June 4, 2013 by Erik Michel
To those reading this, my name is Erik Michel, but you probably already knew that because my name is already on this post. I’m a member of the Class of 2014 at W&M. Currently, I’m in DC as a New Media Fellow with the W&M DC Summer Institute. The Institute is run through the school’s Washington Office located near Dupont Circle. Before this summer, I’ve only been to two areas of the city: The National Mall and the zoo. But let me tell you, Dupont is a pretty swank place, and it’s right near the heart of the city. For two weeks I spent time in the classroom in Dupont and various site visits all around the city. Now, I’m a week and a half into a 10-week, full-time internship at the DC Shorts Film Festival.
The first two weeks of classes feel like ages ago, but many of the things we learned have stuck with me. Our teacher, Professor Ann Marie Stock, jam-packed our time together with awesome discussions, fun guest lecturers, and really cool site visits (National Geographic, Discovery Channel, C-SPAN, the Newseum, The Smithsonian Museums of American History and of the American Indian, just to name a few). I could tell you countless details about this time, but there’s not enough space here to cover it all. Overall, though, there were two things that I learned over this time. Firstly, don’t go to film school. I’m a Film Studies Major (technically, it doesn’t exist, but I like to pretend it does), so film school seems like the next logical step. But I met quite a few people out in the working world who do film-type things, and the ones that did go to film school even said that it’s not really worth the money you put into it. I’m sure that most people reading this don’t care about the importance, or lack thereof, of film school, but the next thing I say should appeal to anyone reading this.
From National Geographic to the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting (Look it up. It’s pretty cool), one message resonated throughout the week: it is better to do something you love than to get payed for something you don’t enjoy. Sure, it’s a simple message, but it comes from the heart (Arthur reference. I couldn’t help myself.). Some people I know are stuck doing something they think will make them successful and rich, but is a very boring job. Others are stuck doing something they hate for very little money, but I’m sure each one would say the same thing. So have fun with what you’re doing in life. And don’t be dead-set on doing one thing either. Keep your options open.
After the class ended, I said goodbye to Dupont Circle (though I still visit sometimes), and hello to Penn Quarter, where the DC Shorts Office is, just a few blocks East of the White House. The office is small compared to most of my other fellows (except for my office mate and fellow New Media fellow Gina), comfortably fitting only about 6 people, but thankfully, the other people who work there are nice. My supervisor, festival director Jon Gann, has been in the DC area for years, running the festival as it is going into its 10th year. And as things are starting to come together, things are starting to get stressful, but I’m excited for the rest of the summer.
Anyway, I’m sure you’re tired of reading this. It’s mostly a jumble of words. I’ll write more often and not try and squeeze 3.5 weeks into one blog post. Erik out.