Pressure

You can practice a presentation as much as you want, but nothing can prepare you for staring down the barrel of eight VPs’ eyes as you try to justify your existence at the company. I had rehearsed my presentation. I had rehearsed my presentation, A LOT. I knew every single word in it’s precise order by the time it was time for me to present. 

But I learned very quickly, as soon as I found myself standing in front of a panel of VPs, that saying a bunch of words over and over to yourself can only bring you so far. Nothing indicates how well you know something or how confident you are than when you’re under pressure like that.

For the first 80% of my presentation, it all went according to plan. Running on adrenaline, slides flew by in a blur. I don’t even remember that first 80% – it was all robotic. I distinctly remember thinking, “Wow, I’m doing pretty well right now…”, and then I froze. Of course. It felt like a bottomless pit was in my stomach. I stared out silently at the audience. I babbled on for what seemed like a good minute or two before I decided to pause, compose myself, and get back to the script. I finished without any further blips but that slip up tarnished my perfect performance I had worked so hard for. I let the pressure get to me and I buckled.

I learned that I should never memorize speeches or presentations like. Know your subject matter intimately and the points you want to make then speak from there. It comes with practice. And boy, do I intend to practice. Never again.

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Offer

Nothing can fully illustrate the elation I felt when I got my full-time offer. Cleverly disguised as a meeting to discuss the transition into the next intern, I went in prepared to provide suggestions for improvement. I sat down with the VP of Lubricants, he shuffled some papers on the table and said, “So… onboarding… just kidding. We’re giving you a full-time offer.” I was speechless.

I couldn’t stop smiling. Nothing could keep my from smiling like a blissful fool as the VP described the terms of the offer to me. I couldn’t hear half of what he was saying, I was too busy thinking about what the offer represented. It was the fruits of my efforts all summer. It was the culmination of three months of 6am wake ups, 11pm bed times, and hundreds of hours of work. Although I didn’t accept right on the spot – I wanted to talk to my parents first – I knew I was going to take the job. I signed the offer later that night and sent it back, I couldn’t wait until the morning.