It’s no secret that I once worked at the Supreme Court of the United States. What you may not know is that before I got the job, I was actually rejected for it. Twice.
Still, I knew it was destined for me and I did not give up.
My dream of working in Washington came to me that year as a junior in college. I was attending Western Michigan University and a friend who was at American University in DC had been telling me about all the fabulous summer internships she and her friends were applying for. It sounded like a lot of fun to me so I started looking into it.
I found out that the Supreme Court had a public speaking internship and it called to me above all else. I’ve always been a confident speaker and felt strongly: this is where I need to be. So I diligently applied and weeks later received a beautiful linen envelope with “The Supreme Court of the United States” written in the upper lefthand corner.
When I opened it up and discovered I had not been admitted to the program, I was quite honestly confused. It felt so meant to be for me that I thought a mistake must have been made. So I went back to my professors, got extra letters of recommendation and wrote the internship director with even more reasons why I really needed to be there that summer.
She wrote me back explaining that unfortunately, she didn’t share my opinion. Which only made me more confused. I knew I was supposed to be there…and yet this woman kept telling me no?
I think after two rejection letters most 20-year-olds would have started looking for something else to do. Instead I bought a plane ticket to DC determined to sort out this misunderstanding. I called up the internship director and said, “I’m coming to Washington. I request that you please meet with me for 10 minutes. If after that you still do not believe I’m meant for this internship, I promise to leave you alone.”
Thankfully, she agreed. This was an extensive investment for me as a college student but there was no question—I was called to go. So I flew to DC for the weekend and had a lovely chat with the internship director. At the end of our meeting she told me she was fully booked for the summer, but that if I would really like to be a public speaking intern at The Supreme Court of the United States, she would save a spot for me in the fall.
So I thought—well alright! I’ll find something else to do this summer and I’ll see you in September. So that’s how I turned a double-no into a not yet. And in the end, everything unfolded in a way that was even better than I could have possibly imagined.
I transferred to American University for my last year of college and found an internship that summer at the National Victim’s Center, a non-profit dedicated to helping victims of violent crimes. I learned so much and made amazing friends there before starting at the Supreme Court in the fall, where I met a woman who was interning at the White House. She took an interest in a research paper I was working on about how to increase political participation among young people and brought me in for an interview with the First Lady’s Chief of Staff. And that’s how I was offered my first job out of college….at the White House!
All I had seen was a public speaking internship at the Supreme Court and life gave me that and so much more. The journey taught me that you cannot always expect other people to see your soul’s calling, your true passion and your vision for your life. But just because someone else says no doesn’t mean you should give up your dream. When you put in the effort to go after what you know is meant for you and be where you desire to be, the doors will start opening.
My time working at the White House in Hillary Clinton’s office was life-changing. I am so grateful to have been around strong, powerful and generous women leaders so early in my career. Stay tuned—I cannot wait to tell you more about it next week!