I was 21 years old. Interviewing for an internship in the South of France as part of my degree in communication and graphic design, and these were the words of the recruiter after I just answered the question ” Where do you see yourself in 5 years”.
My Uni years were surely some of the best years of my life. Not only because they represent my first experience of “freedom”, but also because I got to travel a lot during these years. Nearly every year, I had to do an internship of 3 to 6 months. I’ve always used these opportunities to travel and work abroad. That’s how the first time I ever worked in my life was in the United Arab Emirates, in a multimedia agency in Abu Dhabi.
When I got this opportunity, I felt like I was on top of the world, the coolest kid on the block. Whilst most of my classmates were
playing it safe doing their internship locally, I was going to live a new adventure in a very uncommon destination. I was also going to speak and work in English for the first time. I was too naive at the time to be scared. I was curious and excited!
I went and worked there for 3 months. I have learned A LOT. Culturally, personally and professionally speaking. This experience would need its own post.
The following year, I decided to stay local and apply for an internship in the South of France. I applied everywhere. I finally got an interview in a small communication agency in Montpellier. Many years and work interviews later, I still remember that one.
My interviewer was the company owner. My CV caught his attention because of my previous experience in Abu Dhabi. He was curious to meet me. Fair enough…
The interview went just fine, he tested my knowledge with a few work-related questions which I managed to easily tackle. The interview slowly went downhill from there.
To end the interview, he asked me the classic question:
- “Where do you see yourself in 5 years”
I was only 21, but had a firm idea of what I wanted to do.
- “I want to work in an advertising agency as a strategic planner”
To this, he replied:
- ” You are young, a woman and you are black, it’s not going to be easy for you. You might need to think about something else.”
His words are more shocking to me now than they were then. I didn’t really clicked. I was just thinking that it was a weird piece of advice coming from an old white, obviously frustrated, man.
To this I calmly and professionally snapped back:
- ” Well, I have never been afraid of challenges. I am not afraid of hard work Sir. I am sure is not impossible”
I was born Sassy!
Fast forward a couple of years, I have worked in the largest advertising agencies, in London, as a Strategist. So Boy, Bye!👋🏽
Obviously, this guy wanted to break me down, discourage me to reach my goals, but I took it as a challenge. I wish I could see him again and tell him “Watch me, old man! I am only starting…”
It is true that words are powerful. His words were powerful as I still remember them now. But it’s our choice to let words to either break us or make us. I definitely wouldn’t say that his words “made” me, but this was one of my life experience which made me want to disappoint anyone who would want to see me fail.