Eight days in NYC. Seems fleeting, right? My answer is yes, it completely was. Consequently, I’m already planning my next trip … in a few months. Maybe it’s the energy of the city or the excitement of abundant possibility that keeps the smelly city at the top of my thoughts and at the bottom of my heart, it’s there. Unbeknown to me, there has to be something that makes living in a shoebox for an apartment, in an unfamiliar area, with people who probably feel nothing like home — acceptable, and better yet … glamorous?
What’s even crazier is that in just eight days, 19 students, faculty and staff from the University of South Carolina (this includes our ridiculously amazing professors, Dr. Sabrina Habib and Andy Burns, and mentors Shirisha Mudunuri and Karson Terry) forged a unique bond consisting of inside jokes and tough, honest-to-goodness love (special shout-out to Google Maps and the New York City transit system for cultivating this bond). This statement may be overused but that’s probably because it’s true: You can learn a whole lot about people when you spend almost every minute of every day with them, working toward a shared goal. Ours we were lucky to share was the interest to learn outside of the comfort of classroom walls. And yes, we learned more than I could’ve ever imagined to or even hoped for in such a small frame of time.
In five days we visited 14 agencies, specializing in anything from stocks to media influencers to Broadway shows, all under the vibrant umbrella of communications. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that sharing a room with these unbelievably successful professionals sparked some very real fears of inadequacy prior to meeting them all. Personally, the idea of even having the opportunity to hear these impressive women’s and men’s stories seemed untouchable and unfathomable to me –– what a naïve notion. I share this because following every interaction, these feelings of doubt ultimately transformed into authentic confidence.
To integrate the most valuable lesson that resonated with me most from this trip (and I’m sure some of my fellow students can agree), I’m going to present our personal growth as students with a metaphor. On the exterior, we’re a relatively diverse group of assorted journalism majors, ranging from freshmen to seniors, who’ve all acquired their own passions to some degree or another. This is a surface level observation; it’s intriguing and interesting enough to catch your attention but is devoid of substance. When you reach beyond that or the contents of the resume (which I still believe is important, by the way, but not important enough) we all have an internal hunger for experience and a curiosity for learning that isn’t defined by grades or a curriculum; it’s holistically based on human interaction that’s meaningful.
Ultimately, my goal is not to oversimplify this profound message weaved into almost every company visit but rather offer my take-away as a small piece of encouragement for anyone whose future they know is bright and feels their worth doesn’t exist solely on a piece of paper listing their accomplishments.
In a room full of professionals, find the individuals who are just as interested in your passions and stories as they are impressed with your written experiences. Strive for humility, and don’t be afraid to allow the light of others help you succeed beyond the comfortability of your college town.
Until next time, New York…