Though it was our second week of training for Eureka, we also got our first chances to interact with the Girls Inc girls this week. On Tuesday, the cohort went to help with the Girls Inc Externship training. The Externship program places high school junior and senior girls into internship positions at companies in Orange County, and their training has the goal of preparing the girls for everything they need to get a job and succeed in the workplace.
We helped the girls with resume reviewing, interview preparation, and presented on how to pitch an idea in the workplace. I appreciated that the program was taking the time to cover these things, especially because it is the exact kind of education that high schools are often lacking, but I was even more impressed by the girls we met that day. During resume review, many girls I talked to already had really amazing accomplishments – everything from already working in research labs to playing at Carnegie Hall. One of the girls I worked with was very quiet and unsure about what to write, but we soon had trouble fitting all of the things she had done onto one page. She asked me if the awards she had won were okay to put in the “accomplishments” section, and if it was bad that she only had two “experiences” (one of them an internship and the other her job as a certified lifeguard). She was not convinced even after I explained that for someone her age, she was already way ahead of the game. Her frustration reminded me of the days when I looked at my own college resume and told myself that it would not be good enough. Being on the other side of it is helping me understand that a piece of paper should not be defining someone’s worth as a person.
When my cohort discussed the day during our van ride home, we all had similar stories. Many of the girls were set to go to impressive colleges but were under intense pressure from their home and school environments. Others had done amazing things but did not realize just how cool they were. We wanted the girls to feel more confident because they truly are awesome, but were at a loss for how to change the system that was putting them under all of this pressure, because it is a system that we have all been through ourselves and struggle not to perpetuate.
At Eureka, we will be working with girls younger than the externs that we interacted with this week. What I want to keep in mind during those weeks is what I wish someone had told me at their age: that they are enough, no matter how long their resumes are, that everything they do makes them unique and deserving in their own ways, and that they deserve the world, because they are strong, smart, and bold girls.