Onwards and Upwards

Well, as always, it seems like time has flown by. My senior year of college has been ramping up, and I’ve been busy with classes, on-campus jobs, internships, job-hunting, and thesis writing. Shall we have a bit of an update?

I’ve been enjoying my work a lot this year, both in trying new things and continuing work I started this past summer and earlier. I’ve joined the fabulous team at Scripps College’s Career Planning & Resources office, continued my work promoting my everyday bag, the Alesya Bag, and contributing weekly blog posts to the fashion website The Working Wardrobe. Each experience is great in its own way, and I’m enjoying the diversity of each role. They all present their own unique challenges, and it’s been challenging (and great fun) to meet each one as it comes.

I’ve also been tackling the dreaded senior thesis, which looms over each student’s head as the near-impossible project they’ll work on for the majority of their senior year. For my project, I’m exploring online fan fiction communities and how they attract and support amateur writers in forming their identity as writers, improving their skills, and working collaboratively with other writers. I participated in several fan fiction communities as a young writer (and still do, from time to time), so it’s wonderful to view a familiar online community through an academic lens. I have two chapter drafts written, and I’m looking forward to continuing my research and writing more as the April deadline approaches (much too fast, actually).

And finally, the last thing taking up a fair amount of my time has been — yes, you guessed it– my job search. I’ve begun the interview process with a few companies, and I’m exploring my options with other companies. I’m primarily looking for customer-facing roles in tech companies, from community management, to customer strategy, marketing, and other similar roles. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done in the past, and I’m eager to continue down those career paths or try something new if the situation is right. Please contact me at anne [at] dreshfield [dot] com if you’re interested in discussing career opportunities with me.

Time has been flying by, and I’ve hardly even noticed as it’s gone right by me. It feels like just a few months ago when I stepped onto Scripps’ campus, dazed and over-heated, on move-in day my first year of college. I can’t believe I’m almost graduated, but it’s an excited disbelief.

Posted in Musings | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Doing Something New

Tee Off
Breathe in, breathe out...

So, I’ve started taking golf lessons.

Let’s start at the beginning. My dad has loved golf for as long as I can remember. He’s taken me out on courses to ride along, and I have fond memories of hacking away at wiffle balls in my backyard when I was seven or eight. I never really got into golf, though, and didn’t think much more about it until my sophomore year in high school, where I got a part-time job at a golf course that was about two minutes away from my house. My dad was a member there, I knew one of the girls who worked in the pro shop behind the food counter, and they were looking to hire through referrals. I walked into my boss’ office and he handed over the paperwork; there really was no interview (good thing, too — at 16, I wouldn’t have had any idea what to say or do).

The work was easy, the tips were great, my coworkers and customers were nice, but I didn’t really get into playing golf. Even when several guys I dated loved it and encouraged me to try it (with my dad voicing his approval of the idea in the background), I didn’t — at least until my senior year of high school. I went out to the driving range a few times with my then-boyfriend, went out a couple of times with my dad, and then, finally, I took one or two casual lessons with the pro at the golf course. I don’t think I really learned much — they were free lessons, the pro was on his way toward retirement (he was over 80), and we more or less hung out and chatted, hacked at a couple of balls, and called it a day. It wasn’t until recently that I thought about taking up golf again. Quite simply, I’d decided to save money on horseback riding lessons for the summer (against my will, really; my trainer at school is much more affordable than the ones here), but I wanted something regular to do on the weekends that would get me out of the house and into the sunshine. Last summer, I walked around one of the golf courses in my grandparents’ neighborhood every night. This summer, on a walk around the course, I thought hey — why not try golf again? And seriously, this time?

Within a few days, I’d met the pros at the course and scheduled lessons for Saturday morning lessons. I had my first lesson this past weekend, and was surprised to hear that the head pro that I was pretty darn good for being what I called “a true beginner.” He said I knew the length of the club (I wasn’t taking chunks out of the driving range), and kept asking me what sports I do competitively (answer: zero). I asked him to take me through the fundamentals because I really wanted to learn them, and he did. It was awesome. I surprised myself by getting really, really into it, actually. By the end of our lesson the pro was happy, I was happy and surprised, and he was willing to lend me a club to practice with until our next lesson. The next morning I woke up with sore arms and shoulders, but I was pretty excited to go out to the range and try again. I went out last night with my grandpa and hit a bucket of balls, and I can’t really explain the feeling of hitting a ball straight, high loft, about 100 yards (I was using a 6 iron). It felt good.

I plan to keep practicing and taking lessons this summer, with the end goal obviously being to play with my grandpa, play with my dad when he visits at the end of June, and hopefully hit the course right by my house when I go back home in August. I don’t know if I’ll ever be that good (like my dad, who is obsessed with golf and has quite the low handicap), but it makes me happy to do something he really loves, and have something that we both can discuss and enjoy together, other than cars. I’m pretty excited to play with my grandpa, too. Here’s hoping that I can play well enough to go hit with the both of them this winter break when we all travel to Hawai’i together.

Until then…fore!

Posted in Musings | 24 Comments

Getting Back into the Groove

Well, summer has started. For me, that means I’ve wrapped up my classes, moved out of my dorm room, taken a roadtrip from LA to San Francisco with my dad (in my dying ’98 Volvo S70, no less), moved into my grandparent’s guest bedroom, and started my community management/strategy internship with Livefyre. It’s been busy, and to be completely honest, it doesn’t feel like summer has started at all. This past week, I’ve been struggling with a lot of emotions as I’ve tried to adjust to my new lifestyle in the Bay Area. On the one hand, I’m excited about a lot of my opportunities and I know it will be a great summer. On the other hand, I’ve been struck by a huge bout of homesickness. I’m not sure what exactly has sparked it, but it’s been rough. I’d like to go back home and spend time with my family. I won’t be able to go home until August, and until then, I’ll have only spent one week at home in a total of seven months. I suppose this is all part of the “growing up, moving out” mentality I’m supposed to be adopting. I don’t even feel that immature or anything — I don’t get homesick at school much. It’s just hit me recently.

Part of me believes that I’m starting to realize the “real world” is knocking on my door, and rather loudly. One year from now, I’ll be a college graduate, and I’ll be on my own, really out in the real world. It’s left me wondering why I’m spending my last summer in school living away from home and working a full-time job. The answer is simple: that’s what’s expected. To be successful after school, I have to start working now. I really enjoy being a part of the Livefyre team, but the pure and simple truth is that I’d like to be at home, relaxing with my dog, reading, and playing video games for the entire summer. Of course, we can’t all get what we want. Nor can we relax and chill out for the entire summer just because we want to. Laziness is tempting, I’ll admit. So, with those thoughts in mind, I’m going to take a deep breath and give this homesickness a kick in the pants. At the very least, it can serve as a good reminder that I love my family, my home, and that I’m well loved in return.

Also, I know my last few weeks at home before I go back to Scripps (a week early — I get to work orientation, huzzah!) in August will be especially sweet, since I’ll have been looking forward to them for so long. Countdowns on the calendar are always fun, anyway. Right? Right! In the meantime, I’ll be working my tail off at Livefyre, taking some golf lessons (not sure how that’ll turn out…), and doing some thesis research. I’m sure that, before I know it, it’ll be August!

Posted in Internships, Livefyre, Musings | 38 Comments

It’s Been a Long While…

Yes, I’m alive. No, I didn’t fall off the face of the earth, though I did fall off of the face of the blogging world. Between classes, work, extracurriculars, internship hunts, and trying to find some “me” time, I’ve been way too busy to blog. Yes, you’re allowed to yell and throw things. I don’t blame you.

What’s happened since my last post? Well, the last time I wrote was around Thanksgiving. A lot has happened since then. Let’s see…

  • I passed all of my classes for the fall semester. Exciting, ain’t it? ;)
  • I enjoyed a month at home in my parent’s new house in Spokane for winter break. I also turned 21 over break, which was much less exciting than it’s made out to be by everyone your whole life. I do enjoy not having to worry about my age in restaurants/bars/random locations, though.
  • I started a new semester, in which I’m taking Prose: Style & the Sentence, Writing for Non-Profit Institutions, Introduction to Digital Imaging, and History of American Broadcasting. All great classes, and while it’s a lot of work, I’m enjoying this semester.
  • I’ve started riding English (I’ve been riding Western since I was 7). It is so amazing. I’m even jumping! I can’t believe I didn’t start riding English earlier, and I’m quite sad that I have so much catching up to do. I’m working hard at it, though!
  • Carrying my Alesya Bag has been a joy every day. I use it daily as my bookbag for classes (it holds everything I need and more–and there are days where I’m carrying a folder stuffed with readings, three notebooks, and three books!) and love it for traveling. It has been the best solution to my constant struggle of finding 1) a cute laptop bag that isn’t made for a man/is incredibly bulky; 2) a cute laptop bag that has pockets for all of my other thing; and 3) a cute laptop bag that protects my laptop. Yes, my bag fulfills all of those requirements, and more! I’ve been working to promote the bag wherever I go, and I’ve found that I’m most successful in airports. While a lot of women on my campus love the bag, the price is just too much of a deterrent. I’ve started changing my tactics and pitching it as a great graduation present — it would be a wonderful present for a new graduate who will be dragging their laptop to work every day!
  • Really exciting stuff: I’ve signed a contract to work with Livefyre full-time this summer in community management/strategy! I couldn’t be more excited to join the team again this summer, meet the new crop of interns, and get back into the ever-moving world of community management. I’ve missed the Livefyre community like crazy!

I think that’s it (for now, anyway). I’ll be updating as this school year comes to a close and I make the move back to the Bay Area for my summer at Livefyre. Life keeps chugging along!

Posted in Alesya Bags, Livefyre, Musings, Scripps College | 20 Comments

Having an Elevator (Airplane) Pitch

I’m all cozy and warm in Spokane, Washington to spend Thanksgiving break with my family, and I couldn’t be happier about that. I left school this past Friday to come home and it was my first experience traveling with my Alesya Bag in the friendly skies. So, how’d it go?

Well, to say my Alesya Bag is great to travel with is an understatement. In total, I was bringing home my 15.4″ MacBook Pro, two chargers, one notebook, three books (two of them are thick–500+ pages!), my planner, and a Coach zip-around wallet as well as my keys to school and my dad’s birthday present (Michael Buble’s Christmas album). My bag was strategically filled, but it wasn’t bulky or hard to maneuver around the airport. It was great to just have one bag to carry around as I speed-walked to connecting flights instead of lugging a handful of things. One note, though: if you were hoping Alesya Bag’s ingenious laptop storing system will get you through security quickly like those new travel bags that you just lay open to reveal the laptop, unfortunately that wasn’t the case for me. I had my iPhone charger in the pocket with my laptop, and airport security yelled at me to take the laptop out because there were “other things in the pocket.” I was a little bit peeved (come on, it’s one tiny phone charger!), but it wasn’t a big deal to slide out my laptop and put it in its own bin. If you keep your laptop by itself in the dedicated laptop sleeve, they might let you through if you lay it open on the security belt. I’ll have to try that on the way back to school!

I hadn’t really prepared myself with an elevator pitch (and yes, I do know how important it is to have one!); my brain was more or less filled with how much work I had to get done on the plane and while I was home and trying to enjoy time with family. So, when I started chatting with a woman while waiting to board on my Southwest flight, I had to think on my feet when she started showing interest in my bag.

“You know,” she started, gesturing to the two bags at her feet. “If I had a bag like yours, I wouldn’t have to travel with all of these!”

“Yeah, I love this bag.” And then I went for the home run that always surprises people at school: “Can you tell I’m carrying a laptop in it?”

Of course, she couldn’t. After taking a few guesses as to where my Mac might be hiding, I showed the woman the dedicated laptop pocket. Needless to say, she loved it. As we filed onto the plane, I told her I was a brand ambassador and offered her my business card. She snatched one up right away! We didn’t sit close to each other on the plane, so I couldn’t catch her name, but I certainly hope she checks out the Alesya Bag website and puts a bag on her Christmas/Hanukkah list–I would if I were her!

So, I guess I have my elevator pitch–catch the customer by delighted surprise. We’ll see if I can surprise more people on my way back to Southern California for school!

Posted in Alesya Bags, Brand Ambassador, Musings | 26 Comments

Alesya Bags: The Great Reveal

I’ve been waiting weeks for my Alesya Bag to get here. I found out in late August that I’d been selected as a Brand Ambassador, and I could hardly contain my excitement — it’s an absolutely beautiful product that combines style and function, made with women in mind. I mean, come on ladies: how many times have you mumbled and grumbled over cumbersome laptop bags, wishing they were daintier, prettier, and just made your outfit look good? Well, look no further. The Alesya Bag is all you need for your work day — trust me. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I’m a purse-aholic; my closet is literally bursting with them. I’ve been obsessed with purses for longer than I can remember, and I absolutely love my MacBook Pro. I want to be stylish and take care of my beloved computer. This summer, I was trekking from the Bay Area into downtown San Francisco for my internship with Livefyre, and I sure as heck wish I’d had this bag when I was doing that. It would have solved so many of my problems, believe me!

Imagine my joy when this baby came in the mail...

I’d read a lot of hype about the thoughtful packaging and presentation from Alesya Bags since they’ve come out, and I was excited to document the process of unveiling my new bag to share with all of you. In a recent post, Alesya Bags founder and mastermind, Alesya Opelt, mulled over the secrecy about the bags leading up to their release. I’ll admit I can’t decide what the better approach would be: act like Apple and have complete and utter secrecy to build suspense leading up to the product launch, or give interested customers peeks into the process leading up to the final goal? While I love a good amount of suspense, I think well-timed sneak peeks can really get the fire going in potential customers. However, what’s done is done — Alesya Bags have been out for months! So, I won’t be spoiling much for anyone by showing off the presentation of the bags…but maybe I’ll get a few more people excited along the way. After all, who doesn’t love a company that makes them feel like the product they’re buying is one of a kind?

Yes, there's even custom packing tape.

My bag arrived at school and I hauled it across campus to do a photo shoot in one of my school’s loveliest dorms: Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall, otherwise known affectionately as GJW. I read somewhere that GJW was the most expensive dorm in the country per square foot at the time it was built, and let me just say that that doesn’t surprise me. Scripps is a little bit obsessed with beautiful things; Forbes recently ranked us as one of the top 10 most beautiful college campuses in the world. What better place to do a photoshoot for Alesya Bags in the nicest dorm on campus? I took to Twitter to preview the location of the shoot and received some very envious tweets back. I know, everyone who attends Scripps College is just a wee bit spoiled.

And when you open the box...

When I finally forced myself to cut through the custom packing tape, I opened up the box to find a pristine white box inside, wrapped with a bright pink silk ribbon, with a personal letter addressed to me from Alesya. What a surprise! To be honest, I didn’t really want to touch anything…okay, well, I did, but only to get to the bag hidden inside.

Wouldn't this look perfect beneath a Christmas tree?

Once I forced myself to open the second box, I was happy I did. Inside was — surprise! — another adorable custom letter, the bag wrapped in its bag, and custom wrapping paper. The bright pink popped beautifully against the white of the box. I was smitten!

And inside that adorable little envelope…

I’ll admit, I wanted to keep the wrapping paper just for the heck of it.

Amen. I’ve always been a victim of trying to tote my laptop around everywhere. I’ve either had purses that aren’t supposed to serve as laptop bags forced to do so (usually extremely uncomfortable on my shoulders, neck, and back), or I’ve hauled around laptop bags that just aren’t made with women in mind and end up feeling extremely unstylish. As most women know, neither of those situations turn out well!

Finally, the bag!

 

The Equestrian Tan is an absolutely great color — it’s really diverse in terms of what you can style it with. As you can see, the hardware is all gold, which complements the color of the leather perfectly. Now, just what do all of those zippers actually do?

Large PocketTop Horizontal Zipper: This opens up into a medium-sized pocket with dedicated pockets for a phone, pens, and a wallet, small clutch, or crossbody bag. The pocket is quite deep; I can easily fit my small crossbody bag and my Moleskine planner in it without the pocket bulging out in any strange way. The pocket is also the most easily accessible when the purse is hanging on your shoulder, which makes it quite easy to whip out your phone and check emails while you’re walking to your next class. One day, I managed to fit my clutch, my planner, two bananas, my phone, and pens in this pocket. Woohoo!

Inside of bag
All of the essentials for a student.

Large Semi-Circular Zippers: Were you wondering where you laptop fits into this bag? Surprise! It’s this pocket, and it’s the secret of how you can have such a lady-like bag fit up to a 15″ laptop. The flap lifts up, and there is a padded pocket for your laptop to slip into easily. Depending on the size of your laptop, there should be space for your charger and other cords to stick in there, as well. When I got back to my room (sadly, I don’t live in GJW), I stuck my 15.4″ MacBook Pro in there and zipped it up. I waltzed into my best friend and suitemate’s room and asked her if she could tell I was carrying my laptop with me. Her response? A resounding, rather surprised “no!”

Top ShotThe Top Zipper (mirroring the strap): Ever lost your keys, gum, or parking ticket in the bottom of your bag? I sure have. The top zipper opens to reveal a shallow pocket perfect for putting things you don’t want to fall to the bottom of a larger pocket. I plan on using this for smaller items such as a pill box, small papers I need to keep track of, and I anything small I need to be able to grab in a hurry while my bag is at my feet in the middle of class.

Finally, the last pocket is on the opposite side of the bag from the laptop compartment, and it’s an important one for college students: the second large horizontal zipper. I’m pretty old school when it comes to studying, and I love writing everything down. I always bring notebooks to class with me to take notes, even if I do have my laptop with me. Well, never fear: the deepest pocket of them all is reserved for the back of the bag (the side that touches your body when you’re wearing the bag with the laptop compartment in front). The pocket fits up to a 3″ binder, and I’ve fit a folder, two spiral-bound notebooks, and a novel-sized book for my class in it comfortably. I look forward to seeing how many other things I can fit in there — like a leather-bound Scripps portfolio I use for job interviews.

Back Pocket Shot
There's that back pocket!

As you might have noticed, the Equestrian Tan color is a bit of a chameleon — it appears to be more of a caramel color in bright light, and turns into a deeper saddle brown when it’s inside. I love it, though I must admit, I was digging the Exquisite Eggplant color, too. I’ve already received several compliments from people around campus, and I’ve only been carrying the bag for two days! You can’t get much better than that.

So, what do you guys think? I’ll be taking more pictures as I use my bag around campus. Feel free to contact me if you have questions, want to chat about the bag, or anything else…who knows, maybe I can get you a deal!

Posted in Alesya Bags, Brand Ambassador | 30 Comments

New Year, New Possibilities

Well, I’m all settled in back at Scripps. It’s a bit of an odd feeling — so many of my friends are abroad, and it feels like summer was just too darn short. I’ve been back at school for about three weeks now, and I feel like I’m finally settling into a routine. One of my big changes? Accepting that I chose not to study abroad and dealing with the consequences. Not only does it feel like I have no friends left on this campus (hello, meeting new people…I’m going to have to resort to just walking up to people and introducing myself. Phew.), but Facebook and Twitter are inundated with people who are incredibly, understandably excited about being across the country or world. I get it. I’m happy for them, completely. But at a certain point it gets a tad bit tiring. There were about twenty different reasons for why I chose not to study abroad, and I still think it was the best choice for me. Like Tony from my new favorite workout, P90X, says. “do your best and forget the rest!” Got it, Tony. I did my best and I’m moving on.

But! That’s okay. I’ve taken over for the equestrian team at my school, which has proved to be quite a bit of work and a fair amount of stress. Everything is settling into place — new students are joining and setting up their lessons, old riders are getting back into their routines of riding and preparing for shows, and I spent some time back in the saddle, as well. It was painful. Not only did I have a killer Western lesson (literally — I had blisters and blood running down my hand by the end), but I also took my first formal English lesson two days later. It was beyond fun — I can’t wait until my lesson this Friday. I might be a convert. Western will always hold a special place in my heart since I grew up learning that discipline, but English is exciting and new. Also, I got a job on campus — I’m an intern for Scripps’ Information Technology Department. I’m also a College Ambassador for Alesya Bags, and my bag should be arriving this week — I’m so excited. I mean, just look at them. I can’t WAIT to get my hands on that pretty bag and take it around campus with me. I already have several friends who have expressed interest in the bag, and I’ll be showing it around more, too. Look for posts up here dedicated to the bags; they’ll be rolling in!

What else? I’ve started thinking about summer internships (let me know if you, or anyone you know, has any interesting propositions). I actually researched for my senior thesis earlier today. I know, crazy.

Oh yeah – I miss Livefyre.

Till next time, folks!

Posted in Livefyre, Musings, Scripps College, Study Abroad | 14 Comments

On Being Heard

Shout!
Make sure you're heard.

Let’s start off by being clear: I don’t mean getting that horse for Christmas (hey there, parents!). I don’t mean getting the newest iPhone model, even if you think your iPhone 4 is way too slow. I’m talking about getting something that you worked hard for, something that is important to you, something that is not necessarily a physical object. For me, this was addressing the fact that my major (self-designed) is being listed on official documents as, simply, Self-Designed Major.

Well, you might say, that’s exactly what it is. But “Self-Designed Major” doesn’t tell anyone about what I’ve worked so hard to study at my time at Scripps College. It doesn’t tell anyone what I filled my time with between lounging in the Southern California sun and riding horses (and a lot of other things). It doesn’t tell anyone why I self-designed a major instead of following a traditional approved major track at Scripps. It doesn’t describe my passions, because that’s why I self-designed a major in the first place: I wanted to study what I love. I did the paperwork, labored with my adviser to plan out four years of classes, and petitioned the Committee on Academic Review. I had to convince educators that what I’d planned was worth studying. I had to convince them that it was detailed, cumulative, engaging, and could land me a job out of college. Needless to say, I didn’t really do all of that just for the title on a piece of paper, but after it’s all said and done, I want my major to be listed as what it is: Creative Writing for Contemporary Media.

This topic came about when I was showing my best friend that the press release for the spring 2011 dean’s list was out. She was on it for the first time and was extremely excited (she’s one of those crazy people. Yes, those science folk). Her major is very hard, and as a sophomore she was in classes with all upperclassmen and post-baccs. She was one of the few that got A’s. So, understandably, she was excited to see her full name in print, followed by Biology. Once she got over her excitement, she pointed it out: “it’s so lame that they don’t print the name of your major!”

I agreed. I want my major to be represented just like all of the other majors at my college. It’s real, I’m studying it, Scripps has approved it, and yes, after all of that, it’s a major. It has a name, and I happen to like the name. I told my best friend that I’d think about sending an email to someone at the college. Five minutes later, I was typing furiously to the registrar at my school. I wasn’t even sure if she was the right person to contact, but I was going to contact her anyway. I pointed out that self-designed majors are simply named that on official documents, and I asked if that was true of diplomas, as well. I explained my reasoning — I’m proud of my major! — and asked how the policy came about that the self-designed aren’t listed as the names they actually are. Some of them are pretty cool: Writing for Social Change. Motion Sciences. Chinese-American Studies. Art Conservation (originally self-designed and recently approved by the college as a full major. There’s one student taking it, compared to the dozens of students who have self-designed writing majors, which have yet to be approved. Strange?). I finished by telling her that I was sorry if she was the wrong person to contact, and if so, who might I approach on the issue? It was a kind, probing email. I’m proud of it. If you’d told me a year or two ago that I’d be challenging my school out of the blue, on a policy that has been around for a while, I probably would have laughed in your face, or maybe run away from you out of fear.

Well, Scripps. You want me to be a strong, independent, self-sufficient woman, so this is what you get.

I’m still waiting on a response, but I’m eager to see where this conversation leads. As I’ve mentioned before, self-designed majors aren’t the easiest thing to do at school. In fact, it’s about twice as hard to self-design a major than it is to simply follow a track laid down by the school. Since when has it become standard to not recognize the majors for what they are, and how can that be changed? Hopefully my school will, at the very least, recognize and acknowledge where I’m coming from on this issue. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be heard, and the policy will change.

Posted in Creative Writing for Contemporary Media, Musings, Scripps College | 37 Comments

Lessons Learned While Commuting on BART

BART, the shining beacon of transportation for the Bay Area...right? Right?!

If you’ve ever been in the Bay Area, odds are you jumped on the infamous BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to get around the Bay and into the city. If you haven’t, it’s an interesting experience. Trains run frequently, but there are often extended stops at stations for no apparent reason (though usually it’s to wait for a connecting train). The passengers range from college students on break looking to get lost in the city, professionals headed into work, to retired men and women traveling into the city for the opera or symphony. If there’s a Giants game going on, the car will be packed with excited fans and their rowdy children. Bikes are often crammed in with passengers, and BART is easily accessible for handicapped passengers — in the past two days, I saw a blind man traveling by himself, a paralyzed man in an electric wheelchair, as well as a man whose service dog wagged his tail and panted happily at every passenger in the car. BART is almost always an adventure.

I take BART from my grandparent’s home in the suburbs to get to Livefyre’s headquarters in downtown San Francisco. The ride takes about 38 minutes, and costs $10 round-trip. I do it at least 3 three days a week. So, what have I learned on these excursions, and how have they translated into my internship? Let’s see:

  1. Build in time to be early. Like my grandpa tells me on a weekly basis, “nothing bad ever happens when you’re early!” While I’m sometimes tempted to point out situations where that might not be applicable (who knows, maybe by being five minutes early you’ll be just in time to get in an accident), the Type A in me sits up and nods emphatically in agreement. I like being early in general. 99% of the time my grandpa is right: nothing bad ever happens when you’re early. I generally get to the BART station ten minutes before my train is due in, and I get a great spot in line to board. Sometimes (usually when I get all green lights on the way to the station; huzzah!) I can even catch the train before the one I was planning on catching. And guess what happens then? I’m even earlier to the office. And that, my friends, is something that will never harm you as an intern. In my first few weeks at Livefyre, I’ve usually been fifteen to five minutes early every day. No one has ever been harmed by my showing-up-before-I’m-due antics. Also, if there are any unexpected delays in the trains, you won’t automatically be late to the office. Good planning pays off.
  2. Respect others. Come on. I know you’re a teenager, with your nose buried in a new book, and it’s early in the morning and you really don’t want to stand all the way into the city, but when that pregnant woman boards the train, you should give her your seat. That’s a given. Also, if you see anyone who might remotely be your grandparents’ age, offer them your seat, too. You’re young and you’re spry, even if you don’t feel like it at 8 in the morning on your way to work. Be respectful, be kind, and pay attention to who might deserve that seat for whatever reason. I’m not saying to jump up and give your seat to the next 50-something businessman who walks in the door, but just be alert. Respecting others shows class, dignity, and maturity. You can bet you want to showcase all of those traits at your internship. Keep your head up and eyes open for the next time you can help out around the office and be kind. Go out of your way to do a little extra work on a project when you’re only required to do the bare minimum. Do your part to clean up the office kitchen if you use glasses or dishes. Keep your workspace clean and tidy so you won’t bother others. The little actions add up.
  3. Work diligently. There are a lot of people who stare into the distance while they’re on BART, and they usually end up dozing off (especially if it’s around 4 in the afternoon). As for me, I try to use the time to my advantage: last week, I read a book about finances. Thrilling, right? Actually, it was a fantastic book (Women and Money by Suze Orman). I learned a ton, and it even sparked a conversation with a man who saw my book from across the train and walked over to share the book he was reading — another book about money! As much as I’d like you to think that I only read really informative, wonderful books like Women and Money, that’s not really the case. I read a lot of fiction. But you know what? Reading is reading, and I love reading. It works my brain, keeps me awake, and inspires my own writing. I’m not dozing off on BART; I’m working, and it just so happens to be something I love. If you keep up the work ethic and keep on working diligently, you’ll see results, and other people will notice. As Nike says…just do it.
  4. Know what you’re doing. We’ve all seen those people on public transportation: they don’t know what or where they’re going. They step off at the wrong stop, then backpedal back into the train, running into people as they go. They walk out and head the wrong way down the platform, straight into the stream of people trying to leave. Or, the truly horrible one with BART — they don’t know how to put their tickets into the turnstile to leave the station and a huge line forms as people wait for them. You can avoid this easily by doing a dry-run of your commute: know how to put money on your ticket, how to get in the station, where to go, what the stops are, and how to leave the station at your destination. You’ll thank yourself the first day of your internship/job. The same is true in the workplace: if you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing on a given task, don’t be afraid to ask questions. No one will fault you for wanting to learn and being confident enough to speak out.
  5. Know your route and where it’ll take you. It’s good to know what trains head all the way to the end of the line and which ones don’t. Don’t you want to be absolutely certain of your final destination? Or, at the very least, where you’re headed and how long it’ll take to get you there? Don’t be afraid to look up the map of the train lines. Don’t be afraid to look ahead in your internship, either — what projects will you be working on in the future? Is there anything you can get a head-start on early? If this is the field you want to work in, ask questions of your coworkers — how can you get ahead once you’ve had to leave the company? Know if your internship is opening doors or inadvertently closing them.

What has public transportation taught you about your job? What have you learned, and how can you make it last?

Posted in Internships, Livefyre, Musings | 46 Comments