New York City.
No matter what space or time I’m at in the world, when I hear those three simple words, my heart beats a little faster.
Pump, pump, pump.
There’s just something about this city that gets me excited. There’s just something about this city that keeps me coming back. Every. Single. Time.
Now, I’ve approached my third summer in New York. Each summer I’ve gotten a little wiser, a little stronger, and a lot less apprehensive about my dreams.
Now, I’m not afraid to fly. This is the grand finale.
I remember my first summer in New York like it was yesterday. I was a small-town girl from Portland, Oregon and had never spent more than three days in the Big Apple. But something in my heart just told me that this city was for me. So I trusted it.
I had just finished my freshman year at Howard University, which was a rollercoaster ride to say the least. After applying to countless internships, I finally got my first offer as a fashion intern for O, The Oprah Magazine. I felt like I was ready to conquer the world.
My life was made. I had come in contact with so many naysayers, who doubted that any freshman would score their first summer internship at a major publication in New York City. Everyone kept telling me to spend my first summer back home with my family. My dreams wouldn’t let me and God worked it out for me. That was my first big break in the city.
I strongly believe in the saying: if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. Just when I thought life couldn’t get any scarier, it did—but in a good way.
Fast forward to my sophomore year. I landed my dream internship as a summer editorial intern for Essence magazine. A publication that I’ve read since I was a little girl, that has changed my life in unimaginable ways.
Now as a 2014 ASME summer intern for the fashion, beauty and home departments at Woman’s Day Magazine, I am more than grateful. I’ve wanted this opportunity since my freshman year and I was placed in the city of my dreams.
I can’t help but reflect and share the lessons I’ve learned from my summers in the city that have proven to be invaluable to my growth:
Don’t second-guess your greatness. You are supposed to be here. Yes, some of the most successful people in the world call this city home. It can get extremely intimidating and competitive. But, believe that you are supposed to be here and that you have something to offer. Own your greatness. If you don’t, who will?
Be bold. Many times during my first internship in the city, I was a fly on the wall. I sat quietly in the background, doing everything that I was supposed to be doing, just following directions. Now, I know that’s not enough. There were times that I wish I would have raised my hand and said something or asked to do more when I really wanted to. I learned quickly this city favors the bold. Sometimes you have to create opportunities for yourself. Even if a door seems closed, walk through it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Be open. There are so many things New York City has to offer. You have to consciously erase any preconceived notions or judgments while you’re here. Of course, hold on to your values but be open to new experiences and new people. There’s so much excitement and fun here. Don’t just intern, explore!
Be independent. A lot of my mentors have said that only the strong survive in New York. I’ve learned to look after myself and trust my intuition. I always see the good in people but at some point, I realized that I had to grow up and in doing so, not depend on anyone else to validate my dreams.
There go my little gems of knowledge. Hopefully they will inspire someone as much as they’ve inspired me.
New York City, you make my heart skip a beat. You will forever be the city that has changed me, for the better.
This time I’m going out with a bang. Third time’s a charm, right?
-- Maya Allen, Howard University, Woman's Day Magazine
Edited by Lauren Masur, Cornell University, Food Network Magazine