From textbook to checkbook.
From dining hall to conference call.
From Spring Break to handshake.
How this girl:
...stumbled upon one of the greatest experiences a freshman in college could ask for and what she's learned along the way.
*Obligatory Disclaimer: All the words/thoughts/puns in this post are of my own brain and do not represent those of the company that I work for. With that said... Onward!
I work full time at a great local startup company here in Austin, TX. I began as a marketing & communications intern in the Spring of 2016 (my freshman year) and since then, I have worn many different hats and have worked on a handful of various projects within the company. Currently, I serve as the project manager and marketing liaison. I love what I do. I love who I work with. I love the mission that drives our company forward and I love the change that we strive to create within the community.
I am often asked, "Lexie, how'd you end up doing what you do?" And to that, my most frequently used response is "I was just really really lucky". And I was. I happened to somehow meet some of the greatest people I've come across in my adult life through a series of quite fortunate events. But on top of that luck was a certain amount of focus and dedication.
To get the full story, you have to rewind back to the Fall of 2015 - when I started my freshman year on The 40 Acres as nothing but a small burnt orange longhorn babe. If you know me, you know that I am pretty bad with change. And going to college was one of the biggest changes I'd ever had to face. Long story short? First semester freshman year SUCKED. I was not a happy camper. And through the misery of that first semester, I somehow got it into my head that my intended business degree was all wrong for me and that The McCombs School of Business was a poisonous, cut-throat, environment filled with suited-up robots who wanted nothing more than to see me fail!!!! (Yeah, I know. Mom says I'm a little bit of a Drama Queen.)
So in summation: I had a bad first experience at UT. I was unhappy with my major. And I thought people in suits carrying padfolios equalled evil robots.
This all changed during my spring semester. I joined various organizations on campus that quickly became my home and saving grace. The weather in Austin was all sunshine and blue skies. And with the new year, I had found a new determination and dedication towards filling my life with happiness and purpose. For me, this translated into finding a sweet summer internship that would pay me big bucks to do something cool. I don't really remember how or why or when I thought to start submitting my resumé to marketing internships... I was an international business major at the time. But the buzz words of the marketing world kept calling my name... "social media" and "graphics" and "story-telling"... I was drawn to the idea of using Facebook and Twitter and Instagram all day and calling it a job (HAH, millennials).
This is about the time that the determination & dedication kicked in. Once I got it in my head that I was going to have an internship as a freshman in college, there was no turning back. Every day for a number of weeks, I sat down and filled out application after application knowing full well that the likelihood of someone hiring a young doe-eyed freshman was very slim.
But then I got lucky.
Getting An Internship Via the Internet:
I decided not to use the on-campus recruiting tools, but rather went off and sort of paved my own path. The two primary job search tools I used were:
The great thing about these tools is that they have a huge database of internship specific positions. And most of the time, the employers posting the jobs are looking for college students to fill those positions. The quality & quantity of the posts kind of ebbs & flows throughout the year, but it's definitely worth taking the time to comb through what opportunities are available.
Best of Both Worlds:
Since joining the team back in 2016, I've been extremely blessed with the ability to work and study simultaneously. Education is something that my boss values highly and I'm lucky enough to be in an environment where I am supported and encouraged to do well in both my work and school endeavours. This is probably the biggest takeaway I have from my entire 'College + Career' experience. I've learned how to balance the two in a professional and meaningful way.
Having a work experience parallel to my college studies has truly impacted the way I think about the world and how I continue in my undergraduate work here at UT. The time I spend studying concepts and taking notes in lectures directly influences my mindset and knowledge of the problems I face when I am at work. And the same can be said for what I learn out in the field and how it carries over to my coursework: I've found that in a lot of my classes, I am able to comprehend the material much easier because I am making mental connections between the readings in the textbooks and what I've experienced in the fast-paced startup world.
I've been asked a lot about the issue of having to juggle a career & college at the same time. While it isn't easy, I also don't see it as being a distraction or a hindrance. To me, it's not an "either/or" type of situation, but rather a symbiotic relationship where building blocks can be formed to create a solid foundation for my future.
• • •
I've been able to learn and grow so much in the past year and that wouldn't have happened if I wasn't willing to put on my blonde wig and bedazzled jean jacket to live The Best of Both Worlds.