Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

So how is it that it’s been over a year since my last post? I’ve been slacking so it seems… In actuality, I’ve just been adjusting to some serious (and I mean SERIOUS) life changes and getting out into the world more. It’s amazing what life outside of college has to offer, am I right?

First things first, a quick synopsis of my past year for those who are curious:

  • I was offered a job at Copper Mountain Resort out in Colorado, which I obviously accepted.
  • I moved out to Colorado about 2 weeks after that, last September.
  • I had an amazing season out here- riding powder that was near chest deep was not my forte at first, but I adjusted with some time.
  • Working a season in the resort industry was interesting, fun, and exciting.
  • I met some amazing people, including the love of my life, Jonah. Don’t ask how, but I lucked out finding him that’s for sure. 1622575_319589084859776_140038409_o
  • We survived employee housing and now rent out a beautiful condo of our own together.
  • We have a handsome little English Pointer pup by the name of Boulder- he melts my heart.
  • I spent my summer working at The Frisco Bay Marina which was a complete 360 from working at Copper, but I love it.

And now I’m here… Searching for a new job for the winter and beyond, with drive and determination to absolutely crush it.. wherever “it” may be.

Why not return to Copper as their Social Media Specialist, you ask? Well that’s another thing that changed this year. I’m not going to get too into it, because honestly I don’t know too much besides that what they needed for this season was someone with more design experience, which is not who I am or what I do. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad or bummed out about it, but being sad isn’t going to make me the money I need to support myself. So I’m seeing it as an opportunity to broaden my industry experience and knowledge by trying something new. I’m beyond thankful for all Copper has given me and taught me over the past year; my co-workers were amazing and so supportive as I took on my first job out of college. I can sit here and think of all the things I wish I had done differently (there’s quite a list) that might have helped me be re-hired, but honestly, going into it I had no idea what to expect or how things rolled at Copper. I only know what I know now from experiencing it first hand. So to say “if only I had done this…” is just silly- I wouldn’t have known that there was another way unless I had already experienced it. Long story short, I’ll miss working for Copper and I’ll miss my colleagues, but I’m moving on with little to no regrets.

I guess that leaves me close to square one… maybe square two if that’s a thing. I have about a month remaining at the Marina and the search is on for something new and exciting.
I don’t know where that search will take me yet, but I have full faith that it will be exciting, fun, and full of things for me to learn.

All in all my life couldn’t be much better at the moment.

Most importantly, I’m happy, healthy, and surrounded by amazingly supportive friends and family. Colorado’s been treating me just fine and I can’t wait to get back into blogging about who knows what!

It’s good to be back. 🙂

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Job App Blues- I’m Qualified, I Swear.

I graduated from college just over a month ago (1 month and 2 days to be precise) and after allowing myself a few weeks of relaxation and fun, I charged head strong into the search for a job.

One of the great things about being a recent college graduate who is currently living in her parents basement (literally) is that I have nothing to tie me down to a specific town, city, state or country. I don’t have any commitments or relationships to hold me back; the world is mine for the taking.

Or so I thought…. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t that oblivious to the current job economy that I thought that finding a job right out of college would be as easy as finding a Dunkin Donuts in Massachusetts. No, I knew it was going to be tough; I knew it was going to be crazy competitive. What I didn’t know was how EXHAUSTING it is with little to no return in most cases. I have only spoken (via email) with 1 REAL PERSON throughout my search, and it was a rejection email. I have to say, I really appreciated the let down being so personal regardless of how disappointed I was about not being qualified for the position.

jobWhat’s exhausting about this whole process is the lack of human contact; I have not come across a single job application that even has the option of printing it out to physically hand in a copy. Many see the online application process as a convenience, and believe me, it’s so nice to be able to copy and paste all my job history information from application to application; but what really urks me is that it seems that most places are looking at my date of graduation (May 2013) and immediately dismissing my application.

I’ve been told by so many people that I am not your typical 22-year old, and you know what? I KNOW that I am not. This comes through when I speak to people; something that is really hindering my luck in the job market. I have done internships, held multiple on campus leadership roles and jobs, worked in every industry imaginable throughout the years and even held a management role as a 17 year old high school student. These are all things apparent on my resume, but what is not apparent is the work I have done in my classes at Champlain with real businesses in Burlington and the skills I have developed from doing so. These are the skills that I feel make me qualified for these positions, but it seems employers aren’t seeing them in the same light I am, or at all.

So I’m left here, unemployed, eyes straining from countless hours spent on my Macbook searching for potential employers, re-writing cover letter after cover letter, making each unique enough that I hopefully stand out amongst the other applications, but still having no luck.

So I ask you, my blog readers and followers, how can I get employers to look past my age and see the qualified, experienced, outgoing, professional, candidate that I know I am? 

 

Post Graduation Vacation Relaxation

Welp. I did it.

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That right there is one happy girl (me) receiving my Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from the lovely President Finney (P.Finn)

This all went down last Saturday, May 4th, which presented a great opportunity for an epic play on words for my graduating class; May the Fourth be with you.

Oh Star Wars. Will you ever not be relevant? Probably not.

So that’s a week ago that I walked across the stage; what have I been up too? A whole lot of relaxing, visiting with friends and family, and catching up on the weeks of sleep I missed out during the last month of school as final papers and projects sucked the life from me… Okay, a bit dramatic, but whatever.. it sucked, it was hard, and I was pretty damn tired come Sunday night when I arrived back at my parents place in Massachusetts.

So as I lay here in my bed, unable to sleep because it’s not 4AM (duh) I began to count how many people have asked me what I think is the most RIDICULOUS and ANNOYING question ever for a college grad, “Now what?”

It’s almost like counting sheep at this point. I bet it would put me to sleep. Alas, I have decided to vent about it. Reflecting back on my last semester of college there are many things I regret. I regret not going to the gym regularly (okay… at all). I regret taking biology because it allowed for me to have 3 day weekends (SO not worth the headache that came with the class…). But most importantly, I regret all of the days and nights I spent losing sleep or crying or stressing or all of the above, all because of those idiotic 2 words:

“Now what?”

It took me a while to realize this, so I guess I’m writing this now in part as self reflection but also with the slight hope that even 1 future-second-semester-college-senior-on-the-verge-of-a-constant-mental-breakdown-because-of-those-2-devastatingly-damaging-words will see this: The first thing you should do after you graduate is buy yourself a drink, even if you don’t drink. You flipping deserve it. Seriously. Once I came to the realization that there is 91.94% chance that have a phobia of the unknown along with a phobia of planning things far in advanced, and that that IS OKAY, I started using the whole “I’m buying a beer” line as my response to the “Now What?” question. It lightens the mood and allowed for me to shift the weight of the discussion to something more comfortable and less heavy seeming.

Okayyyy so this may make you seem witty or alcohol dependent (har har) but it still doesn’t help with the anxiety hidden behind the joke.. Maybe this will. I wrote the following as a reflection to a guest speaker in my Capstone class, so I apologize if the formatting seems weird. This was 4 weeks prior to graduation:

“Today I had the opportunity to hear Stu McGowan share his personal experiences in life so far, including experiences of his children. It was a conversation that I needed to have, but I had no idea that I needed it so much. The most surprising aspect of the conversation was that Stu brought up thoughts, fears, emotions and just general concerns that I knew that I had, but I wasn’t necessarily recognizing them consciously. To elaborate more on what I mean exactly is that a lot of the experiences Stu talked about brought up a lot of subconscious anxieties that have been eating away at me for months now. Some of those thoughts I have suppressed in my thoughts to “deal with” later, some I haven’t had the power to suppress completely, and some were thoughts that popped up mid-Stu-speech.

It was almost like Stu was a mind reader at points for me; I couldn’t believe that he was able to have the same thoughts as me- a 21 year old soon to be college graduate. But he did. I admire the free-spirits of Stu and his family members and wish that I could surrender to such a way of being. I learned so much from such a short conversation, but I think the overarching thing I learned is simple to say but not to accept; Everything is going to be okay. Where I am right now is exactly where I am suppose to be; I am passing all of my classes, I am doing my best to juggle an internship, 6 classes, and the SGA, and I will be graduating in 4 weeks. I can’t find crap for work at the moment mainly because I have NO idea what company I would like to work for or what position I would apply for. I don’t know where I will be after graduation, I don’t know how I will pay off my loans, and I don’t have a long-term plan. It seems that the only thing I do know is that eventually, even if it’s 10 years down the line or 10 minutes from now; everything is going to be okay. I will find a job. I will move out of my parents place. I will start paying off loans. And most importantly, I will be happy.

The most important thing I will take away from the discussion with Stu is the question he asked us towards the end: “How do you want to BE in the world, not the job you want?” This is one of the thoughts I’ve been suppressing in my mind for months now. I’ve been having a never ending battle of emotions and stress over the idea that I have to decide soon what I want to do after graduation. I have been struggling with the idea of just getting a job to have a job and having that define me. I think of when people are asked “what do you do?” or “what do you want to be?” and the majority of people reply with a generic response of “I’m a student” or “I’m an account specialist for Blahblahblah INC” or “I want to be a lawyer.” Why doesn’t anyone ever ask “who are you?” in a context aside from asking who that awkward person at the party is that no one knows. I don’t want to BE a Social Media Manager or Sales Associate or waitress. I want to be ME. I want to be someone that makes even the slightest difference in a few peoples lives; I want to BE remembered as a happy girl that lived the best life possible while doing something she loved. If this “something she loved” turns out to be being a Social Media Manager or Sales Associate, then that’s awesome. But chances are, according to Stu, that won’t be the case and it might not be the same thing 10 years from now. Regardless, I know that I want to BE more than a job so if that takes me a year or two or twenty to figure out, then I’ll make it work somehow and everything will be okay.

Another less philosophical thing I learned from Stu is to always know what to ask for. He gave the example of his son’s business partner asking for investors to start Brandyourself.com. He wasn’t specific in how much money they were looking for and gave a huge gap in the proposal. He was told by the investor that he needs to ask for either $75,000 or $100,000 because it didn’t matter to the investor if they give $25,000 more or less, but it would make a huge impact on Brandyourself.com’s building process. This is a lesson on confidence and determination; shoot high in negotiations and in life. Is it worse to fail at something going all out or half-ass it and undershoot? Always be confident enough to stay determined and focused; shoot high.

Another thing I learned is that you CAN defer loan payments and that there are alternatives to the payment options. I know this seems like a silly take away, but I really had no idea this was possible or easy to do. I can’t tell you how many nights I have laid awake stressing about money and his story about his daughter brought so much ease to my mind.

If it wasn’t apparent enough already I will happily admit that my perspective on graduation, finding a job and what’s next in my life has completely changed. I literally felt the tension in my shoulders and chest start to release as Stu was speaking. I have been worrying so much about doing homework, studying for tests, doing work my internship and finding a job for post graduation that I have felt like I was on the verge of tears 24/7 this entire semester. I honestly was teetering the edges of a mental and emotional breakdown I think, but Stu’s talk eased enough of my anxiety that I think my breakdown will be pushed back a few weeks and become one of pure joy at graduation. I can only hope.”

 I did cry at graduation, but only a little during my best friends speech. After that, I was all smiles. Heeding Stu’s advice I stopped looking for jobs immediately; it was just adding to the stress I had with school work. Now for some students of different majors, it might not be possible to stop looking for work like I did (education majors really need that placement right after graduation). But for those others, don’t stress; we have out entire lives ahead of us to work… Take the time to relax. I’m allowing myself 2 weeks of relaxation at home before I bust out the resume and start cranking out the applications. 2 weeks. It’s not long at all really, and it’s not going to ruin my chances of getting hired because I know that once the time comes for job interviews, I’m going to be far more relaxed, refreshed and clear headed than I would have been if I was interviewing during finals week or even the week after.

So with that I leave you with a summary: don’t stress, breathe, enjoy your last semester as much as possible, and everything is going to be okay.

And when it comes to that stupid question about post-graduation plans, tell ’em whatever you want and if they keep prodding for more, just keep your head held high and carry on.

It will all be okay.

There it is :)

There it is 🙂

 

A Twitter Evolution

I first created my Twitter account my freshman year of college; it was a requirement for my Exploring Marketing course and I was NOT happy about it. At the time, Twitter was like Facebook’s annoying little brother to me; trying hard to be as cool as Facebook and falling short. I didn’t understand the purpose of posting what you were doing at all times of the day in 140 measly characters or less- did anyone really care if I just got a new hair cut? Probably not.

I blame ignorance as the primary source of my hate towards Twitter back then. I only saw the tweets of the random celebrities and friends I followed and the majority of those tweets were similar to the example I gave above. They were pointless snippets of information drenched in the stench of T.M.I. 

Oh the memories and free time wasted <3

Oh the memories and free time wasted ❤

So my Twitter account was quickly put on the back-burner the second my first semester was over; I didn’t need it and I couldn’t see myself really “getting into it” like I had with Facebook. I was sure it was just a trend or fad that was going to pass with time so what was the point of sparking another digital addiction? Not to mention I was, at the time, completely consumed in Farmville and playing Tetris online in my spare time… because those were wayyyy cooler thank writing “tweets.” 
As I continued to take more advanced marketing courses, I began to see that Twitter wasn’t going anywhere. It was growing in both size and relevance; so I dusted off the ol’Twitter account, updated my profile and profile picture, and began to tweet. It was a rough start. I had no clue what I was doing, so I decided to start following random marketing professionals, current Champlain marketing majors and sites like Mashable. I started reading the articles that were being tweeted by these accounts and slowly but surely started retweeting ones I found interesting. 

From those interesting articles, I would dig a little further into the source site to find other articles I found even more interesting. I would then tweet those as my own find, like I was doing some good deed for the 50 followers I had. 

It wasn’t until last year when I was abroad that I really got into using Twitter regularly and more confidently. I started censoring my content making sure I wasn’t saying anything too inappropriate, but I didn’t shy away from tweeting the occasional “what’s on my mind” style tweets. I gained more and more followers as I began to follow more and more people. It was addicting and empowering, but I can’t say that I fully understood the significance of “good tweeting” until this semester.

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My final Kred score

My current Klout score

My current Klout score

I spent countless weeks at the top of my class for Tweetgrader, Klout, and Kred. I think I even finished in the top spots with a few of my other classmates (will check on that one!) The best part was when I received a message from a Champlain Alum via LinkedIn… She works at a local company in Burlington and saw all of my activity on her Twitter feed, so when she saw that her company was looking for a Social Media Manager she immediately thought of me. She urged me to check out the details of the position and if it was something I was interested in then to apply.

Unfortunately for me, I had just accepted an internship offer, was already involved in the SGA, and was taking 6 classes this semester. There was no way I could fit in a full time job, regardless of how bad I wanted it. 

It’s a weird kind of feeling to be recognized for my efforts on Twitter; I never really thought too many people were paying attention to me regardless of my follower count. But at that moment, I couldn’t help but feel like I deserved a pat on the back. Having that Alum reach out to me was so rewarding, mind blowing, and an overall game shifter for my future. For the first time in my time at college I felt like I finally found something related to my major that I could realistically see myself doing… and I am good at it. 🙂 

Professional Digital Identity

If you’ve read my philosophy statement, you probably already know what the purpose of this blog is in short.

If you haven’t made your way there yet, then allow me to explain: for my senior capstone were prompted with the challenge to create a “Professional Digital Identity” or PDI throughout our final semester in college. It should be a reflection of our learnings over the past 4 years compiled into a platform of our choosing that will flow nicely with our current online presence. My classmates and I have faced the challenge of “branding” ourselves through out social media pages and any other web presence we have, to create a clean, professional and congruent digital presence.

We were urged to clean up any of our social media profiles so that they are ready to face the observing eyes of potential employers post graduation. We had to revamp our LinkedIn profiles to stand out amongst competitors in the work force; updating our work, course, travel, and overall experience in our field of study so that our strong points shine. We found out our Klout scores and set goals to raise them as much as possible throughout the semester. But most importantly, our PDI should be a way for potential employers to see deeper than our resume or LinkedIn profiles could ever bring them.

It took me a long time to truly grasp the concept and purpose of a PDI; sure on the surface it seemed clear, but was I ready to put my blog out there to potential employers when I wasn’t even sure what I was writing about was correct or relevant? No. I wasn’t.

I spent most of the semester writing posts on my laptop in a word document where they were safe and hidden from the eyes of potential employers. I wasn’t ready to share them and I wasn’t ready to link my blog to my professional LinkedIn profile or even my Twitter or Facebook profiles; I thought it would be viewed as incomplete and therefore unprofessional.

It wasn’t until a conversation I had with my professor last week that I realized I was completely wrong in thinking this the entire semester. In a way, I kind of defeated the purpose of the assignment by holding out until the last minute to share it publicly; there was no evidence of growth in the content or in my interactions. I had no analytics. I let fear hold me back from truly shining.

Looking at the feedback, views, comments and activity I have seen since I began posting more and really promoting this site, I’m kicking myself….hard. Repeatedly. I let silly fears and over-thinking get the best of me; imagine if I had been posting regularly throughout the semester?! This s*@% would be flawlessly amazing!!! I WOULD HAVE SO MUCH CONTENT… But alas, such is life. Always learning from my mistakes.

Growth in Independence

Alone in the Alps

I followed the girls towards the bus terminal where we finally all spotted a larger group of students accompanied by four college grads donning bright blue Bus2Alps staff shirts. I walked over and checked in with one of the guides and stood awkwardly as more students arrived, greeting each other with familiar chatter of excitement as I stood alone. I tried to talk with a few girls that were nearby but they soon moved forward in conversations with friends that were late to arrive; it seemed like I was the only person who was traveling alone on this trip.
Typically I wouldn’t mind being alone, but I was already feeling so vulnerable being in a foreign country for the first time in my life and I was about to hop on a crowded bus to travel eight hours to a completely different foreign country; needless to say I was a bundle of nerves, excitement and anxiety. What was I thinking? Why didn’t I just wait until I made more friends in Florence so that they could travel with me? This is so awkward…
It became even more awkward when I was the last one to board the bus and couldn’t find a seat; that is, until one of the guides “Buck” called me up to the front of the bus to sit next to him. He was nice, young and made a real effort to help me relax a little. “Are your friends sitting in the back?” he asked. Awkward. “Uhm no, I actually came alone… couldn’t find anyone else that wanted to come with me so I just decided to do the trip by myself.” Buck was shocked; he couldn’t believe that I was traveling alone so early into the program. But his shock at my solo-trip wasn’t because he felt like it was risky, he just felt like it was some sort of courageous feat on my part; “I would never have the balls to go on a trip alone after three weeks of being in Europe; I give you so much credit!”
We spent much of the bus ride (which turned into a solid nine hour trip of straight butt numbing misery due to weather conditions.) I woke up about an hour out from Interlaken, Switzerland where we would be staying for the weekend. I looked out the window to see almost white out conditions and realized that it was absolutely dumping snow to my excitement. Excitement soon turned to horror once I looked at the road ahead of us; it literally was barely wide enough for the coach bus to fit on and it was winding down the side of a mountain with about a one hundred foot drop off to the left. The guardrail that was to protect us from plummeting off the road to our death below was seriously a piece of wire about an inch thick. I began to grip the arm rest with every turn, cursing the fact that there were no seat belts on the bus.
Finally we arrived safely and headed to the mountain.

interlaken
The mountains shouldn’t even be called mountains as the word makes them seem smaller than they were; they were the Alps, the freaking Swiss Alps. And I was about to strap on a decent rental board and drop in on the miles of trails that were before me. I almost started crying out of joy when I finally made it to the top of the tram; I had never seen anything like it before.
This trip was one of the most unbelievable experiences that I have ever had in my life. I ended up getting separated from Buck, but I didn’t mind. I had my headphones and iPod for company, beautiful snow with about a foot of fresh powder coating the trails, and I was riding in the SWISS ALPS. It was remarkable. I also know that because I traveled alone, I was able to experience Switzerland in a way that wouldn’t have been possible if I was trying to satisfy a group of my friends wants all weekend; I did me. I road on the mountains that day from 8:30AM to about 4PM and spent the following day walking around the town of Interlaken (well, I actually ended up walking through about three of the surrounding towns on my five hour walk and photography adventure) and it was awesome.
I realized that being alone isn’t always a bad thing; it may be scary or stressful, who’s to say that if I hadn’t returned from the mountain that the three girls I was sharing a room with in the hostel would have noticed? I had barely spent five minutes in the room before rushing off to the rental shop. It might have been a little dangerous too; but I survived. I was safe. I spent so much of my trip self reflecting and appreciating the beauty that was surrounding me instead of planning out which bars I wanted to attack at night as so many of the kids on the trip seemed to do.
I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. No questions asked.

What I Learned:

Going on this trip taught me so much about myself and my abilities to be independent. I have always viewed myself as a pretty independent person, but I had never truly pushed myself completely outside my comfort zone like I did going on this trip to Switzerland. It helped me develop as an individual without the comfort of those I knew surrounding me. This has since allowed for me to be more independent as a student, employee and individual; I am my own motivator. I have seen a significant improvement in my ability to connect socially and professionally with others as well. I have developed the confidence to talk to complete strangers at various networking events on campus and no longer feel the anxiety or “awkwardness” that use to come with approaching strangers. I find that this has been extremely important in my development as a professional as it has increased my in person communication skills.

A Fresh Perspective

Third Wheels & Inside Jokes

I should start this off by informing you that I spent a semester abroad last spring (2012) in Florence, Italy. As many students who study abroad have realized, it’s probably one of the best experiences of their lives thus far so when they return to the States, that’s probably all they seem to talk about for a long time.

At the Mercato Centrale, Firenze Italia

For the friends and family that haven’t gone abroad, this can be awesome at first! Story time about a foreign country? Heck yes! Tell us everything! What did you do? Who did you meet? Where else did you go? For the study abroaders, this is an awesome time to share your experiences without seeming like you’re bragging (I mean, I guess it is bragging in way, but at least you won’t sound like a pompous jerk doing it if it’s being asked of you anyways..) But after a while it gets insanely annoying for the non-study abroaders.

I know that I still catch myself rambling on about that time I was in Italy or in Spain or Ireland or Switzerland or Sicily or France… See? But I typically try to catch myself because I can just sense my friends around me kind of internally groaning that I am once again reminiscing about events they weren’t part of. It’s kind of like being a third wheel or part of a group of three best friends- someone always feels left out when the other two start laughing hysterically at an inside joke that “you weren’t there for.” It’s an unpleasant feeling if it goes on for too long and in my case, I’ve been talking about this inside joke for over a year now.

So then I have to pose the question many of us struggle with; should we have to “censor” ourselves around friends that weren’t there for our experience? I know my first response would be something like UHHH No absolutely not! This is a big part of my life, they should accept it!

But then when I give it more thought and put myself in their shoes, which I often do almost too often, I am able to recognize how cruddy it can make people feel.

That being said, I definitely think it is a two way street when it comes to the censorship issue; what I mean is that because I may have my time in Florence as my “inside joke,” my friends often forget that they too have their own “inside joke.” It was that entire semester that they all spent together back here at Champlain while I was alone with two other Champlain students in a completely foreign country… I can’t even begin to write out all of the times I have felt like a complete third wheel and even an outsider in my friend group since my return. It even started while I was abroad which is a really hard concept for many of my friends to grasp.
Like, yea, I’m in a beautiful country in a beautiful city with so many amazing opportunities waiting for me… How dare I say I wish I was at that party with my entire friend group where so many amazing pictures were taken and memories shared. 

At the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy.

What I have tried so many times to explain is that it feel extremely isolating being away from everything you are familiar with. A foreign language surrounds you as you walk around the streets, people from all different backgrounds are living together in apartments that are so different from those in Burlington, the culture, the dress, the way of life; it’s all completely different. So yes, seeing those pictures of your friends back home being together and living life like it’s no different than it was when you were there is really REALLY hard to swallow at some points. There was a long period of time when I was abroad (and when I returned) that I began to realize that I was severely depressed; my friends in the states rarely talked to me and when they did, it was brief and ended with “Get off Facebook and go explore.” Half of them didn’t even realize that I spent the first two weeks confined to my bed because of an extremely painful cyst on my tailbone that left me unable to walk and the medicine I was on left me unable to eat anything (I couldn’t even keep water down half of the time.) It was horrifying; I was in the hospital for 8 hours my first full day in Florence. Yes some great things came from that experience looking back, but at the time I was just so scared and sick that I wanted the comfort of my friends. I didn’t get it.

Now I know that this can also be viewed as an attest of my friendships; were they really as close as I thought they were before I left? Not at all. Were they worth the effort I put in to remain in touch? At the time, not at all. Have I forgiven them? Most of them, no. Some have tried to understand and with some coaxing they have apologized, but deep down I will always remember how they left me high and dry when I needed them most.

I’ve also realized that the jealousy or envy goes both ways. It’s kind of funny to think about now that it’s been over a year since I arrived in Italy; when I was there I longed to be home, now that I am home I want nothing more than to return to Europe. I talked about my friends from home constantly while I was in Europe and talk about my friends from Europe constantly now that I am home. Sometimes I even feel angry with myself for wasting time and effort longing to be home; did I miss out on what was happening around me? I’m positive I did at some points. But overall, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life so far.

What I Learned:

So with all of this reflecting, I have come to the conclusion that my time abroad has made me a better person in ways I couldn’t even imagine before my trip. I’m more cultured, I’ve seen much more of the world than many of my friends and family, I’ve become stronger and more independent. But one of the most important improvements to who I am as a person is my ability to recognize all of the things I have mentioned above and understand both sides of the story; my friends perspective and my own. I have improved upon my ability to be compassionate; to put myself in other peoples shoes, which is something I will carry on throughout my life far beyond the relationships I have now or had in the past. It’s a quality that I feel is important on so many levels, yet I don’t see too many people my age truly taking the time to reflect both internally and externally and for that reason, I do not regret a single moment of my study abroad experience. It is part of who I am, forever engrained in my character and identity.

Application of These Lessons:

In my Consumer Behavior Class I learned that in marketing it is extremely important to be able to put yourself in the mind of the consumers. In order to successfully market a product, the marketer must understand the needs, wants, and desires of a consumer. Understanding the consumer can only be done by understanding the mindset of the targeted audience or by putting yourself (the marketer) in the shoes of the consumer (the target market.) I believe that my experience abroad and ability to self reflect as well as reflect from another’s perspective, has enhanced my skills in understanding consumer behavior and in marketing. My international experience has shown me the challenges behind getting someone who isn’t “in” the moment or experience, to get excited about it. I have learned to tell a story that engages people in a way that keeps their attention, gains their excitement and creates a desire to be a part of those experiences; all of which are strong qualities to possess as a marketer.