Back to Reality: Everything is Coming Together

I have officially landed and settled (sort of) back to Grand Rapids from New York as of Saturday. It was strange to get used to the silence back at home (no sirens or honking!) and fresh, clean smelling air compared to New York, but I would love to experience it all again. 

My last week in New York was very bittersweet but by far my favorite. I got onto my plane in Newark exhausted, satisfied and inspired more than ever to go after what I want for my career and my future.

Tuesday was my very last day at Relevent and it was just as sad and depressing as I thought it would be but filled with promise. I told myself I wouldn’t cry (but I did) when I said goodbye to everyone there. They were really like family. I made handwritten thank you cards for every person there and bought a large batch of GET UP AND GO caffeinated baked goods for the whole office as a parting gift. Fellow interns Emmy and Bri also got BEAUTIFUL (and I mean the best looking I’ve seen) cupcakes for the office too! I’ll miss everyone there so much but truly appreciate all the experiences, responsibilities, and opportunities I was given there. I was able to meet people and visit places I never imagined I could go to in a million years. If any of you are given the chance to intern there, I seriously recommend it. You will never see a team of people work harder. You’ll grow professionally in 3 months more than you have in a year at school.

I also had the opportunity to meet up for the last time with Andrea Betts, a Senior Account Executive at Ketchum PR, who served as my “mentor” with the University of Michigan College of LSA DYAC Mentorship program. A wolverine graduate herself, she and I had met once before to chat about how she got to where she was today and steps she took to do so. We met in Chelsea for a quick chat over a meal there and as busy as she was (she flew in from Chicago that morning), she still made time to say goodbye to me and leave me with great advice. She provided a ton of incredible career insight in the few times we got to meet that I could never really thank her enough. Thank you to the University of Michigan for pairing me with a fabulous mentor like Andrea and for showing a current student how deep the Michigan difference runs in our alumni network.

Another “mentor” and friend I had connected with that I met up with during my last week was Josh Hayes, Senior Brand Manager of Malibu Rum for Pernod-Ricard. His background is similar to mine in that we come from sheltered areas and wanted to chase after our careers. At 34, Josh has achieved more than what many do at the ages of 40+. He went from agency life (advertising) to in-house brand management and touches on all aspects of the brand from events to client management to ad placements/media buying and so forth. He even invited me to a Malibu Rum event a few weeks prior where I was able to see another brand come to life through an event featuring Cobra Starship and a visit from Jesse Metcalfe (insert sigh of infatuation here). His advice has already proven to be invaluable and I am excited to learn from his genuine passion and hunger for success and apply that to my career. If there was any major takeaway from my chats with Josh, it was to stay humble, stay hungry, and and stay focused – do not be afraid to take chances for professional growth.

Wednesday and Thursday I was blessed with the opportunity to shadow at Rubenstein Associates for a few hours each day. With major credit to fellow wolverine and alumnus, Tom Keaney, COO at Rubenstein Communications whom I met through the University of Michigan Public Relations Workshop, I got to see the ins-and-outs of day to day operations at a major public relations and strategic communications firm. Rubenstein is a family-owned agency and industry-leader that has a diverse portfolio of clients from ABC to the NFL, NHL, and MLB to David Letterman to Rolls Royce. I was particularly interested in crisis management and got to see everything from a press conference to sending out public statements to managing media relations. I will be following up with an entire blogpost this week that goes into more detail about all that I learned during my time with Rubenstein – it would not do my incredible time there justice with just a few paragraphs. 

It turns out, however, that another experience made Relevent was in store for me! Right when I thought I said my final goodbyes to Relevent, I was invited by the CEO, Tony Berger, to attend a huge event for Casio G-Shock we were doing…as a guest. I was particularly excited for this event because I had been helping source things for it the week prior and had originally planned to assist at the event behind the scenes and at check-in. The guest invite was so generous, and I gladly accepted.

Let me stress this now.

The event was INCREDIBLE. I mean, words cannot even express how amazing this event was. To know that it was created by the Relevent team and that it was all their hard work impressed me even more. As an intern who helped put the events together, who worked behind the scenes transparently, who knows all the weeks of planning and craziness it took to pull something off like that, I was just mind blown. The vibe was perfect, the music was great, the crowd was wonderful, and the event went flawlessly and smoothly. It was very cool to experience the other side of events – the guest experience side – with previous knowledge on the planning and marketing side. Did I mention there was a performance by Eminem? I was maybe 6 rows away from a hip hop idol and his performance was outstanding. Cheers to everyone who put that together, it was a perfect evening and the best send-off from New York I could ever ask for.

On top of a visit from one of my best friends, Kamilah, as well as from family to help transition me back to Michigan, my time in New York had come to an end. I packed away notebooks full of  notes, reminders, stats, and quotes from the people I met during my time there that I will, without a doubt, be thumbing through for the rest of my career and time at the University of Michigan. I boarded my car on the way to Newark and tried to memorize the skyline out of the window. I left satisfied with my time there for three months but at the same time, hoping the city will be ready for me when I come back.

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