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learning

Coming to college was a brand new experience for me. It was a completely different environment from what I ever experienced. Of course I learned as I went along, picking up pieces of information along the way. However, I wish I had known one major thing before I came to college. That piece of information is the importance of relationships with people and accepting advice when needed. The people here taught me to accept advice and, even, to actually use it. I’ve always been a very stubborn person, I didn’t realize that this was hindering me from improvement. The people I met in my first week of college alone taught me this important lesson. New experiences can open your eyes to a different point of view an the people here has shown me that. I listen more intently now and realize that I can’t always be set in my ways. Change is a vital part of life, you must learn to accept this. If you follow tradition you might be steered down the same path you were going, that path may not be the best thing for you. People and your connections with them really matter. Before, I was too stubborn for my own good and I can admit it now. However, I now listen more and that is what I wish I had known.

You might be surprised to hear that I changed in just 3-4 months here at college. That’s what this place does to you. It makes you wonder what else is out there. The faculty and students here were my catalyst to thinking more about other points of view, thus improving my understanding of a variety of things. The people here are influential, it doesn’t take long to realize that. When you come to Fontbonne, things change for the better. You become what you really want to become and learn that change is important and beneficial for you. In the short months I’ve been here, I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned to accept change and I think that’s the most surprising thing about Fontbonne. The influence that it has on you is profound.

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In order to get my degree in fashion merchandising, it is a requirement to complete an internship. And as hard as it is to believe, I am at that point in my college career. My internship is at a company called TalentPlus Universal, which was originally intended to be solely a summer thing. But, I am excited to say it has been extended into the fall! I am glad that they like me enough to keep me. I first found out about this internship opportunity back in February when I was at the National Association for Campus Activities conference in Boston. I spoke with a TalentPlus representative at a booth that was set up at a fair, and applied as soon as I got back home to St. Louis. My first official day was May 15.

TalentPlus Universal is an agency that is only located in St. Louis (in the Central West End, to be specific). There are four divisions within the company: TalentPlus Entertainment, Centro Models, TalentPlus Commercial, and TalentPlus Production Services. The agents at TalentPlus represent talent, which includes musicians, comedians, models, actors, hair/makeup stylists, and more. They are responsible for getting the talent bookings and handling their marketing. There are only 12 employees, plus three interns. It is like a family around the office because everyone works so closely with one another. There is even a TalentPlus pool party coming up. I’m really looking forward to that and getting to know everyone better outside the work environment.

Honestly, I can say I learn something new every day I am there. So much goes on between all four divisions. And I’ve never been in a setting such as this before, so it’s like a new world to me. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to see the way each division operates. I primarily work with Entertainment, analyzing and handling client social media and marketing. Within the Commercial division, I’ve helped film videos and edit them myself. This was a completely new and very exciting experience to me. Last, but not least, most days I work on my projects while sitting at the front desk. While there, I answer phone calls, process payments, and greet and direct visitors. I especially enjoy greeting models when they come in for photo shoots and model scouters traveling from other major fashion cities. There is definitely never a dull moment at TalentPlus!

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It never fails to amaze me just how much I can change over the course of a semester at school. And I’ve come to find that it’s not necessarily the stuff I spend eight hours reading in a textbook that ends up sticking with me, because it’s usually (ahem, pretty much always) not. As cliché as it sounds, it’s usually other little things that I pick up on during the course of the semester that get me closer to where I want to go and who I want to be, and they’re typically not things that the authors of my mistake-filled biochem book are trying to get me to understand.

This summer, I’ve put as much distance between myself and a textbook or anything remotely resembling schoolwork or reminding me of what’s coming in three weeks as I could. And yet, I’ve found myself slowly but surely learning and growing, and maybe not so much changing who I am, but instead changing my perspective on things. A few of the lessons I’ve learned in the past few weeks…

1. Don’t judge a book by its cover: People are surprising. Like, unbelievably surprising, and I suppose that’s what makes us so awesome. I’ve spent a lot of my life growing up being too shy to really talk to people, worrying that they may dislike me if I opened my mouth and said what I wanted to say. So naturally, I kept my mouth shut 90% of the time, thinking about all of the witty contributions that I desperately wanted to make to the conversations I listened in on. These days, though, I don’t really hold back so much. Instead, I do the exact opposite and actually initiate the conversation now. I’ve learned some pretty cool things about the kids I work with as a result of this brilliant strategy of mine, and that we actually have a lot more in common than I would have ever imagined if I had sat back on the sidelines and not opened my mouth at all. I mean, one guy asked me the other day if I bake with almond flour. Um, hello? How many teenage boys do you know who know what the heck almond flour is? Seriously. I was speechless (and kind of impressed). Another kid and I both dream of heading West and moving to Colorado someday. And a lot of my coworkers are so well traveled, and way more than me, a girl whose dad is a pilot, for crying out loud! Anyway, my point is, I’ve learned that talking to people isn’t really that scary. If you’re genuinely curious about somebody, open your mouth already! Worst-case scenario: you’ll end up with new friends of all different backgrounds and interests.

2. Where you live doesn’t define you: This is one of my favorites. During the past three years of my college career at Fontbonne, I would find myself counting down the days until the weekend when I could escape from my dorm and go home. Then as I’d make the long trek home I’d beat myself up over the “fact” that I was a baby and couldn’t stay at school for two weeks straight. But this summer I’ve finally decided to own up to the fact that I like small towns and that I’m not a city person like I thought when I was a naïve little freshman a few years ago. And you know what? THAT’S TOTALLY OKAY. Going home every weekend doesn’t mean I’m lame or boring or a baby or whatever, it just means that I’m doing what makes me happy. And living in a small town, or being from one, for that matter, doesn’t make you less interesting, educated, or fun to be around. So does this mean I’m celebrating the fact that I have Fridays off this semester because it means one more day here each week? You had better believe it does!

3. Don’t be afraid to be yourself: Because in addition to being really interesting, people tend to be a lot nicer and accepting than you think. (See Lesson #1.)

4. Do what you love and what makes you happy, and everything else will fall into place: My, the beginning of the summer, when I was super pale and super stressed about my future, seems like eons ago! And news flash, I’m still not totally for sure what I’m going to do with my life. But I know I like chemistry and I’m good at it, and I’m really interested in organic agriculture. Do I have a plan for what my career is going to be? Not exactly. But am I on the verge of being sick over it? Not anymore. I’ve come to embrace the unknown and the fact that it gives me total freedom to shape my future into what I want it to be. The only thing I know for sure at this point is that after I graduate from Fontbonne, I’m going to transfer to another university to complete my second undergrad in chemistry. In fact, tomorrow I’m going on a college road trip of sorts to meet with professors from the chemistry and ag programs at Truman (my first time on their campus). I’m stoked to see what comes of it all.

And finally….

5. Don’t be so uptight: Enough said.

-Carly

“Holding On” by Classixx

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I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that we’re, what?, a week past the halfway mark of the semester? The sheer amount of stuff I’ve learned in the past eight weeks is kind of really mind-blowing.

I’ve learned, for example, what a derivative is. I’ve learned how to take the derivative of the aforementioned derivative. I’ve been reading all about GMO foods for a book report that I’m doing for my evolution class. I’ve learnt about the Michaelis-Menten equation and its graphs. I’ve learned some really, really fun words, including, but not limited to, glycosylphosphatidylinositol (try saying that one five times fast. Heck, try saying it at all. I dare you.). I’ve revisited some old friends from general chemistry that I really should be a master at, but actually kind of suck at (but it’s okay, because I think we all have come to the agreement that we all suck at these things and should probably retake gen chem. as a result), including acid-base chemistry, the pH scale, and pka; kinetics; and thermodynamics. Yes, if I haven’t pulled this analogy on my blog yet, I’m doing it now:

My mind is like a supersaturated solution: one more particle of information, and everything will crystallize out of solution.

(Yes, it’s nice to know that the concept of solubility is not above my level of comprehension and that I can make such analogies as a result.)

In addition to lots of learning going on, things have been picking up speed at the Botanical Garden, where I’m currently an intern. A classmate (who is also a dietetics drop-out) and I are in charge of designing seven display cases in the Brookings Interpretive Center. Hey, no pressure, right? I think we did a fine job, and tomorrow we get to start putting them together. I highly recommend you go to the Garden this spring and check out Brookings…it’s going to be awesome when we get it flipped to fit the Garden’s “Foodology” theme! Plus, something tells me the Garden is spectacular in spring…

Anyhow, I hope everyone else’s semester is going smoothly as well! I’m feeling at home in my new department, and I think I know what I want to do with my life. I would say what it is, but it’ll be different next week or month or whatever, so I’ll refrain from doing so.

Have a great weekend everyone! And remember: spring break is almost here.

-Carly

“Assistant Director” by Ducktails

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Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.