As the summer comes to a close, I’ve decided to take a good look at everything I’ve done and learned through YRichmond. I overcame my fear of heights zip-lining at Belle Isle, lost a pair of sunglasses to the James River, and discovered that if all else fails, I have a potential career in sushi rolling.
In more professional news, I had the opportunity to learn from some pretty amazing people throughout the course of the program. What they all taught me is valuable information that is not necessarily earth shattering, but is essential for anyone who wants to live a happy and successful life.
A trending theme for the personal and professional development events was encouraging interns to seek out a career that aligns with their passions, values, and creative energy.
Scott Wayne of the Frontier Project was the keynote speaker for the Workforce Readiness Summit. He had everyone write down what they’re passionate about, then asked us to write down what we all want to do post-graduation. Then he told us if what we wrote down didn’t line up with any of our passions, cross it out. Scott also said something that really stuck with me. The top 5%, the most successful people in the whole world, did not become the top 5% by seeking out money or fame. They became the top 5% by following their passions and doing what they love. That’s pretty powerful if you ask me. (I can think of finance majors who should take a good look at that statement.)
Mark Fernandes and Danielle Aaronson of the Luck Companies reaffirmed the importance of my values, and that my goal has really always been to live a purposeful and intentional life. They also reminded me that every once and a while I need to take a step back, give myself a break, and be mindful of why I’m doing whatever it is that I’m doing. Values Based Leadership and the idea of “life on purpose” is an important notion for pretty much everyone to understand. Mark stressed the importance of ‘finding your dance floor’, or finding that place, that job, that company where you truly shine. This doesn’t simply mean finding something you’re good at. I’m good at watching Netflix for several hours at a time- that doesn’t mean that that’s what I should do with the rest of my life, or that I should find a job that allows me to do such. Finding my dance floor means figuring out whatever it is that I’m most passionate about, that thing that incorporates my values, interests, and talents and making sure that the dance floor in which I do all of this is located in a place where those around me have the same values and encourage my passions and interests. That might sound close to impossible, but I think it’s worth the challenge.
Noah Scalin, the artist known for his Skull-A-Day project, focused on the creativity aspect of the Dance Floor Challenge (which I just made up and should probably become a huge movement). With advice like realize that you can’t be perfect, get out of your environment and comfort zone, and collaborate with others around you, it is clear that the processes used in the artistic world are translatable to us less seemingly creative folk. The best piece of advice Noah shared was to pay attention to your world. Or as a very wise man once said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Christy Coleman, the CEO of the Tredegar Museum, enforced what others had mentioned. Find what you love, and go do it. More than that, once you find whatever it is that you’re passionate about, be ready to do whatever it takes to achieve it. I think Christy’s advice may have been the most important of all. Anyone can figure out what they’re passionate about and what they love to do, but it takes hard work and some serious dedication, willingness to fail, persistence, and a can’t stop-won’t stop attitude to actually achieve that goal.
This summer, and my experience with YRichmond has been unforgettable and truly inspiring. Each event provided a chance for me to stop, take a deep breath, and just take in the environment around me. Whether it was sitting in a tube floating down the James enjoying the beauty of nature, or being inspired by individuals who allowed their passions, not the promise of money and a fancy title, to lead them to success. At the beginning of the summer, the thought of having to become a real person with a real job in only one year terrified me. Now, I feel slightly more confident as I enter my senior year. Do I know exactly what I want to do? No. But I do know that wherever I end up, it will be in a place where I am doing meaningful work, with people who share my values and goals. And hopefully it will be right here in Richmond.