Reconnecting With A Stranger – Since The Last Time We Spoke…

Quite frankly, I ought to be shunned.

It took me 3 login attempts to get back into this blog and 2 different usernames.

I won’t lie – I considered shutting this thing down and starting all over again just to not be haunted by the fact that I haven’t written in it in more than a year. But that would leave me like a dog with its tail between its legs in admitting defeat that yes – I got too busy my senior year seeking a job and then actually working hard at my aforementioned career to collect my own thoughts and write them down along the way. It’s a telling sign of my how much I have grown since, but not in the way I want it to be portrayed.

In the constant work/life battle that pervades most New Yorkers spirits and the rush of being “an adult,” I lost my itch to write, to create and as a result, to connect in deeper ways than a Facebook comment or an Instagram like. It is easy to lose the desire in finding time for you as a living human being when you become complacent with trying to experience what is within reach. And honestly, it is a very scary and intimidating thing to do to let others into your mind and become vulnerable to judgement and being misread. But now I have come to the epiphany (and not the cliche, overused version of the term) that I want to take the necessary steps so I can recall my past, enrich the present and be able to cherish it all in the future with not only friends and colleagues but with complete strangers the stories and experiences that mutually embrace and connect us all.

I am making a promise to myself to renew my vows with this blog – yes, this very blog and no other – to capture my thoughts that slip in and out of my mind and my experiences with international travels, observations and living.

I hope it touches people and that you guys will love reading about it as much as I will enjoy writing about it. Let’s make no mistake though – I want it to engage you as an individual and (hopefully!) become a 2-way conversation.

Let’s begin.

And don’t be a stranger in digging back to what I used to say and think. If I wrote it, I meant it at the time and there’s no shame in seeing the growth from that point to now : ).

xx

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Being a First-Gen & What That Really Means

Here at the University of Michigan, I’m part of a minority group.

No…It’s not about my gender or my sexual orientation. It’s definitely not about my political affiliations or tax hikes or what I think about food stamps. And it’s not your usual suspects: race and ethnicity (although I am a minority in that realm, too).

I’m a first-generation college student.

It is only now, as a senior at the Michigan, that I am truly beginning to grasp what that term means, understand the challenges that came with it, and (slowly, but surely) embrace it. Money, socioeconomic status, and talking about my family’s past had always felt taboo to me. It was hard to talk to my friends about the small everyday assumptions they made or challenges I was dealing with that didn’t make me feel ashamed, alienated, or different. If there is anyone with a distaste for pity, it was me. I had no outlet of coping with these issues without internalizing fear of judgement or misunderstanding until I heard about First-Gens.

Continue reading “Being a First-Gen & What That Really Means”

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.

Continue reading “Back to Reality: Everything is Coming Together”

Lessons Learned #1: NY, Lend me some sugar!

I apologize for the delay in writing a new blogpost. I have been so busy with work and familiarizing myself with NY! Every day I am falling more and more in love with New York City and my internship with Relevent.

Since my last post, I have thus far visited 4/5 boroughs of New York with the exception of Staten Island. My goal is to ride the Staten Island Ferry, get some pictures of the Statue of Liberty, and then explore a tiny bit there before coming back to Manhattan. Two weeks ago, I went to the Governor’s Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island to see musical acts such as Major Lazer, Passion Pit, Duck Sauce, Santigold, Big Gigantic and more. It was life changing – everyone was so positive and enjoyed every moment as it came. My favorite act was Major Lazer – they know how to put on a great show and connect with the crowd. The event was sponsored by CamelBak which provided free refill stations and branded CamelBaks (very clever) as well as by Honda, Fosters, and MillerLite among numerous other sponsors. To the left is a photo we (my roommate, her friend James, and our suitemate Julie) took at their photo activation on site.

Continue reading “Lessons Learned #1: NY, Lend me some sugar!”

What Drives YOU?

I recently wrote my second ever blog for the University of Michigan Communication Studies Department Student Intern Blog (wow is that a mouthful!). Currently, it is in its editing stage by the Comm Department but to provide a little “sneak peak,” I wrote about not only updates on my current internship for the Winter 2012 semester, but also tips on how students like myself can get their dream internship for the summer. I felt really compelled to write about this topic because I have been there (twice now…and survived!); the fury of applying, writing new cover letters, editing my resumes (yes, plural), preparing for interviews, and then starting over by researching where to apply next is extremely stressful and daunting. But when that email or phone call with an offer is finally given to you – it makes everything absolutely worth it.

Tips 8 and 9 on the Top Ten Tips list I wrote included “Be yourself in the interview” and “Make your own brand.” I now wish I could have put those tips in big, bold, capital red letters in my blog post. In what few years of experience I do have of really “making my own brand,” I realize now exactly how important those two tips are in not only standing out as an applicant but really being chosen for an offer. Making your own brand of who you are takes a lot of time, confidence, success, and failure to formulate and understand. Who cares if you were the President of X Sorority and Y Club? If you don’t have a narrative behind why you did what you did and what really drives you as a person and potential employee, the interviewer and company really do not have the time to figure that out for you.

Like most other college students, I, too, am trying to build my brand and what makes me unique. If I were to answer that question, I would say what drives me is my family’s past. This may be a cliche answer to some but the few who do know why I try as hard I do in every club, organization, society, and task I am given do understand. My brand is to go to school for everyone else who never could in my family. My parents and oldest sister, Quan, escaped Vietnam in 1978 after its fall to communism. They left on a 50 foot fishing boat crammed with other refugees and sailed for nine days, running out of food on the third day. They also survived two savage storms before they hit the shores of Malaysia to live in a refugee camp for three years. My parents and sister came to the United States with $50 dollars in their pocket, a baby girl, barely a high school degree, and essentially no knowledge of the English language. They worked unglamorous jobs in the past and saved every dime they could to ensure a bright future in the 1980s onward. Eventually, my parents even sponsored the rest of their family members (15+ siblings and both of my grandmothers) to North America, all of whom are now very successful. If they can succeed and send all four of their children to Northwestern, the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University, and later for Quan, a Masters degree at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, I know I can do something to continue their legacy and show them that their sacrifices will be rewarded with tenfold success.

When I give the “skinny” (can you tell I love Starbucks?) version of this story to employers, I do not say it because I want pity or anyone to feel bad for me – I want to show them how hungry I am for the opportunity and what makes me who I am; a confident, established, and extremely driven young woman with a whole world in her hands to explore. My determination that stems from my family background shows in everything on my resume.

My family is the American Dream and that is what drives me. So you tell me… What drives you? What ties your story together with your goals? Once you have that figured out, run with it.

P.S. Be genuine, humble, and honest in your interview. Your word is very valuable in your career.

P.P.S. I checked out the new “jcp” look in the store…I am not that impressed yet; in fact, I am confused by what their three color categories of deals are (when do they happen? on what?). However, jcp defending Ellen DeGeneres after she was attacked by conservative groups for being the new jcp spokesperson was an excellent PR move…If I ever have time (…), I want to write about that!

– LM