Monday, June 23, 2014

20 Minutes Can Change Everything

Anna Hecht was always destined for the big city.

Growing up in the small town of Roanoke, Illinois, her friends compared their very fashion-forward counterpart to Lauren Conrad. She had dreams of moving to New York City since the age of 10.  Hecht knew she had no chance of doing what she wanted to do—pursuing journalism— if she stayed in a place that was familiar to her.

“I always knew living in a small town was suffocating her creativity and she would end up in New York City as soon as she could,” said Hecht’s friend Kelsey Bachman.

Her junior year of high school, she went abroad to Stockholm, Sweden and participated in a music program while there.  When she came back before her senior year, she only had a limited amount of time to apply to schools and take her ACTs.  She ended up going to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, – where she said she would never go.

“I cried at orientation, I didn’t want to be there,” Hecht said.  “I ended up falling in love with being there. I have gotten to do so much and pursued everything I can.”

Attending the University of Illinois turned out to be the best thing that happened, because from there, opportunities to pursue her New York dream fell into place.

When Hecht was younger, she attended a leadership conference and one of the messages that she took away from it was that when a person goes to college, they should pick a major and get involved in things that are far from what they think they want to do, and that way something in the middle will fall into place for the future.

That is exactly what Hecht did.  She took a job as a marketing communications intern in the office of technology management, where she had to create press releases and sell ideas and concepts, rather than news or stories Hecht said.

“I can’t say no to anything,” Hecht said.

She also took a position as a creative director at the Daily Illini, a monthly writer for collegemagazine.com and managing editor of Spoon University.

“My favorite things about Anna include her insatiable curiosity, dedication, ambition and loyalty,” Hecht’s friend Christine Richards said.

Her sophomore year of college, she applied for a scholarship that gave her a chance to go to New York, which was awarded to one U of I student per year interested in pursuing magazines.

“Amazingly, I got it.  I was awarded the opportunity to work at People StyleWatch,” Hecht said. “I was in disbelief, because everyone applied for this opportunity and I got it.”

When she came to New York the summer after her sophomore year, met someone who recommended her to the internship coordinator of InStyle. Hecht decided to reach out to her at the end of her time at People StyleWatch to let her know that she was available in the future.

“Within 20 minutes, she emailed back and asked if I was available next week to start an internship.”

Hecht knew this opportunity was why she had been working so hard in school and extracurricular activities. She withdrew from her fall 2013 classes and stayed in New York for the fall semester.

“It was insane because I felt like I had graduated and I was here working everyday while my friends were taking classes,” Hecht said.

Hecht’s friends knew that she had the capacity to pursue her dreams.

“Last year when I found out about her internships with People StyleWatch and InStyle, I was beyond thrilled for her, but can't say I was surprised,” Bachman said.  “I knew her motivation, creativity and determination would get her far.”

She went back to school and took classes in the spring.  She then received a spot in the ASME internship program as the Fitness intern.

Hecht enjoyed a wide variety of experiences at each of her internships, but said Fitness has been her favorite internship so far because she has been able to write a lot and loves writing about fitness and everyday things people can relate to.

“It is so empowering to me when I read a good article that people can relate to,” Hecht said. “It is cool to be able to help everyday women.”

After the summer, Hecht will focus on graduating on time so she can make it back to New York as soon as possible.

Written by Jordan Smith, South Dakota State University, Inc. 
Edited by Kathryn Moody, Indiana University, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

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