Two Days and Forty Six Awards

My second year of college: a crazy, challenging, fun, busy ride. I went into fall quarter with a heavier schedule, taking on two new jobs and wanting to make the most of my time at Cal Poly after settling in during my first year.

Most notably, I joined the social media team at Mustang News. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love my team, which is painstakingly clear by the number of times I’ve posted — or more like spammed — Instagram stories about the work we’ve been doing. I’ve been able to form meaningful friendships and work with students I would have never otherwise encountered on campus.

I’ve also learned a lot. Integrating social media strategy into an organization, creating visual content with Adobe software, and working with a diverse group of students have all built up my skill sets as both a leader and as someone interested in content marketing as a career.

the staff of mustang media group at acp/cmbam

This past weekend, I joined 51 other students from Mustang Media Group at the ACP/CMBAM Midwinter National College Journalism Convention. Students from college publications all over the country met in La Jolla at the Hyatt Regency. We were able to attend speaker sessions, workshops, and network with a number of industry professionals. Several students from our organization spoke at the conference, including my manager, Lauren, who led a session about storytelling through social media.

But the most exciting part of the conference was on Saturday when the awards were being announced. Mustang Media Group won 26 state-wide awards, with social taking home two from the California College Media Awards (CCMA) banquet. Later in the night at the CMBAM awards banquet, Mustang Media Group was recognized as the second-best Media Company of the Year in the nation and my manager was recognized for Best Audience Engagement Strategy. In total, we took home 46 media awards.

mustang news social team at acp/cmbam

Everyone on staff was incredibly excited, and I could not be more proud to be part of such an amazing organization. I’ve only been part of the team for less than two quarters, but I know that my involvement will be continuing in the future. I’ve truly seen the value in dedicating myself to an organization and a team, and I look forward to the rest of my work with the social media team at Mustang News.

The Pursuit of the Future

As a college student, it is too easy to get caught up in the future. I am surrounded by people who share a similar desire to figure out what’s next in all aspects, whether that be professionally, personally, socially, or academically. The decisions I make are done with the intention of consciously working towards the answer to a question: what is my future? And what does that really mean?

Coming to college solidified my independency by showing me the value of making decisions that I believe in wholeheartedly. At the end of it all, I am the only one that can truly carve the path that’s meant for me, and that’s terrifying. But there’s no roadmap and there’s no directions telling me which way to go. These questions I am trying to answer are so broad; it’s as if I’m standing on the edge of the ocean and all I see are distant, hazy shades of blue. How do I know where to focus if I don’t know what I’m looking at?

I am guilty of over-complicating. I like to take time for self-reflection and introspection, and I think it is healthy. But sometimes I become too occupied with what’s going on in my head and forget to consider what’s right in front of me. I’ve learned over time that the best way to approach this question of my future is to break down my overall life goals into smaller, more tangible steps.

For example, my dream is to run my own publishing company in New York City. Right now, it sounds so farfetched; it’s a dream. It’s an answer I’ve considered unrealistic and unachievable, but I know now that it could be attainable if I start working towards it. There are many steps I can take now, like reaching out to professionals and entrepreneurs in the industry or looking at other individual’s success stories or even just taking classes related to my interests.

There is always the concern of finding and maintaining a balance though. How can I work hard and still be able to live my life fervently? There is still so much for me to see and to do. I don’t want to neglect giving myself those experiences. You only get the chance to live out each and every day once. When I look back on my time in college, what will have truly forged the memorable moments is all the times that I was surrounded by the people I love, not worrying whether I’m constantly moving myself forward professionally.

But that level of comfort and confidence with my decisions will only come with knowing that I put all of my best efforts forward when focusing on my professional and academic career. It goes both ways.

It’s important to build a level of self-awareness when considering your future. I think it’s necessary to set certain goals for yourself, even if they do seem broad. It can help give you a sense of confidence by allowing you to make decisions based on those goals, and set you on a purposeful trajectory to that future. Just don’t forget to enjoy yourself every now and then. :’)

Why My Expectations of College Were Wrong

There is a lot of anticipation that comes with going to college. You spend hours upon hours writing your essays for your applications, having endless conversations with family and friends about your future plans, and spending months waiting for your acceptance letters to arrive in the mail.

When I finally decided where I wanted to go and settled into the idea of attending Cal Poly, there was a sense of relief in knowing where I was heading. But over the summer prior to college, the nerves slowly but constantly built back up. I had many expectations for myself going into college. But when I got there, I quickly figured out the reality.

When I came to Cal Poly, I thought I was going to be a different person. A lot of people talk about having a fresh start when coming to college, and how that allows you to do whatever you want and be whoever you want. I had this misconstrued idea that going to college was automatically going to change me. I thought that simply being in San Luis Obispo was going to be enough.

But that’s not true. What really defines the first year of college is experiences. I only recently came to this conclusion after going back home for three months during summer. I realized how different of a person I had become after really immersing myself in my first year of college.

My fall quarter of my first year was relatively uneventful. I got acclimated to living in the dorms, made some new friends, and figured out how to navigate my way around the school. But going into winter quarter I knew that I wanted to branch out. Even though I knew it was going to make me uncomfortable and force me out of my bubble, I decided to rush for a business fraternity on campus: Alpha Kappa Psi.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it quickly became one of the most defining experiences of my first year. Even during the week of rush, I learned a lot. I came on the first day to simply see what the fraternity was about, and it pulled me in. I went to every day of rush, and learned about building a professional profile. I started paying attention to my resume and my LinkedIn, and was introduced to the idea of networking by simply trying to form connections with the brothers of the fraternity.

Then during pledging, I became close friends with the other pledges as I learned how to maintain a balance between work and extracurriculars and figure out how to organize my priorities. It was the first place in college where I felt like I was committing all of my effort, and felt a huge personal investment into the process. On top of my other involvements with organizations on campus,  I was learning how I wanted to define myself as a student, friend, and aspiring professional.

Prior to college when people were telling me about starting anew and having a fresh start, I interpreted it in the wrong way. I thought that simply being in college was going to change me. And don’t get me wrong — naturally, it did by putting me in a new environment. But what evokes real change for yourself is learning what it means to put yourself out there. It means having experiences that introduce you to people and ideas that are different from what you’d normally surround yourself with.

I highly encourage you to take the time to figure out what that is for you. It won’t always be easy or automatic, and it might take a bit of trial and error. But when you find something that really challenges you and encourages you to grow, you’ll know.

Thanks Calvin Lin (@calvinlinphoto) for the featured photo!

ALSO — If you go to Cal Poly, Alpha Kappa Psi is having rush next week! Come check it out and meet the brothers. 🙂


What I Learned Working Two Summers at Target

I recently finished my last day working at Target. I was a cashier, which means that I spent most of my eight-hour shifts on my feet, talking with guests and ensuring that their check-out experience was pleasant. I reported to my supervisors, coordinated with the other cashiers in the front lanes, and zoned the items in the front. I bagged items, talked about the Redcard, and made connections with the guests.

It was a straightforward job, and one that I applied for the summer during my senior year of high school as a means of income. I was simply looking for a place to earn extra cash for college. But I ended up developing a lot of valuable skills, gaining self-confidence, and learning simply what it means to be employed by a company. It was bittersweet clocking out for the last time and saying goodbye to my first job.

While the technical skills of the job were relatively simple — working the register, removing security tags, etc. — it was the sales aspect of the job that challenged me. As cashiers, we were trained to educate each guest that came through the front lanes about the Redcard, which was the credit or debit card that earned a guest 5% off on their purchases at Target. It was an integral part of the job, and its importance was stressed to me from the first day I started as a cashier.

Last year, the summer after my senior year of high school, I was shy. I had struggled a lot with my self-confidence and self-esteem during high school and that translated into my job, so much so that my supervisor actually talked to me about working on being confident. She told me that she knew I was aware of all the necessary information, but it was more about learning to be comfortable in presenting that information to guests.

That’s part of why I love writing so much. For me, writing makes articulation easier by allowing you to mull over your word choice and consider how it comes across before putting those words out for others to read. But a large part of being successful in any aspect of your life is learning how to be an eloquent public speaker and make lasting impressions on people face-to-face. That’s why if I had to say that I got anything out of being a cashier at Target, it would be learning how to be friendly, impressionable, and confident in order to drive the conversation towards selling the Redcard.

Another important aspect of the job was coordinating with other cashiers as well as the supervisors. Working in retail or any other job where you have to interact with a lot of different people, you oftentimes have guests who have problems that require your assistance. In the first few months of my job, I was calling over a supervisor several times during a shift to help me out. Of course, asking for help when you are new is to be expected and is something that you should not be afraid to do. But part of growing in my job was learning how to handle difficult situations on my own. Being knowledgeable of store policies and being able to think quickly on my feet were part of being proactive in my role as a colleague and employee at Target.

Working a first job is always a learning experience, and working at Target from the ages of 17 to 19 was a huge period of growth for me. I wholeheartedly believe that you truly only do gain what you put into any experience. It could have been a mundane job with shifts that dragged by each day, but I put my best into my job as a cashier and as a result attained valuable skills and made lasting connections with other employees that have set me up for success in the future. I highly encourage everyone to approach their own jobs with the same mindset as it allows you to turn any professional working experience into a growing experience.


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