August 31, 2012 by Erin Spencer
- Classroom learning needs to be supplement with real-world learning, and vice-versa. From being in an office, I’ve learned so much about real media applications and how to function in a work environment. But there were also many times I had to call upon skills I learned in school to be successful in a work assignment. You can’t fully understand work without your schooling, but you can’t fully appreciate your schooling without work. I’m so grateful I had this experience halfway through my time at college, because now I have the opportunity to build on what I learned in the working world during my last two years of undergrad.
- It feels good to have a plan.Especially when it comes to the big things, like a life plan. That being said, part of having a plan is being flexible, because not everything is going to go your way. Stay alert, adapt, and don’t lose sight of your goals.
- Sometimes, the only thing standing in your way is you. There were multiple times throughout the summer I hesitated to approach someone because they were much older and higher up in the company. But every single time I got over my fear and approached them, they embraced me with open arms and offered guidance. Most even encouraged me to keep in touch after my time at National Geographic. One example is Keith Bellows, Editor-in-Chief of Traveler magazine, who I almost didn’t talk to because I was too nervous. Once I got up the courage, we hit it off immediately, and he has told me to contact him if I ever am looking for a job. Apparently, I just needed to get out of my own way.
- The life-changing events are often the ones you don’t expect. The smallest event or the most innocent comment can change the way you view the world around you. Towards the end of my internship, I started thinking about applying for a research grant next summer. I had almost given up on the idea of applying, thinking that it was just way out of my league. But while randomly talking to someone in the office about it, she asked me, “Why not?”. That one comment inspired me to take a risk and change my path.
- You can’t go at it alone. I thought I could be a jack-of-all-trades. And in some sense, I can. Having multiple skills helps set you apart from others in your field that may be more narrowly focused. However, sometimes you have to sacrifice doing it all to have someone work alongside you. Not only can you balance each other out (she probably is better than you at some things, and vice versa), it is incredibly important to have someone to bounce ideas off of. It’s amazing how quickly things can get accomplished when you’re thinking with two (or more) heads instead of just one.
Without doubt, this summer was a learning experience. But one of the most important things I realized? In two short years, William & Mary has given me the tools and confidence to make it in the real world. So now, I’m coming back a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and ready to make the most of my last two years at W&M.