counter (I could easily have walked there myself, but I think he wanted to be helpful), and I waited for the woman I had talked with on the phone. A few visitors to the museum looked at me as if I were a staff member as well. My interviewer arrived, and we had a sort of informal interview. One of the first questions she asked me was, “You go to Ball State, right? What dorm do you live in?” I was really thrown off by this question, and after I answered, she said, “I went to Ball State for my undergrad.” (Ah, makes sense.) She asked me questions, and I answered them to the best of my ability. Having just been interviewed less than a month prior, I was quick to think and respond. We concluded the interview, talked Ball State some, and I left. She said she would be in contact with me in a week or two to let me know, but again, I felt good about it.
I went home, had dinner with my parents, and drove back up to Muncie that night in pouring down rain. I was almost completely soaked by the time I reached the shuttle bus. Ironically, the next day, I got a call from someone else at the museum, offering me a different internship. I told him I had already been interviewed and he wished me luck. The day after, I got this email from her:
I wanted to follow up on our interview earlier this week. I’d like to formally offer you the internship…”
Woohoo! I got the internship! I actually start the Monday after my finals week, so I have almost no break. The downside to the internship is that it’s unpaid, but it provides me with great experience, and that makes it worth it all.
I did not get the scholarship, but I got the internship. I am not even done with my freshman year of college yet, and I have a great internship this summer, and a potential job on campus lined up starting next semester. I know a lot of people hear that only juniors and seniors have opportunities like this. That is simply not true. A lot of times, positions just require you to be proactive. Do not be afraid to reach out to someone. You might find something truly incredible. Also, dress nicely for any interview, ever. You make an impression with your clothes. Make sure it is a good one. Be overdressed rather than underdressed and who knows? You may be mistaken for a staff member!