….ohhhh, livin’ on a prayer!
Okay, that was lame, but it fit so perfectly. It has hit me that my time in New York is halfway over.
Time flies when you’re in the big city, so without being too sappy or cynical, here are the five main lessons I’ve learned, about the city, the public relations industry, and myself since I’ve been in New York:
- It’s okay to do things alone. For some reason, I have this idea in my head that if I’m not doing something with other people (running errands, having lunch, seeing a show), I am a friendless loser. You’re in a city of eight million people and you’re alone? That can’t be right – that’s what the voices say. Sometimes, I’ve forced myself to do things alone because my other option, the option that would involve being around people, would put me in situations I wouldn’t want to be in. New York can be lonely, but I am learning that it’s better to go solo than do something contrary to your values.
- New York really is the coolest city on earth. Granted, I have not been to every city on earth, but I’m pretty sure New York is the coolest. It is amazing/awesome/thrilling/enormous/challenging/busy, and if you’re lonely or sad or upset, you’re still in New York and that’s enough. The mix of people, cultures, buildings and industries here really does make it the place to be. I’m not saying it’s the place to be forever, but I am grateful for the chance to see it as more than a tourist.
- PR jobs are not the same as PR classes. Let me qualify this by saying that my internship is not a real job and that I haven’t taken every PR class my school offers. But, the working world is totally different from college. You don’t do public relations in the real world by consulting a theory in your textbook – you do it by understanding the task at hand and what you want to accomplish in that unique situation. That’s not to say that college is worthless, but it’s really only worth it if you understand how to apply it to real-world tasks, situations and strategies.
- You have to be fearless. Recently, I had coffee with a PR industry veteran who works at Rodale. She dispensed a lot of valuable advice, the best piece of which was to be fearless. Whether it’s picking up the phone to call a reporter even though you’re terrified of talking on the phone (that’s me, at times), or asking to meet with a professional to talk about their work. Work through your weaknesses and become stronger and better at your work in the process.
- Learn from and be grateful for everything that happens to you. (Warning: this one’s a little sappy.) Be grateful that you’re scrubbing the toilet, because even though it’s a toilet, it’s in the coolest city on earth. Be grateful that you get to talk to your little sister on Skype, because it’s not everyone who gets to hear about his or her sister playing Louis Armstrong in a summer camp play. Be grateful that you get to talk with a lady from the Bronx on the subway, even if you’re packed in on the train like sardines. Be grateful that you are where you are, because you’re there for a reason.
Even though the last lesson was a little sappy, it’s still true. I think I’ve learned more about myself in the last month than I did in the previous nineteen years (more or less).
Thanks for reading over these past few weeks – feel free to drop a comment and say “hi!” Here’s to the next five weeks!