I have lived in three different states in the last six months. Although the process of packing and moving halfway across the country was daunting, I am so thankful that I’m here today.
Last year, I was teaching horseback riding lessons, writing papers, and organizing philanthropy events. I felt that I had a realm of expertise in each of those spaces. Although the familiar is what I used to enjoy, stepping outside of that comfort zone has caused me to grow as an individual. The program was intimidating; I was told that I would eat, sleep, and drink iMedia. The 10-month immersion promised a whole new journey away from my space of comfort, a journey into new and exciting (sometimes scary) experiences. The intensity of iMedia certainly lives up to its reputation, but I have also discovered a crucial hidden bonus that was neither disclosed nor advertised. This bonus is not learned in the classroom, and it isn’t something that we can necessarily place on our resumes; this bonus is camaraderie.
Camaraderie didn’t start immediately. We were a medley of personalities and strengths awkwardly plopped into Powell room 210, but we slowly became united throughout our journey in the program. Camaraderie began in an edible form, specifically, in the form of coffee and breakfast—the perfect duo. Slowly but surely, we acquired three different coffeepots in the lounge, assorted K-cups, and a steady rotation of muffins, cookies, and doughnuts. These little pick-me-ups were weekly highlights amid the stress of Dr. Lackaff’s class, and each peace offering provided subtle appreciation for our fellow classmates and our mutual struggles. In addition to caffeine and sweets, we started a GroupMe to keep in contact with one another and clarify assignments. Soon, though, we began to utilize one another for more than just academic sanity—we became a family.
GroupMe quickly merged into a platform for non-school related activities in our limited spare time. The first movement was a “Game Night,” hosted by Darrien, and since, it has become somewhat of a tradition. Each Friday, a classmate hosts Game Night as a detox from the week, and we play Trivia, Uno, and Battle of the Sexes. Recently, these Fridays have turned into potlucks, too (we’re clearly food-driven people).
Last week, Ashley arranged a festive party where we gathered to watch skits, sing karaoke, and paint pumpkins. On Halloween, many of us coordinated wearing onesies for the day. We have begun to rely on one another not just for the answers inside the classroom, but for the relaxation outside of the classroom.
Our camaraderie will grow even further throughout the year, and eventually, we might be relying on one another for more than just another cup of coffee or another round of Uno. Instead, we might be relying on one another for a recommendation at the company of our dreams. My 25 classmates have individual and admirable skills, and I’m proud to call them not just classmates, but also friends and future professionals. Back in August, I took each of my classmates for granted. I figured that I would develop some friendships, but I never really thought about the depth and importance of these connections. I never considered the future implications, and I never considered the impact that each individual would have on my experience in the program as well as my career after the program comes to a close. Networking and moving toward the next step might seem intimidating at first, but it’s just another journey, and this time I have 25 people to help guide me along the way.