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Jun 21, 2024

I Failed My Way Into A Dream Job

I did a few internships. Most were unpaid, one illegal, and the last went bankrupt.
I Failed My Way Into A Dream Job

First time interning and wearing a suit. Source: Đan Nguyễn.

That was my first year after graduation.

It was a true story. I was 21, excited to go home after six years in the UK. I thought everyone would want to hire me.

Then reality set in. It was 2012, and there was a global downturn. Most companies didn't respond. A few did, telling me I didn't have enough "experience".

After a few months of anxious searching, I got off my high horse and began to look for "experience" (i.e., an internship).

I came across this forex company. I didn't know what forex was, but it sounded cool. They hired me on the spot (and restored my confidence).

I quickly realized something was off. Why was I writing fake customer reviews if they could make a 10X return?
I quit after a few weeks.

Next, I was determined to join a "legitimate" company, so I applied to a large audit firm. The manager saw my resume and said, "You're overqualified to be an intern". I assured him it would work out because audit is what I want to do for life.

It's been a decade since this photo was taken. Source: Đan Nguyễn.

On my first day, he introduced me as a "senior intern" to everyone. My lifelong work with auditing only lasted for three months.

Then, I joined a start-up. It seemed like everybody there was an intern, and maybe that's why I fit in right away.

Perhaps, my destiny is to help build the next Facebook. Maybe not. Five months after I joined, the company ran out of money and shut down.

I was at my lowest point. I felt I had failed even before I started.

A friend told me about this consulting firm out of nowhere. They were urgently hiring. That is how my journey with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) began.

Steve Jobs said, "You can only connect the dots looking backwards". Looking backwards, I can somehow connect all the dots:

  • The Forex internship made me understand the importance of ethics (and how to detect fake reviews)
  • The audit internship helped me to realize I like to work with numbers (and never to say "I want to do this for life" in an interview)
  • The start-up experience showed me how hard it is to be an entrepreneur. I also met a friend who referred me to BCG here. Without knowing her, I might never get into BCG.

So, if you are feeling lost, please remember that it is part of the journey. Navigating a career can be hard, but we can always navigate ourselves. Keep going, make each "dot" as meaningful as possible, and trust that all the dots will somehow connect.

I hope you can always connect your dots.