Monday, July 9, 2012

First Generation College Student in a Digital World

Applying for a position with USA Today can be nerve-wracking in and of itself. For me, applying for this internship was about more than professional aspirations, it was about an internal, generational battle. I am first-generation college student from a lower-middle class family. My father works for a major shipping company and my mother works for a life insurance company. The closest thing my family has seen to my internship is my grandfather working in the printing room of a New York newspaper. Applying for an internship with USA TODAY was more about the question of “Am I worth something?”

I entered college, as most students do, with a passion to get a better grasp on the world around me. For me, I came to love the study of communication; after all it is the water to our fishbowl. I’ve spent the past two years soaking up as much information as possible to be a competitive candidate in the job market. I knew that I’d have to work a little harder to earn an education than my peers because I had not come from a highly educated family. This isn’t to say I ever thought of myself as less than my peers. My parents are both hardworking, morally sound individuals. I was raised with a roof over my head and always had food, clothes and plenty of action figures. However, I fell in love with the concept of education early on and was scared that I somehow wouldn’t make it.

When this application process began I saw it as an opportunity to prove myself amongst a pool of talented individuals. It also served as a means of figuring out where I fit in within the greater world of communication.

Working at USA TODAY, you quickly come to recognize the value of diversity. Each member of the team matters because of the niche that they fill. Every person brings a necessary energy and a skill set that lends themselves to the mission of USA TODAY. I bring a digital savvy mind, strategic communication experience, a positive demeanor, “southern charm” and a “Keep Calm and Kayak On” poster.  What’s not to love?

My saw is far from sharpened but my time at USA TODAY has taught me that I am worth it. In fact, USA TODAY has shown me that I have much more to offer as a result of my particular predicament and experiences. My background is exactly what sets me apart from everyone else.

So - thanks mom and dad for being who you are. It certainly has helped make me who I am.



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