A Graduate’s Self Exploration
By YOUNG August 2020
Photo Credits: @arbohlen

Imagine this, you are a college senior about to graduate and enter the workforce. You did it; you completed 17 years of school! Diploma in hand, it just got real. You spent the last four years studying what you thought was going to be your calling. Then, in your last three months of college, you discover that what you thought you would be doing for work and potentially for the rest of your life, isn’t it. I am that college student.

The future is always scary and exciting. Entering the real world can be intimidating. I spent four years studying marketing and was very confident that that was going to be my calling in the corporate world. I invested countless hours, sweat, tears, and plenty of Yerba Mates (it’s a tea-based energy drink if you haven’t tried it, you should. If @Yerba Mate sees this, sponsor me, please) perfecting every presentation and written report. I even won an individual stand out award in the pitch competition in our marketing association conference (I mean, you can’t write a blog without throwing in a humble brag,can you?). So then, how could marketing not be for me?

When I started at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as an overwhelmed 18-year-old, I was required to declare my major. I know a lot of people who struggled with this, but not me. Ever since I was young, I knew the business world was where I needed to be and I thought marketing was the way in for me. I am outgoing, relationship-focused, and excel at problem solving. These traits pushed me toward marketing rather than finance or management. So, you can imagine how unsettling it was for me to let the idea of marketing go? I had constantly questioned my curiosity about other aspects of the business, so what changed my perspective? My internship did. I thought I was going to have an amazing marketing experience and walk out like I was a marketing superhero in the making. I seriously thought this was going to be my “ish.” I didn’t quite get there.

How I Got Started

I joined Forever Young Agency to gain marketing experience and school credit for my senior project, a graduation requirement. It all started over a conversation at Thanksgiving dinner. The agency’s founder is Young Han, who is my uncle, and now mentor and boss. He is someone who I am seriously thankful for when it comes to my journey of self actualization. From the get go, he shared how important happiness is in the work world, and how careers are the least straight line path I’d ever have. When I joined Forever Young Agency, it was just the two of us. In a startup, you wear a lot of hats. I wore at least a dozen! This was an exciting, if sometimes tiring opportunity to do new things. My internship experience was truly eye opening because Young let me try everything and anything. He let me take control of a task, sometimes with little direction and only an end goal, and let me figure it out. I failed a lot, but I also succeeded more than I thought I was going to. Don’t get me wrong; it took me a few tries and a lot of Google searches. Sometimes I hit goals in an unconventional way, but overall, this trial-and-error method allowed me to truly see my strengths and weaknesses.

The most valuable thing I learned from all of this is this: I may think I know what I am good at, but I won’t know until I try. I found that I am really interested in things like project management, operations, client relations, web design and more. I stepped out of my comfort zone and liked it there. Plus, I found out that I’m also really good at these new things and feel more strongly about my new career path!

What I Learned

During the three months of my internship, I got my hands on a number of projects, but won’t list them all.  Some might doubt that a college senior was able to accomplish them all – but I did. Many of these were firsts for me. I built editorial calendars, managed social media accounts, worked on branding guidelines and message architectures, and am currently building out a go-to-market strategy for a new B2B SaaS app that I worked on. Needless to say, I was able to explore a lot of projects, functions, and even industries. So I did marketing, a lot of marketing. I even got to do client-facing marketing. It just wasn’t what I liked best, or at least not right now, and that’s okay. I found that I wasn’t as interested in being creative as a marketing professional needs to be and that my skills and interests were better suited elsewhere. Because I had  the opportunity to explore so many aspects of a company, I started to figure out what clicks! I’ve gravitated toward the operations side of the business. It’s exciting that I have so much to learn, and it energizes me to wake up everyday, open my laptop, and get to work.

During my internship, I have expanded my understanding of the operations side of business. I have helped the company and our clients with project management, as well as product management. Fun fact! For the first time ever, I wireframed websites and web apps! I have to admit, I am still a beginner and I don’t know much about this side of the business. But, isn’t that the most exciting thing about change? The ability to be new at something and know the options are endless and the opportunity to grow is there?

What’s Next

Now that my senior project is completed and my marketing internship is coming to an end, I have decided to continue my work here at Forever Young Agency, but as a part time Operations Specialist. I’m doing this because although I have lined up a new career opportunity, I’ve learned that I want to continue to experience and learn new things. I cannot wait to share all of the exciting things to come and can promise that this is definitely not the last time you’ll be hearing from me!

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