fullsizerender

Resolved

All things considered, I had a pretty good year.

2016 may be widely regarded as one giant dumpster fire, but for me, at least personally, it was the year that so many things fell into place. It ran circles around 2015, its evil predecessor, and with the plunge into the post-grad world looming in 2017, I think I’m one of the few who’s a little sad to see 2016 go. Whoops, unpopular opinion alert.

Almost definitely his fault.
Almost definitely his fault.

But, as they say, the show must go on. Me. I say that. Sometimes when I royally botch a line onstage, other times when I’ve spilled crumbs in my bed but am too lazy to clean them up. Tomato, tomahto. The show must go on.

And I intend to make 2017 quite the production. With one semester left at the place I’ve called home for four years, there’s no time for false starts or do-overs. In the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda but also very probably Alexander Hamilton, “I’m not throwing away my shot.” So here are the ten New Year’s resolution of a Hopkins senior, determined to have one unforgettable spring on her way out the door.

I, JHU_Allison, hereby resolve to:

Clean up my sleep schedule. We covered sleep patterns in Intro Psych, so yes, I know consistency is key. But here I am, treating my body like garbage with heinously haphazard bedtimes and wakeup calls. While this sleep schedule, or lack thereof, is doable in college, the real-world 9-5 grind is going to destroy me if I don’t make better habits now.

 Study at the Peabody Library. I’m pretty sure I’m the only Hopkins student who hasn’t taken advantage of this gorgeous venue. I want my Belle moment. I want my Instagram photo. I’ve earned it.

 Enjoy every dang minute of Spring Fair. I’ve spent the past two Spring Fairs rehearsing musicals instead of getting the most out of this beloved Hopkins tradition. Not this year. From sunup to sundown, my butt will be lounging on the Beach, eating a Bloomin’ Onion and sipping on a Strawberry Smoothie.

Take risks. A big item on my 2017 to-do list is to iron out the details of my post-graduation plans. I want to continue to push myself way out of my comfort zone and pursue any and all opportunities that excite me.

 But be kind to myself. At the same time, I find that a lot of graduating college students put tons of pressure on themselves to start the “perfect” job, graduate program, etc. the week after they’re handed their degree. It’s important to remind myself that this strategy is a recipe for disappointment. I resolve not to burden myself by frantically searching for my “dream job.” Instead, I’ll network. Apply to everything. And continue to take chances.

Get invested in Baltimore sportsball. One of those new and exciting chances is a winter/spring internship in the Communications department of Under Armour. While being a varsity athlete is hardly an application requirement, I’m determined to crank up my allegiance to the Baltimore birds. Unfortunately for this diehard Ravens fan, we’re nearing baseball season…so how bout them O’s?

Publish a poem or two. One of the classes in my final semester lineup is an independent study with my favorite poetry professor, Greg Williamson. With his guidance, I plan to polish up my portfolio and send some pieces out. Never again will I be surrounded by so many prolific writers, so I need to take advantage of their genius. Plus, it’s the only thing Mama Comotto wants for Mother’s Day.

Learn to say no. Up until this semester, I’ve regularly committed to (amazing!) off-campus opportunities that took me away from Hopkins for months on end. With only one semester left, I’m going to have to say no to these opportunities. Senior spring is all about living it up at Homewood, one last time.

 Learn to say yes. But when it comes to opportunities at Hopkins, yes is going to be my middle name. Whether it’s spontaneously going out on a weeknight, auditioning for the spring musical, or dressing up in wacky outfits with my fellow Alpha Phis, I’m going to push myself to get the most out of spring 2017.

 Never wish time away. We’re all guilty of this from time to time. No matter how much I adore being here, I can’t help but dream of summer vacation when I’m mired down in midterms. But this year, there’s no more summer vacation to dream of. Just graduation, the real world, and the great unknown. So above all else, no matter what spring 2017 has in store, I resolve to experience and enjoy every single moment. Because they’re numbered.

 

Wouldn't wish away a single second with these two.
Wouldn’t wish away a single second with these two.
Some of my fav helpers. <3 (And a penguin made of ice.)

The Secret to Surviving Hopkins

I think it was my freshman spring when I first heard the ~Hopkins myth~ that people don’t really work together on schoolwork. Like there’s some imaginary percentage of the JHU population that barricades themselves away in secluded corners of D Level (whoops, never been) to hiss at anyone who wants to tackle a problem set together.

See? I can’t even come up with a good imaginary scenario. Because if there’s one thing you’ll do every dang semester for your four years at Hopkins, it’s collaborate. Live it, love it. It’s the key to your survival.

Would also recommend celebrating the holidays in full reindeer getup.
Would also recommend celebrating the holidays in full reindeer getup.

You see evidence of collaboration everywhere. If I had a dollar for every time I walked into a Brody study room and saw the whiteboard walls covered in five different handwritings, I’d buy out CharMar. A Level of the library is a sea of study groups, with students flitting from table to table like the whole scene’s a caffeinated, finals-ready coral reef. (Pardon all the ocean imagery; I’ve spent half the day planning this year’s spring break getaway.) My roommate Lauren, an Applied Math and Statistics major, has had a semester filled with group math projects and presentations, which I didn’t even know existed. And Liz just finished up “Leading Teams,” a course with one of the coolest final projects I’ve ever heard of: a Leadership Summit, beautifully planned and executed by the entire class.

I’ve had two final group presentations just this past week alone, each the product of an entire semester of collaborative work. The first was in Social Media Marketing, where we presented a pretty darn incredible social media plan for Trader Joe’s, complete with an integrated contest, mock posts for every social platform, and three boxes of Cookie Butter Cheesecake. It was a hit. The other was for my PR & Corporate Communications class. We presented months of research and strategizing to the Office of Study Abroad, this year’s real-world client. Not only did I get to invest my time and energy in a program relevant to any and all Hopkins students, but I also got to talk this baby up in a job interview. Real marketing experience? Check.

But just because collaboration isn’t mandated by the syllabus doesn’t mean you’re left to shoulder classwork all by yourself. One of my 15-person Writing Seminars classes had a Facebook group for brainstorming and editing. In lecture classes of 100+ students, I’ve been in dozens of small group work sessions to prepare for midterms and finals. Just this semester in my Visual Rhetoric class, we’ve all gone out of our way to help each other in the photography studio, holding lights, providing feedback, and messing around with finicky cameras.

JHU` isn’t just a place where people work together; I’d argue there’s a culture of collaboration. Everyone on campus comes to Hopkins knowing that the academic rigor is going to challenge, push, and (ultimately) reward them. Helping and being helped is integral to the best undergrad experience you can have. So consider that silly myth officially busted. Give me something hard next time.

Some of my fav helpers. <3 (And a penguin made of ice.)

 

possiblefeaturedimagesquare

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, Interwebz! Yeah yeah, I know 1) nobody says interwebz anymore (showing my advanced age here), and 2) I’m a little early to be sending you some Turkey Day well-wishes. But the Comotto family is a festive bunch, and we’re alllll about extending holiday cheer for as long as we can—particularly when it comes to feasting. So I’ll probably be in a food coma by Wednesday anyway. For all intents and purposes, today’s the perfect time to start giving thanks where thanks is due. And this senior citizen has a lot to be thankful for.

 

Week-long Thanksgiving break. Bless. You. Hopkins.

 

The leftover birthday Reeses cups still chilling in my freezer.

 

Boot/Sweater/Cranberry-colored lipstick weather (Oh autumn temperatures, how I’ve missed you.)

 

The Something Rotten tickets my father so incredibly purchased to celebrate the end of fall semester (CHRISTMAS IN NYC BABY).

 

Watching my dreamy boyfriend star in not one, but TWO amazing musicals over the course of the next two weeks.

He tries. <3
He tries. <3

 

Online library resources, so I can write this final Social Media Marketing paper from the comfort of my own bed.

 

Liz’s candles, which make the apartment smell like cinnamon.

 

My favorite Writing Sems professor of all time, Greg Williamson, who solved my spring semester scheduling crisis AND still made it possible for me to take his classes.

 

Mama Comotto. Because, ya know. Moms are objectively the best.

 

Alpha Phi’s upcoming holiday party, which will hopefully feature Caroline in a Santa suit.

 

Impromptu theatre family reunions.

When you're an Addams, you're an Addams for LIFE.
When you’re an Addams, you’re an Addams for LIFE.

Finishing out my marketing minor with Lauren, who makes group project dynamics way more bearable.

 

Fluffy penguin PJ pants.

 

Seeing my cousin Carly in T-minus THREE DAYS holy moly.

Slowly dying without her.
Slowly dying without her.

 

My pups.

The face of a pup who climbed on the dining room table last year.
The face of a pup who climbed on the dining room table last year.

Taking zero Writing Sems classes this semester and realizing I love poetry so much that I’m giving sonnets as Christmas presents.

 

The pounds of stuffing I’ll be consuming this week.

 

The Comotto family’s annual Pumpkin Pie contest.

 

Seeing people I love over the holidays.

 

Seeing people I love when I get back.

peopleilove

 

 

fullsizerender

Most Things Change

I feel the truth of that now more than ever. Last week, my roommates and I headed to late night at the freshmen dining hall (FFC, for those in the know) for the 10pm bowls of cereal and breakfast food that got us through our first year at Hopkins. For me, it was the first time I’ve even entered that building since sophomore year. It was like being hit by a tidal wave of nostalgia. When you’re a freshman, you can’t help but be entrenched in campus life—I lived in the heart of the freshman quad, surrounded by a thick blanket of classic, undergraduate life. It was awesome and totally unlike anything I’d ever experienced. And as I sat there over my third bowl of Lucky Charms, I realized I’d never experience it again.

Hopkins does this whole “transition” thing really well. It’s like that morbid metaphor about a frog calmly boiling in a pot of water that’s gradually heating up. With every passing year, you become a little less dependent on Hopkins and a little more prepared for the real world. Freshman year, there was no world outside of Hopkins. But as a senior, I can’t tell if I’m a student pretending to be an adult or an adult impersonating a student. I’m no longer in a dorm, but an apartment that feels more a part of Baltimore than campus. My days of eating at the FFC, Levering, or CharMar are far behind me; now I cook (kinda) and grocery shop (horrifying, I know). I spend just as much time at my real-person job in Fells Point as I do in class. And as a new member of the 21 club, I celebrate my weekend nights at the quirky Baltimore bars I’ve been dreaming about since I was an Old-Bay-loving teen.

Hopkins has done its job and cranked out a person who is prepared (as she’s gonna be) to face the post-grad world. And I’m grateful. But after realizing just how much things have changed since I moved all of my color-coded crap into AMR II Clark, I’m also sad. On my first night of orientation, an upperclassman told me she would kill to be in my shoes, at the very beginning of the best four years of her life. As a nervous nelly with zero friends, I figured she was just trying to make me feel better. But I get it now. There’s nothing like your first year of college. And there’s no way of knowing that until it’s already passed you by.

bloggoofyfreshmanyear

Three years ago, just two months into my freshman year, my parents took me and my new best friends to The Melting Pot for my 18th birthday. Here’s an unfortunate photo to prove it.

...we've come a long way.
…we’ve come a long way.

This past weekend, my parents brought us full circle and took us out to the same restaurant to celebrate my 21st birthday. Melted cheese and chocolate are close to my heart, so suffice it to say it was an incredible night. But what was more incredible was looking around at the friends and family surrounding me. The invite list has changed a little, but Lauren, Caroline, and Liz were present and perfect, just as they’ve been for every moment over the past three years, big and small. It was a powerful, much-need reminder that while most things change, the important things don’t.

Told you!
Told you!

Hopkins will end—it has to. College is designed to serve as the springboard to bigger and better things. But nothing can ever be bigger and better than these girls and the incredible life we’ve created together over four short years. I have Hopkins to thank for that. So even if I’m not living the same life I did when I was a freshman, that doesn’t make me any less of a Hopkins girl. I’m saving the nostalgia for another day. Today is for the now.

featured-image-yadda-yadda

A Penultimate Day in the Life

I had a hunch that this was so, but a brief foray into freshman JHU_Allison blogs confirmed: I haven’t written a day-in-the-life post since my first year at Hopkins! Blasphemy. Here you all are, thinking I’ve been eating at the FFC for the past three years. To set the record straight, I’ve laid out a typical Tuesday, complete with class, rehearsal, and an embarrassing number of coffee runs.

 

8:00 am

 

My alarm goes off. I lol at my Monday-night self for thinking I would actually get up and get a head start on work. I go back to sleep for 30 minutes.

 

8:30 am

 

Time to become a person! I have to give myself a little extra time in the mornings given that I live off-campus. But boy is this view worth it.

featured-image-yadda-yadda

10:30 am

 

First class of the day! Social Media Marketing with my dear roommate and marketing buddy, Lauren. We’re probably a little exhausted from staying up all night finishing a paper (best friends make group projects bearable), but the walk to class is infinitely better when we’re doing it together. This is an awesome class with a dynamic professor who changes my perspective on the power of social media every day. Thanks for making me a more employable member of my generation!

Forever taking selfies instead of studying.
Forever taking selfies instead of studying.

 

11:45 am

 

First coffee run of the day. Levering never fails. Knowing me, I probably grab some delicious Thai noodles while I’m at it.

 

12:00 pm

 

Next class! PR and Corporate Communications, aka my chosen career packed into a fast-paced, semester-long course. This workload is totally busting my butt, but every assignment prepares me for the world outside of Hopkins, and I’m grateful. We’re developing a marketing plan for our real-life client—the Office of Study Abroad—and the photos of Oxford are making me wish I’d gotten my Hogwarts letter more than ever.

 

1:30 pm

 

Third and final class of the day, and this one’s a doozy. Visual Rhetoric is an introductory graphic design course, and my can’t-draw-a-stick-figure self was quaking in her boots on the first day. This is definitely my most challenging course of the semester, but it’s also the most rewarding, as I’ll be graduating with a portfolio of work I can be proud of. Hopefully. If I can sweet-talk Adobe Illustrator into cooperating.

 

2:30 pm

 

Visual rhetoric goes until 4:15 (oof, I know), so time for another much-needed coffee break. Thank you, Brody, for always coming in clutch with the bagels and caffeine exactly when I need it the most.

 

4:15 pm

 

Finally free of class for the day, I head home to make dinner (I have to do that now??), do some laundry, and study the evening away with my lovely roommates. There’s probably a nap and some Mad Men in there too, but I’m trying to shield you from my not-so-studious habits. Do your homework, kids!

 

6:30 pm

 

On a normal Tuesday in October, I’d be catching the JHMI and heading to Mount Vernon for Das Barbecu rehearsal. However, we opened a couple of weeks ago, and now my weeknights are magically free! I’ll still probably head to Mount Vernon anyway for—you guessed it—more coffee and the gorgeous Peabody Library. Best place to study in the entire state of Maryland.

You've still got one more weekend to catch is crazy barbecue before it's gone!
You’ve still got one more weekend to catch is crazy barbecue before it’s gone!

11:30 pm

 

This is when I try to be in bed on Tuesday nights, seeing as 6 am comes awful fast on Wednesday mornings. For my poor mother’s sake, let’s just pretend I’m usually successful in calling it an early night.

 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from documenting my four years at Hopkins, it’s that some things change but most things don’t. I’m still loving my major, roommates, and lattes drenched in sugar and cream. With only a semester and a half to go, the routine of my daily life is becoming more and more precious. I know it’s midterm season. But I sure will miss the grind when it’s gone.

fullsizerender

The Comeback Kid

Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog about the bad days.

To recap, Junior fall was the roughest semester I’ve had to date. I was an exhausted, anxious, heartbroken mess of an undergrad for what seemed like an eternity, even though things were on the up and up by the time February rolled in. I leaned on my friends and family, clung to the promise of a trip to paradise, and buried myself in all of the things that make me happy. In the end, that one post (and a semester’s worth of angsty sonnets that I would never inflict on the internet) is the only evidence of any deviation from my idyllic college experience. But I can assure you, it was a fight to the finish.

I posted that blog on the closing day of a show I did last October, when I was wading through the thick of the bad days. Tonight, I open a brand new show in the same venue, a hilarious five-person musical comedy. I get to spend the next four weekends as a larger-than-life Texas sweetheart who wears her wedding dress (complete with a lily-white cowboy hat) out ~to the club~. It’s a hilarious, wonderful time.

With a hilarious, wonderful gal.
With a hilarious, wonderful gal.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for the cyclical, but I can’t revel in this new beginning without being smacked in the face by how much has changed in the past year.

Because, in a miraculous less-than 365 days, I’m so dang happy.

There are a million reasons and non-reasons why this is so. You could chalk it up to the incredible shows, classes, and opportunities (#dreaminternship) that filled those days, because they certainly helped. Stare me dead in the eye and ask who could be unhappy after a Caribbean cruise with your three best friends; I don’t have an answer for you. Heck, blame it all on the dreamy new boyfriend. He’s pretty good at the whole making me happy thing.

See?
See?

I’m the first one to say I’m a fortunate girl. But the fact of the matter is that the past year wasn’t earth-shatteringly transformative. It just was. It was bad, then better, then good, then great, with plenty of peaks and valleys in between. I didn’t snag a role on Broadway. I neither met nor married Darren Criss. I certainly didn’t win the lottery. From the outside looking in, it was a typical year in the life of a Hopkins student.

And that’s what’s so beautiful about it. Things got better for no other reason than that’s what they do. With some hard work and invaluable time, the bad days slowly and steadily faded away. That’s not to say they disappeared completely—do they ever?—but I’ve been breathing free and easy for months now. No more sinking, no more drowning. Just simple chugging along.

College has been unbelievably good to me. But a pressurized, high-achieving environment is bound to yield some bad days, maybe some bad months. More than 25% of college students have been diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition within the past year, and I count myself among them. When I blew my comfort zone to smithereens and wrote that post last year, I was deep in the hole, but I was so hopeful. I wanted to share that hope and make it something to which I was accountable. And now, a year later, I’m back to tell anyone who needs to hear it that hope for better days is never unfounded. Us undergrads are a striving, scrappy breed. We’re tougher than we look.

blogcomebackpls
And we sure do clean up nice.

Tonight, with this post and in the name of new beginnings, I officially close that crap-tastic chapter of my life. And I’ll end it in the style of Queen J.K. Rowling: All was well.

blogughsquare

Working the Dream

I really, really love my internship.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Put “internship” and “love” too close together in a sentence and you’ve entered dangerous oxymoron territory. Internships aren’t about love, or fun, or warm and fuzzy feelings. They’re about grunt work. I’m talking coffee runs, copy jams, and the occasional **shudder** dry cleaning pickup. If you think I’ve pulled this vision straight from the scary-chic depths of The Devil Wears Prada, then clearly you haven’t come home to an exhausted, unpaid intern, fresh off the clock at 9pm on a Friday. The struggle is, as they say, quite real.

It’s worth noting that those kinds of opportunities are not without value. Feeling yourself so firmly on the bottom rung of the ladder provides a healthy dose of humility without fail. Best-case scenario, it lights a fire under your butt to help propel you up that ladder. Worst-case? You walk out of there with a hemorrhaging bank account and a fill-in-the-blank letter of recommendation.

Thankfully, I had the chance to get some real-world PR experience this summer, sans drama of Meryl Streep proportions. I snagged a dream gig in the PR sector of TB&C, a full-service ad agency nestled beautifully into waterfront Fells Point. I’ve been raving about all of the gorgeous nooks and crannies that Baltimore has to offer for years, but Fells tops them all. This is my final verdict. JHU_Allison has spoken.

So scenic it hurts.
So scenic it hurts.

I connected with a TB&C Account Exec when she gave a case presentation during my PR & Media in the Big Apple course (Aka The-Intersession-Class-That-Lowkey-Changed-My-Life). TB&C’s rep was brilliant, passionate, and in-CRED-ibly on trend. I was sold. When it came time to finish applications, sending her my resume was the first email to go out. Miracle of miracles, she passed my over-enthusiastic info into the right hands, and the deal was sealed by the end of March.

Thus began my favorite summer since coming to Hopkins. To my amazement, I was given **gasp** actual, exciting work on my first day. My co-workers were knee-deep in several projects (simultaneously planning a media day for the Hippodrome and a concert series for Smyth Jewelers, nbd) and had no trouble tossing me a few of the hundred balls they had in the air. It was so refreshing and gratifying to immediately feel invested in the tasks at hand. By the time the first Smyth concert came around, I already felt like part of the team—anxious, excited, and desperate for a Cream Cruiser ice cream sandwich (10/10 would ~cruise~ again).

Drawn to photo booths like moths to a flame.
Drawn to photo booths like moths to a flame.

If it seems like I’m bragging, it’s because I totally am. I’m very aware of how lucky I am to have ended up at an agency that not only challenged and trained me, but supported me all summer long. Snack Wednesdays weren’t half bad either. (Just imagine the sheer joy of an ice cream truck pulling up to the office, sprinkles ready, at 3pm on a Wednesday.) And don’t even get me started on Bring-Your-Dog-To-Work-Day. I maintain that having a Golden Retriever in half of the day’s meetings did wonders for my productivity. When my supervisors proposed that we extend my internship into the fall, I pretty much abandoned all professionalism in my eagerness to say yes.

Puppies and ice cream cones aside, perhaps what’s most exciting is the incredible relief I feel to be so in love with this work. Up until this point, I’ve been so adoringly entrenched in school that a small part of me was worried I wouldn’t enjoy anything else, let alone be good at it. Yet here I am, feeling ready to return to the homework-free 9-to-5 days of the summer months.

All in good time. Until then, I’ll be at the library, dreaming of Snack Wednesdays.

And perfect, sunny days.
And perfect, sunny days.
Fun now.

I Wish I’d Known

WELCOME TO HOMEWOOD, CLASS OF 2020! It warms my elderly, senior heart to see campus so alive and hopping (lol) after the ghost-town days of summer.

The start of the school year and sudden arrival of a thousand fresh faces never fails to make me nostalgic. This is quadrupled by the air of finality that shades all that’s familiar about the beginning of a semester. Your first first day is my last first day. Oof. An ever-growing part of me wishes I could be where you are now, lanyards and sweaty dorms and all.

Just look at the lanyard. LOOK AT IT.
Just look at the lanyard. LOOK AT IT.

But I’m not. I’m a seasoned Hopkins vet. And thus it is my duty—and my privilege—to pass on the bits of knowledge I’ve managed to eek out over the years. Anyone who has kept up with my blog since the beginning of my SAAB career (Hi, Mom and Dad) will know that these insights come not from stellar instincts, but from screwing up and learning my lesson. I’m not known for getting things right the first time. But maybe, with a little trial-and-error care of yours truly, you will be.

So here are some things I wish I’d known when I was in your freshman shoes, freshly unpacked on the eve of your first day of classes.

Do your homework.

Not like, homework homework. There will be plenty of time for that later. (Though do check Blackboard right now to make sure you’re not one of the lucky few who does have reading assigned for the first day. Like I am. Le sigh.) I’m talking about those little things you can do for yourself to make your first day run as smoothly as possible. Print out syllabi, plan your outfit, make breakfast plans with floormates. For me, anxiety management meant running around campus with my roommate and finding each and every one of my classrooms the day before. Overkill? Probably. But I felt so much more comfortable rushing from class to class knowing exactly where I was going. No late arrivals, no panic attacks, and no embarrassing backpack sprinting.

Ask for help.

That being said, life happens. Travel time between classes is short, the campus is big, and building floor plans are hardly intuitive. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions. As a freshman, I remember being so intimidated by the overwhelming knowledge and experience of upperclassmen. And yeah, we do know where Levering Café is, but we’ve all been where you are, and we’re all a lot less put together than we might seem. So please approach. Wandering aimlessly is the worst, and it’s way too hot for that madness anyway.

Switch up your schedule.

Perhaps above all, I wish someone had told me that my schedule wasn’t set in stone. That two-week add/drop period is golden, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of it. The first week of class is kind of like speed-dating. I usually pop into two more classes than I end up taking, just to make sure I’ve found the right fit. It’s better to attend class and end up having to drop than to miss a week and scramble to catch up, so my philosophy is that more is always more.

Cut yourself some slack.

This applies all year long. Hopkins will never not be hard work, but I find that any challenge can be rewarding once you learn to treat yourself with kindness. At this level, with this much freedom, school should be as fun as it is stressful. And it will be. Take it from a senior who knows.

Fun then.
Fun then.
Fun now.
Fun now.
Playing with stingrays?

The Last Summer

I know what you’re thinking:

Where in the world has JHU_Allison been?!

Playing with stingrays?
Playing with stingrays?

A more appropriate question to ask is where in the world haven’t I been.

Maybe I’m exaggerating. (I’m definitely exaggerating.) But suffice it to say that I have done more with this summer than the past twenty combined. I’ve powered through my most incredible internship to date, scored an awesome role in a hilarious musical, and made some big steps in the direction of where I want to be—professionally, mentally, spiritually, whatever—in the terrifying ether of post-graduation. But more on that later.

Today is not about power plays, career goals, or job applications. There are a thousand terrifying tomorrows for that. Today, smack dab in the middle of the end of summer, is a college senior’s call-to-action. Or perhaps, more aptly, a call-to-inaction.

You see, this is my last summer. **duh duh duuuuuuuh** Really though, that revelation was just as awful as it sounds. Growing up, summer is about as unimpeachable a right as speech or, I don’t know, breathing. It is a time of popsicles and pool parties, vacation and relaxation. It’s what keeps you going all year round, the end to every mean, the sparkly, sunny light at the end of the tunnel. Even a mega-nerd like yours truly would spend my winters locked in high school daydreaming about the sweeter, simpler time to come.

And now it’s all coming to an end. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but it’s true. If there’s anything that my three summers in college have taught me, it’s that they don’t exist in the real world. Not like they used to. And that’s normal and okay and cost-effective or whatever, but it’s also a loss that everyone has to face at some point. I think it first dawned on me during the age-old internship scramble the spring of my sophomore year. Never again would my summers be free and special and isolated from the pressures of adult life. In so many ways, it’s a good thing. In so many ways, I’m itching to get out of this incubation period and start my life. In so many ways, summer comes to an end exactly when you’re ready for it to.

But also, at the same time, I want to be poolside at 2pm, eating a snowball. I want to have never filled out a tax form in my life.

Read: on the beach
Read: I want to be on the beach

I’ve managed a more feasible interpretation of that dream this summer. In an effort to salvage my last, I took the contradictory images of ~important real-world work experience~ and ~summer vacation~ and smashed them together as best as I could. Yes, I worked 40-hour weeks, but I also sailed the Caribbean with my family, made impulsive purchases on the Ocean City boardwalk, and visited my darling roommate’s “stompin’ grounds.” I ate food that was bad for me, went on swoon-worthy dates, and binge-watched reality TV shows. Maybe I wasn’t sleeping until noon. But I’ve truly had the summer of my life, and I have the memories and tan lines to prove it.

So here’s my much-delayed call-to-inaction, and it goes out to all of you prospective students who are already desperate to be the older, smarter versions of yourselves. Slow your dang roll. Stop and smell the summer. I firmly believe that any minute you spend bored is a minute wasted, but be good to yourself. Go on adventures with your friends, pull all-nighters for the fun of it (those don’t exist in college), invest time and energy into something for no reason other than it makes you happy.

Trust me, the rest can wait.

Don't forget to enjoy the view. <3
Don’t forget to enjoy the view. <3
Starstruck? Who's starstruck? I'm not starstruck.

JHU_Allison Gets Hands-On

Anyone who has survived the grueling process that is undergraduate admissions is familiar with The Information Session. This seems like a Very Big Deal at your first campus visit, chock full of vital information! Invaluable insights! But by tour 7 or 8, The Information Session is less “inside look” and more “45 minutes of white noise.” This is not to discredit the value of The Information Session—my counselor’s description of Hopkins’ distribution system was a major factor in my admissions decision. But, for the sake of being candid, let’s call a spade a spade: Information Sessions tend to all sound the same. I blame what I’ve coined “Information Session Buzzwords,” those pesky little bits of the school’s marketing lexicon streamlined across all websites, pamphlets, and overzealous tour guides. Career planning! Campus culture! Opportunities for growth! And my personal favorite: Hands-on learning.

Hands-on learning never seemed to apply to the likes of me, a Humanities major with a penchant for creative writing. When it comes to engineering and the sciences, hands-on learning is easy to visualize. Hopkins is riddled with high-tech labs just begging for an experiment or two. But a Writing Seminars major with a Marketing & Communications minor? I deal primarily in abstraction. When I pictured my four years at Hopkins, I figured I’d be holed up in Gilman with my laptop and a pile of dusty old books. And that hands-free vision suited me just fine.

Enter a marketing class I took this semester, more specifically, Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communications. I’d heard of this class because of the huge presence it develops on campus every spring. The class transforms into a fully-functional, student-run ad agency, complete with a real-world client. This year, we planned and implemented an integrated marketing campaign for Full Society, a mobile payment app founded by one of our very own JHU alums. If that’s not hands-on learning, then I don’t know what is.

de701ed8-efe3-4826-a394-8801837f6a04

As co-manager of the PR & Social Media department, I was up to my eyeballs in press releases, Snapchat contests, and Facebook metrics. A day in the life of JHU_Allison during our implementation period included early-morning interviews with press and countless hours spent assembling press kit materials, snapping photos at events, and drafting social copy. It was the most stressful, exhausting, and rewarding experience I could have imagined. Amidst all of the logistical nightmares, I also did some crazy, comfort-zone-defying things, like being interviewed by The Daily Record and Omar Jimenez from WBAL-TV. (Fear not, my grandmother has graciously emailed the clip to everyone she’s ever met.) I can safely say I have never done anything this grounded in real-world experience in my time at Hopkins.

Starstruck? Who's starstruck? I'm not starstruck.
Starstruck? Who’s starstruck? I’m not starstruck.

Needless to say, I’m warming to the idea of hands-on learning. And I’ve changed my tune when it comes to its exclusivity—there’s something experiential for every major at Hopkins, if you’re willing to look for it. This Saturday, my fellow managers and I will present the results of our campaign to the client, and I couldn’t be more excited to show off our efforts. And in three weeks, I start my summer PR internship at one of Baltimore’s biggest ad agencies. I spent both interviews chatting about the experience I’d gained during this very class. The talented (and excruciatingly well-dressed) Omar Jimenez says it best: “There are many skills students learn in school they admit they will probably never use again. But for a group of Johns Hopkins integrated marketing students, that is not the case at all.”