college

Here And There

 

The term “boomerang” doesn’t just refer to a piece of sports equipment or a sister channel of Cartoon Network that plays reruns of “The Flintstones.” Today, “boomerang” is what my fellow Generation Y-ers have to endure after they graduate from college. One minute, they’re far, far away from home in the gated communities we call “college,” and before they can blink, they’re handed a piece of heavy paper delicately decorated in calligraphy, which serves as their ticket back to sleeping on the second floor of their cape-style houses in their hometown.

The house I lived in was the house that built me. Miranda Lambert doesn’t lie. But I’ve been fortunate enough to have the experience of attending college in the greatest city on earth (other than Paris) (which, by the way, I’m working on) and while it increases judgment among many attributes, it would be rude of me to take this opportunity for granted.

I don’t know what any of my situations will be when I graduate, whether it be socially or professionally. But what I may not be able to avoid is this boomerang effect. While many of my high school classmates may be excited to return home after our college graduations, it’s not the most appealing to me. What are my benefits? Mom cooks, does the laundry, and pays for my Starbucks. And I can go to the mall.

On one hand, sure, that’s all great. But from what I’ve experienced from going from living at home last summer to now living in NYC for this summer is that the boomerang may not be positive for my transition into true adulthood. It holds me back from growing – and I’ve grown so much this year. I don’t want to go back.

I’m used to cooking, doing my own laundry, and cleaning my own apartment. It’s almost second nature to me now. Yes, it may just be at the collegiate level as opposed to the “real world” level, like paying rent and electric bills (and credit card bills – *shudder*), but I think that I have a leg up on anyone that isn’t in my shoes and living here at 20 years old.

I love home. Home is great. But this room that I’m sitting in now that looks over a street in Chelsea has also become home to me. And when your apartment feels like home, you know you’re heading in the right direction. No boomeranging here, but maybe archery. I’m getting closer to the bullseye.

Frat Boys And Promoters: They’re, Like, The Same Thing

College in New York City is a unique experience that not everyone gets to live. Sleeping in the epicenter of the city that never sleeps is exactly what it sounds like – countless endless nights, crossing the streets from dusk till dawn, and doing it all again less than 24 hours later.

But there’s more to it. When the sun sets in the city, an underground society comes to life. Gangs of girls are strutting down the sidewalk in stilettos, accompanied by their cheerful comrades and a guy or two with his hair spiked in a black button-up slapped on his chest. Where are they going? What are they even doing?

The longer you follow, you notice they approach a tight door with a bouncer, unhooking a velvet rope and letting in the ladies with their body-con dresses. You didn’t think it was real until you finally saw it, but that guy following those girls helped them get in through that door. And that’s not just any door, that’s a nightclub. And that’s not just any guy, that’s a promoter.

A club promoter is not a typical person that the masses would have the “pleasure” of meeting, especially for those in college. Nightclubs are one of the biggest entertainment outlets for college students in NYC. But who can blame us? It’s not like we have frat parties to crash 4 times a week…

Or do we?

I’ve experienced the club culture, and as much as I loved my off-beat NYC world, the back of my mind always wondered what a frat party would be like at a big school. So although it was sort of true that we didn’t have the stereotypical college-esque frat party to frequent on weekends, the good thing about New York is that if you’re looking for something, we probably have it. And on that note, I was right.

I had come across a group of young guys one day and understood that they were recruiting people to come to a future party their frat was throwing. And since I got the invite and was secretly more excited than I should’ve been, of course I grabbed my gang and we headed across the river for a very, very strange night.

This is where the similarities come into play.

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1. They look for girls to come party. Promoters need to bring girls to clubs so that it gives the club more attention. In this sitch, the bros were seeking out belles so that their party could be more crowded. For both sides, the more girls, the better, because as bad as it sounds, girls who look like they’re smiling and having fun attract all types of people.

On another note, both at nightclubs and frat parties, these girls are dressed exactly the same. Yes, it’s acceptable for a girl to wear a black hip-hugging dress and patent heels to Avenue. At a frat house, the ensemble is a bit out-of-place. Just a tad, IMO.

2. They pile on the alcohol. Promoters never make the ladies pay for anything, booze included. When you arrive at the VIP table, bottles upon bottles of Vodka are just ready to be picked up and mixed in with a splash of cranberry juice. And they keep coming, so don’t expect to complain about empty handles.

A frat party is similar in this fashion. I didn’t believe the rumors that the bros had been drinking since happy hour all the way through 1 am, but they somehow accumulated enough alcohol to sustain the guestimated 220-person max in their crowded townhouse. Keep up the fundraising, boys.

3. They’re dangerous. You may have heard Ghandi-esque people say “you can only trust yourself,” but it might actually apply here. While promoters try to serve you at the club and make sure you’re having a good time, some often want to serve girls in other ways. The unlimited alcohol can quickly turn into a negative rather than a quirky benefit. If your promoter keeps pouring you drink after drink, beware.

The same for frat boys. And it’s unfortunate because they’re your age and sometimes, you think you could actually be friends (or more) with some of these guys. But some of them might have cruel intentions. I’ve seen them lead sideways-stepping girls up the stairs and their partners in crime clapping them on. You don’t want to be that girl.

It may be all fun and games, but it’s not a game you can play forever. I’m all for making as many friends as possible. Just don’t get too friendly.

The Cycle

True or False: Education is meant to be your top priority while in college.

At any other school, that’s true. At FIT, that’s a hard value to keep up, since the nature of the school is to use the resources of NYC to its advantage and get into the workforce immediately. It’s inevitable that you’ll be an intern right from the get-go, or at least a volunteer for NYFW at some point your freshman year. The importance of our schooling gets lost amidst the crazy quest for the best internships and making connections with CEOs at nightclubs.

My freshman year, I, too, fell to this naïve idea and picked up two internships. First-year classes like mass communications and how-to-use-Microsoft-Office were nothing short of boring and I let all the material I should’ve retained fly right over my head.

Enter sophomore year, and the content of the classes began to change. One requirement was a class called Publicity Workshop, where we learned about what publicists do and how to create press kits. Everyone at FIT at some point “wants to work in PR,” and although being a publicist may appear to be a glamorous job, it’s not. Plus, a publicist doesn’t just make celebrities look good – every business, brand, and company needs a publicist.

One class was devoted to event planning. I didn’t realize at the time that one responsibility of publicists, among the many that they have, is to organize an event that a brand wants to have. And they don’t just put it together, they also write up the press release and then send that out to the media.

As tedious as the work is, publicists have to stay composed. I learned that no matter what, when someone from the media is invited to an event and shows up at it, the publicist has to cater to their every. Single. Need. Why? It’s simple: so that they get good press. And that’s publicity. It’s a lot to execute, but it’s all for one reason.

When my internship started at Guest of a Guest in January, I knew that I would be covering events, but that was the extent of it I knew at that point. I started picking up more and more parties to cover and noticed a trend in how I was being treated. Someone would come up to me, tell me the firm they worked for, and then say in uptalk, “Thank you so much for coming! We’re so glad to have you here! Is there anything you need? Are you hungry? Do you want a cocktail menu? Don’t worry, we’ll take care of evvvvverything.”

I realized that what I learned in school about public relations had come full circle with my experience in the media and technically as part of the press. This has been a unique way to learn about public relations. We get invited to events and press releases about parties. PR firms want their events, brands, and sponsors to be written about in the media, and in a good light. What I’m doing here is so crucial to their business, and I had no idea. To return the favor for being so welcoming to me at these events, I pay it forward and write sincere reviews about the events.

The attributes of academia may seem time-consuming and as students in NYC, we may believe that education comes solely from experience. Take it from me – use what you learn and apply it to your internship. It really does come full circle.

Judge Me, But Don’t Judge Me

If anyone I ever went to high school with wants to come to me and tell me what they thought of me, by all means, do it. I don’t know what I was really labeled as. Was I a dork? A teacher’s pet? Was I a loner? Was I friendly?

While I wasn’t aware of my social standing in high school, I did everything I could to come across as well-rounded. I was very involved in extracurriculars like French Honor Society and Student Government, I got straight A’s, and I made sure I was friendly to everyone. I think it was important to be friendly to everyone no matter what. As a teenager, you wanted your reputation to be positive. I admit, I do look back and wonder what impact I had in high school, and if I had any on my classmates.

But if I’m being honest, none of that matters anymore. Once you get to college, you can start fresh, but I made it a point to make sure that in college, I kept my values, and the number one value that I believe in is to be yourself. I never faked anything – my personality, my opinions, my interests. Reflecting on my past two years at FIT, meaning that my college career is almost halfway over, I have stayed true to this and I really do deserve a pat on the back/pint of Ben and Jerry’s/all-inclusive vacation on a Mediterranean cruise.

While I’ve achieved this, it’s unfortunate that others seem to look down upon this or that their opinions may not match up to mine. That’s fine and they can think what they want. Several of my hometown “friends” made an attempt to alter my priorities, judged me based on my personal choices, and assumed that my college experience wasn’t “fun.”

Here’s the thing: I’m having so much fun. Launching my career may be one of my biggest priorities right now, but I have never had more fun or been more entertained as a student at FIT. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else for college. While the internship and job hunt can be stressful and frustrating, it’s a creative and thrilling experience, too.

But if you’re going to judge me because I’m not parading down Fraternity Row every weekend, I might just have to judge you right back. I’m sure it’s fun and I believe that, but if that’s your only concern right now and you’re not even thinking about what you’re going to do after you graduate, when will you think about it?

 

 

Room For Growth

 

I had been warned as an ambitious and daydreaming middle schooler who swore that she would be an anchor for ESPN’s SportsCenter that if I wanted to reach my dream job, I would have to relocate to a small town in Idaho for 12 years after college covering stories on families’ pets for the local weekend news show before getting any sort of “big break.” Sort of like a season 1 of How I Met your Mother Robin Scherbatzky without the luxe Brooklyn apartment and 3000 miles away from any borough of New York.

Even as an overly-optimistic sixth grader clad in braces and Harry Potter-shaped glasses, I kept telling myself two things whenever this caution sign came to my head. 1: I will not end up in Idaho. 2: If I have to go to Idaho to live my dream, I will.

But my naïve optimism could only go such a long way. When I began to pick up production internship opportunities in college, so many of the job descriptions read, “Going on runs, assisting in daily office tasks,” and the like. At the time, all I cared about was the status of having an internship and where I worked. So with any chance I was given, I made sure to take it.

Going into an office and not knowing what you would do that day was an exciting feeling. To know that I wouldn’t be sitting at a blinding cubicle was pleasant and that I would get to run around a bit made me feel useful. No matter what my assigned task was, it was very largely appreciated and I strove to earn the respect of my seniors. However, I knew that I was capable of doing the same tasks as a production assistant. In fact, I was doing the same tasks as a PA, but I wasn’t getting paid.

When I hear about internships my friends are doing now, it seems to be that there are so many lopsided levels. From what I hear, if you’re interning at a small start-up, you’re extremely integrated in the efforts that your company is trying to accomplish. On the other hand, students who get internships at well-known companies are labeled as “The Lucky Ones,” and then what do I hear? They get bitched at all day and they have to tape labels on clothes for 12 hours straight.

How on Earth are we, as students who are paying several prices to intern for these companies, supposed to learn from getting yelled at all day? What is a student supposed to gain from going around asking employees “Is there anything I can do for you?” and the answer is “No,” when really, there’s a huge task list with chores scribbled on it that have yet to be crossed off? If your student intern is studying communications, chances are he or she has learned the ABC’s of press release writing. Let her use her academic skills in the workplace.

And if she messes up? Don’t scold or scare her. We learn from mistakes, but we don’t learn from harshness, yelling, or negativity in general. Teach us. As interns, we are here to learn about our potential careers. Employers: these are our lives and we don’t have time to waste. Take us under your wings with sincerity.