Name: Saznin Mehta
Major: Public Health
Hometown: Alexandria, VA
Year: Class of 2012
Now that it’s March of my senior year, I’m beginning to realize how dangerously close I am to becoming A Real Person. You know, someone with a job and an apartment and bills and, gasp, responsibilities. Even though I’ve lived off-campus for two years and have more or less gotten the hang of taking care of myself (laundry is still a struggle), I’m about as close to reaching real adult-status maturity as your average toddler. I knew coming into my second semester that I needed a smooth transition to post-grad life, something that would give me a taste of the real world without requiring me to abandon my comfortable college bubble. With that in mind, I began applying to internships in DC and finally landed one at the UN Foundation.
This, I thought, would be the perfect segue to impending adulthood. I would commute to DC two days a week, work remotely from Baltimore on those days when I had class, and gain valuable experience at an amazing organization. I’ve had my share of internships before, but never during the school year, so I braced myself for a heavier-than-usual workload, which at Hopkins is no small feat. I went to the mall and bought myself a few blazers and slacks and some sensible shoes so I’d look the part. Now was my chance to prove that I could act it, too.
Here’s the part where any other blog would launch into ‘A Profound List of Things I’ve Learned,’ but I’ve decided to go in another direction. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of challenging learning experiences – meeting deadlines, handling a million projects at once, learning programs and procedures very quickly, rectifying mistakes gracefully – but I’ve also run across some subtle yet equally important lessons that have proven vital to getting me through the day, such as…
- Don’t email people on Monday mornings before they’ve had their coffee. They’ll be in an exponentially better mood after 10 AM, and it’ll show in their responses.
- Never stand on the left side of Metro station escalators unless you want to incur the wrath of a million angry commuters.
- The best way to wake up at 5 AM and stay up: leave your alarm by the milk and cereal. Food always triumphs over sleep.
- Write stuff down. If I don’t make a note of a task right when I get it, it might as well not exist.
- Turn your phone off, not just during meetings, but also when you’re out with people. Little known fact: the world will not end if you don’t answer that text. And who wants to be friends with someone who’d rather hang out with their iPhone? That’s right: no one.
- Smile at strangers. Sounds cheesy, but getting a big grin in response is enough to turn even the most horrible day around.
… and many more. Profound revelations these are not, but they’ve taught me to be perceptive, proactive, and productive. And if the last few weeks have taught me anything, it’s that the smallest things can make the biggest difference. The best part of my day is not when I’ve finished answering emails or completed a big project or dazzled my boss with my efficiency; it’s when I give myself a chance to improve my day through the little things. When I’m content with the most mundane aspects of my life, the more important things seem like a piece of cake to handle. So will my ever-growing list of little things help me grow up? It remains to be seen, but then again, I’m sticking to yet another little nugget of wisdom: take it one day at a time.