The week leading up to Christmas is a crazy time full of races. These races include, but are not limited to dashing through department stores for deals; sprinting to studios and gyms for their promotions; and jotting down goals for -now- the new decade. I realized that when I went to write down my goals one thought did NOT cross my mind. It was halfway through my chicnscratch-style-cursive when I hadn’t yet thought 2019 sucked!
Like the saying goes, You are your own worst critic and I believe this carries into how we plan for the new year. Because for most people the first thing to cross their mind is Wow this last year sucked! I can say with confidence that yes 2019 did suck. But it also had some unforgettable moments. For me, this year was when I finally got to reap basically everything I sewed this past decade. Ah - as I walk down memory lane, ofc in my Gucci Aces, I think about the moments that defined it… You might not be surprised by some of the top moments that made it for me, but again my life is an open book. So sit back, scroll on, and I hope you have some laughs and awws!
Getting My BA, Despite All my BS
While there was never any doubt I’d graduate from college, there were many times when I doubted my talents in what I was studying. I majored in Writing & Rhetoric, a degree that for the most part is pretty made up for liberal arts in the undergrad. I’d say it was more like studying communications then English. But it still baffles me how I could jump from drawing diagrams of sentences, to writing about Beyonce and making videos about Ariana Grande. I can honestly say I loved my academic journey as it wrapped up in 2019. My last year was all about studying things that I wanted to, and challenging myself to prove that it mattered. Journalism and politics weren’t my focus in writing. However, I am proud to have earned distinction in my major, I was one of 3 y’all, and prove that pop culture is political.
Securing the Bag After College
Now I truly am writing this in the most humble sense, but I knew I would find my way back into the industry after college. In the last decade, I cannot tell you how hard I worked in breaking into the world of Hollywood. It wasn't just enough to be a fan of the industry, I became a scholar of it. Even when I was too young to intern at a studio or production company I was building my vernacular and skills regarding entertainment. From reading the trades at school, to constantly being on the radar at open houses and emailing recruiters, I made sure that everywhere I went someone left knowing my name. That's why when I finished school the challenge wasn't finding out what to do. My challenge was finding out where I'd want to start my career. Luckily, through the networking I'd done and work I put in I found a job that gave me a chance to do more and do real work with real talent.
Treating Fitness as a Celebration of my Body
When I came back from my semester abroad I was sure that yes it changed my life, and I wanted to work on myself. One of my biggest insecurities has always been my weight. I have been plump for as long as I can remember. And while I am truly lucky to never have faced animosity because of my weight, I was constantly beating myself up. I used to think I wasn't attractive enough to post pictures of myself, make friends, and even land my dream job. Luckily, we live in a world that is less superficial, but still is, then what I imaged in my head. This past year is when I started to focus on my health and wellness seriously. I was eating healthier and starting to be a regular at my school's gym. However, the change didn't come until I stopped having the mindset that every mile I ran was for every cookie I ate. By that I mean that I started to see fitness as a way of understanding and accepting my body. When the miles became goals I had and not a punishment, not only did the weight come off but the rest followed suit. I left my insecurities at the door and stepped into things like spin classes, weight training, heck even Crossfit! So in this past year I'm so proud to be where I'm at, and I am eager to keep it up in 2020 and see how much more I can improve my relationship with my body,
Owning Up to My Own Bills
This is something that came on later in 2019, but bills bills bills they're here to stay. I am blessed and fortunate enough to have parents who have supported my sisters and I as much as they have. I graduated college without any debt, my own car, and that's on top of the funds my parents made sure I had in school. So when I finished school, I made it a point to show my parents that their investment in me could pay off. My phone, my groceries, and gas expenses were now my own. Every trip to Starbucks was now my responsibility. Don't get me wrong, for someone who is truly new to the working thing I had no idea how to budget. But when my parents saw me making a spreadsheet with my bills and managing my money they seemed proud. I am too. I'm still a long ways away from my fortune 500 lifestyle, but I am understanding that ordering a Venti iced mathca latte with two scoops and coconut milk errr day maybe isn't the best thing to do.
Finding a Group, Or Should I Say Posse, and Sticking To It
Back in high school, I was in a cohort of students who would stay together for 4 years. At least, that was the plan. But thanks to the encouragement of the teacher leading us, I moved up to an AP track. Now moving onto to AP English from Honors wasn't major, yet I did act like I was gone all together. I grew apart from this group and notably felt sad when we graduated from high school. It wasn't that I couldn't stay friends with them, I just didn't put in the effort. That's why this highlight means so much. In this last decade, I've belonged to a posse for almost 5 years now. We've known each other since high school, went through college together, and now we're like kinda adults out in the world. These individuals all grew up with me and saw me when I was batsh!t crazy in school. And this group also saw me reach some of my greatest goals in the decade. I'm proud that in my own way, and on my own terms, I remained apart of a posse, crossing the finish line with them in 2019.
Planning a Friend's Vacay
Just like every basic girl whose IG posts about Rome reference the Lizzie McGuire movie, I came back from abroad with a travel bug. During my senior year in college, I'll admit I got some good trips in. Going to Rochester and Syracuse, NY became normal, and I got to visit Boston for the first time. (Then there was that weekend my friends and I piled into my car and partied in Toronto during senior week, ugh miss those clowning days.) As I wrote about in a previous post, planning a trip was something I needed now as a kinda real adult. It was an utter treat to reunite with some of my closest friends in the city that is full of flavour; Boston. Cheers to all of my friends who were always down to clown, and here's to my friends who have always had a couch for me to crash on. May 2020 bring more trips, more fun, and more life abroad!
Write On Willy!
I am a writer through and through. Before my love for social media or PR comes the power of the written word. Studying writing and getting to write about writing this past year was exhilarating. In 2019, I got to geek out with faculty and staff members at school about things like grammar and style. I doubt most people could understand or get excited when they read a spicy lede, but this past year I was all about it! As part of my college experience, I created a final writing portfolio. In those nearly 80 pages I made a case for who was Will and what is his voice. This past year was traced in my work with prose. I became a Writing Fellow and helped students with their process, I grew in my process, and I felt like I made a mark in my writing department. In the new year I want to continue to write for myself. I want to maintain my voice and amplify it. Connecting with people is what I love to do, and all I can hope for in 2020 is that I can do more of it on a scale I could never imagine.
Family Finally Meaning Something
Family is something that means different things to different people. Nonetheless, it's something that every person defines for themselves. However, I never really had a focus on defining family. I loved my immediate family of course. It was the idea of embracing people, trusting them, and growing with them that seemed alien to me. I'm a pretty abrasive person. I like to keep it this way to not get hurt. But 2019 was the year where I finally started to let people in. And not like fake in with banter about the weather and all that, but I really let people in. From my hopes, dreams, fears, and more, people at school and even my own family began to have pieces of my heart. I think people noticed I was more genuine. But it was only because in 2019 I learned from some of the kindest souls I will probably ever meet.
Honoring My Process of Becoming...
Hannah Montana said it first, nobody's perfect, and she was right. I don't really adhere to the idea that life is a river and you go with the flow. I believe more that we are the masters of our own fate. The universe is chaotic and there's things out of our control. One thing that each of us controls is our reaction to what comes our way. This past year I started to both own my decisions and own my mistakes. In the year I plan to continue to be a better person than I was the day before. Whether it's saying, "Please" and "Thank you," running at a .1 faster pace, or just spending 5 more minutes with a friend, I want to do things to feel like I'm growing into a person I want to be.
I had probably never, and I mean never, like never ever, been so excited to ditch the west coast than I was this past weekend. After surviving a work trip in Arkansas, I knew that it was time for me to take a break. It was actually during my time away that I started sewing together a plan for my first ever vacation since being an undergrad.
I’ve been working full time since about July and I definitely was starting to feel fatigued. All of my friends, professors, and family members warned me that the real world was not going to be easier than school. I knew better than to imagine it would be easy. But now that I was, and am, in the thick of it it’s been such a sobering experience. Like it really has been sobering, because I hardly go out and party now!
Before I talk about my trip to Boston, I think it’s important to talk about my thought process leading to this mini vacation. I’ve been working full time since July, reminder I graduated back in May. I had a very good amount of time to still have fun and live my life responsibility free. My only real commitments were paying my phone bill, filling up my car, and feeding our dog Peggy. I still had savings from school, so even these small pressures weren’t weighing on me. Something that I had not expected was that when I started working the weight and stress would start to pile on over time. For some reason, I thought that starting a job was like a sink or swim type scenario. I expected the start of this race to be the hardest. However, like any race, the real challenge is keeping your pace. With this being my first job I must admit I ran out of steam around mid-October.
I don’t remember where I saw it, but there was an article that caught my attention talking about work and stamina. There was a point made that Americans pride themselves in literally working themselves to death. This is a thought process that I not only don’t condone but can’t accept. I believe and advocate for a healthy balance of home/work life. I could never be that person who lives on red-eyes.
While some people thrive off the adrenaline of constantly being under pressure I realized that this is not how I operate. Accepting my physical, mental, and emotional stamina early on is what has made my life all the more enriching. If I had tried to match the sheer will power of my colleagues I would have burned out. If I crashed and burned not only would my team suffer, but then I’d be left without an income and no way of getting more drip for the gram. Now how I could let my fans down on the gram?!
I had never imagined that my first real vacation would take me back to a place where down jackets and Bean boots were expected. But I admit I loved my time back east! If you didn't know, I decided to head back to Boston, Massachusetts for a mini reunion with some of my closest friends. #Squadgoals cannot even contain how much these girls meant to me! And its also not bougie enough for our lifestyle brand image! Anyways, it was Veterans Day weekend and after trying to plan a trip in June, all of my friends and I finally found a time to make it happen. Allie and I were taking the weekend off and getting away. This was the second time our group would all be in Boston together since our senior year fall break. It's also kind of poetic how we reunited about a year after this trip.
The first time I ever came to Boston was to celebrate our friend Eliza's birthday. Just like that first trip, this break was an invite to do it all! We ate good food, bought some good drinks, and of course Allie and I made even party as hard as we to in The Beef and Brew! I was so glad to see my friends and just take a minute to forget about the deadlines and drama that my job was all about. I got to shut off my mind from worrying about what other people needed from me. Here I was with some of my best friends just doing as we pleased. Every night we went out and I never worried about waking up early. HA- in fact there was a day where Allie and I woke up at like 1pm to see that Eliza had already lived her life for like half the day.
While some of our friends live in Boston, I think that seeing us out-of-town friends activated their inner vacation mode too. I was proud to see my friends adulting and hearing about their lives since we left Seneca Lake. Our conversations started off in the realm of nostalgia, but ended in a sobering dose of reality. We laughed, we talked about love, and them drank to the bills we had to pay later that month.
There was a lot of fun on this trip, and thankfully many moments captured by our momager LK. I want to dedicate a separate post to that, so stay posted!
In the meantime, to all my friends and those who read this, I hope this offered you a good break. Taking a break isn't a bad thing after all! Whether it's just taking a breath or going to an intense workout, or anything you can imagine, just take a moment for yourself.
We had just arrived at my friend's house, and I announced myself through saying, "I'm home." My friend's dad said, "Welcome back...I guess." While no one thought much of it, his utterance resonated with me. It proves to be more true every-time I come back for a break.
I can call Los Angeles home, but in reality for the last 3 years Geneva, NY has been my residence.
When I talk about school, I'm constantly smiling. I am well too aware of the rose colored glasses I wear when sharing my anecdotes. But, the truth is that whether I genuinely like HWS or I've made the best of my situation, in less than a year I'll be on the steps of Coxe Hall grabbing the diploma that equated to 4 years of hard sacrifices.
I've recently worked out something harder than moving away from home. Moving away from the person you used to be. I used to think that I really knew myself. However, we are always in the process of becoming. And I have become a version of myself that is hyper focused, sharp, and also sometimes erratic. One of my strengths is how I can go from 0 to 100 in .5 seconds. It can also be my greatest weakness. I can get passionate about something so quickly. Yet, I can also jump off ship before we even hit the ice berg. It's been my time at HWS that has helped me realize this fury that is double sided.
In talking with a close friend, I know that I have a lot of potential to do amazing things in life. And I also have the potential to crash and burn if I'm not ready.
So here's to a summer where No Chill Will gets some chill. Because, we all have to grow up eventually.
Summer internships. Two words, but one phrase, that carry a lot of weight for college students of all age, including myself. Being a junior, there is the looming worry about landing that perfect internship that will set me up after graduation. There's all kinds of things you hear from upper-class men friends like, "OMG if you don't intern now you'll never get hired", "You need to intern at a huge company", or "This is your last chance to do something!" No wonder people second guess themselves and review their resume almost a dozen times looking for every comma that's out of place!
By no means am I a career guru. But, I have had plenty of experience working with professionals learning about what helps a candidate stand out in an application pool. The biggest take away is that language is key. Rarely will you get a chance to make your first impression in person, and so it is up to a carefully crafted cover letter, and reviewed resume, to get your foot in the door and your seat to that dream desk.
The resume is the heart of any application. This is the document that communicates to a reader what skills and experience you carry. Everyone will always have different resume advice, but themes I have found in conversations with professionals is that clarity, concession, and coherence is the key to a strong resume. Below are some tips that can help elevate your resume to a strong piece that ignites a conversation.
Using Strong Verbs: "Utilize" the sin of resume words! One of my Writing & Rhetoric Professors stresses the point that verbs drive the English language, and people love to read about people and places. These have become the tenets of my professional writing knowledge. Here is an example from my resume:
Here is a link to a great PDF: http://career.opcd.wfu.edu/files/2011/05/Action-Verbs-for-Resumes.pdf
Finding Relevant Experience: "What am I gonna do? I don't have any previous internship or job experience?!" I hear this one a lot, and I tell all my friends the same, "You may not have had an internship before, but what are you doing right now that is relevant?" As college students, we honestly have a surplus of time. Honestly, we are not ALWAYS that stressed. However, if you are that stressed, than you probably are on the right track. I'll explain why in a bit. Being part of clubs, sports, on-campus jobs, Greek life, etc. there are dozens of leadership positions that exists on our campuses that help cultivate your leadership skills. For example, being President of an animal shelter volunteer club means you clearly manage logistics, build relationships, manage accounts, etc. See what I mean? You often do things for fun that are giving you practical skills that could contribute to whatever company and team you intern with. Sit down and find what you do well. Once you have this down, start thinking about what you do, and don't say you "utilize" anything!
Make it Pop: For most people who have never written a resume, I notice that they end up getting an online template, or they use a basic one from their school's career office. This is fine, but you have to understand that your resume has to stand out in a sea of many. Adding a pop of color, I literally mean like on line, like honestly the most SUBTLE details, can make your resume feel fresh to someone who has gone through hundreds in one day. Using programs like Adobe Photoshop or InDesign offer a great way of working with both your font and aesthetics. A monogram never hurt anybody right?
White Space is Good Space: My last bit of advice is to let your resume breath. Do not feel like you have to get your whole life down on this 1 sheet of paper. It is both impossible and unnecessary, that is why cover letters exist. Your resume should look polished and precise. This means that having smaller margins is a good thing, and having enough space between sections is appreciated. You want your resume to look like a relaxed piece of work, instead of an investigation of who you are.
Cover letters are somewhat confusing, but I will try to explain it best I can. A good cover letter compliments your resume. It should add details and experiences that were not included on your resume, and it should invite the reader to refer back to your resume too. Despite what you may initially think, a cover letter should be brief, thoughtful, and memorable. Here is what I recommend for a cover letter.
Your First Line is Paramount: "Hi my name is...." if your cover letter starts with these 4 words, expect to be pushed aside. This is perhaps the worst way of starting off a cover letter! Why? Because your reader already knows this! A few other mistakes include "I go to X College", "I major in X" or "I am a X year." Once again, these are things your reader knows. Your first line is where you have to be direct and show that you are here to work hard, and work smart. A safe first line is, "I am writing to show my interest in X position." Short, sweet, and to the point.
Formatting: A good cover letter is seamless in style with your resume. This means that the font, margins, and spacing should be similar to each other. The top of your cover letter should often be copied directly from your resume.
End on a High Note: Before you end your resume make sure to thank the reader for their time! This may seem like a minuscule detail, but people really do forget to thank the person who gave them the time of day. I personally think that this shows how you are someone considerate and thoughtful, and not simply there for the company's name. Also make sure to include a line the invites the reader to contact you for work samples, more questions, etc. Including a line like this helps keep the conversation open, instead of done once the paper is put down.
Also, make sure you also have a great mentor who doesn't mind when you text her 3 times in a row asking for the best way of saying "I did this"! Whether it's your friend, professor, coach, etc. get as many eyes on your documents!
Words cannot even begin to describe the emotions I have felt in the last 24 hours. Three months may seem like a long time, but I woke up today feeling like I had just landed in the UK yesterday. By no means did I do it all, yet I would say I got a lot done. The most important thing I did was learn to love Norwich.
I texted my mom telling her, "I am so sad to go. But I feel done. I am happy with what I got done while I was here." That is the most important point. I was here. I went from CA to NY 3 years ago, never having left the state, and I truly made Norwich my third home. Every day was something new and it was exciting. The people I met here were the greatest part of this experience hands down. I met new friends, and I feel like I formed lifelong friendships. I joked that I came here to be an American Icon. I think I sure did come close.
Last night, it was my last time at the LCR, UEA's on campus club. It was an end of term Christmas party where everyone went all out to celebrate the end of school. However, for myself and dozens of other erasmus students, it was our bittersweet goodbye to UEA and all those we met here. I really did try to enjoy my night and dance and drink, but seeing a lot of the friends I made for the last time took priority. Granted, nearly everyone at the LCR was pissed, and I saw a few people chunder in line for the bathroom, but it was this aura of adolescence, grime, and camaraderie that made UEA such a special place to me. I will forever gag at the idea of spilling as licking, tossing VKs, and screaming, "Oi Oi!", but I am gonna miss everything else.
The Brits I met here were the defining factor in making my semester at UEA one of the greatest times of my life. From the Nelson Court kitchen, to the always packed Colman House, and my cozy (slightly grimy) home of Norfolk terrace, I got a good view of a lot UEA had to offer. Honestly, living with freshers was also the most amazing thing I could have done. My flatmates in particular, made me always feel so at home and so important to them. It was endearing, and honestly heartbreaking, as I had to start saying goodbye to them in the last few weeks. My floor was my home, and my friends here became family. Madi's flat, Hannah's flat, and all the people I met along the way were so great to us. I cannot be more thankful for having been part of their first semester in college.
Whether it was me copying, and failing, at a British accent saying, "Oh my Gad!" to learning how to properly queue for the bus, there are so many things from being here that I will take back with me.
I could spend all day writing down the people who made my time here amazing, but that wouldn't do justice to the depth and effect they really had on me. Even though I'm a junior in college, I still grew so much alongside the freshers I met. I was there for many of their firsts, just like they witnessed many of my firsts in a new national context. To say I'll miss them is an understatement, I loved my friends here so much.
I hate saying goodbye, I vow that this is only a see you later to Norwich and the gems I'm leaving behind. To my flat, thank you for loving this American slag. To my Hannah and Madi's flats, thanks for always being excited when the Americans showed up to pre. To my fellow international friends I made, thank you for always tagging along for the good times. To all my British friends, cheers on making this the greatest 3 months ever.