Year 1 Reflections from a Graduating Senior
By: Eva Traylor, IU ‘2019
The purpose of this blog is two-fold: I want to enlighten readers to embrace the possibilities of unlikely opportunities and I want to encourage people to fearlessly open every door they encounter.
I have identified a common theme in my life: the best opportunities that have altered the course of my life and improved my development, are things I almost didn’t pursue. I thought there was a clear winner and a loser. Now I know better; losing isn’t a sign of failure, losing creates the opportunity to grow and do better.
Senior year of high school, I had applied for more scholarships than I could count. When the sign-up list for the National Honor Society Scholarship was released, I looked to which of my peers had already committed. Discouraged by the caliber of my interested classmates, I decided not to apply. I was exhausted from not receiving other large scholarships and didn’t want to waste my time only to meet rejection again. I expressed this to a friend, she subsequently told me to “get over it” and wrote my name down for me. I filled out yet another application, wrote more essays, and as fate had it, was selected as a recipient. At times we need to rely on our support network to influence us to take a leap of faith.
Leading up to my first year at IU, I worked second shift at as a machine operator for the summer. I printed images and text onto plastic containers for eight, sometimes twelve hours a day on the factory floor. It was my first “real” job and the biggest challenge I had encountered in my life so far. As I learned how to function in a professional environment, I eventually worked up the courage to try to make friends and learned quickly that kindness goes a long way. On a few different occasions I was sent to the back to stack boxes of completed product for one particular line. Instead of sticking to that guideline, I took initiative in helping the workers on every line. They expressed how much they appreciated the extra help, other people in the role before me would only do the specified line and not contribute anything more. They reciprocated my efforts. When I was operating a machine on the main floor, they would move heavy pallets, unstack towers of boxes so I could get to them easier, and opened sealed boxes (this was great because the machines never stop and I would get behind if I struggled too long with new boxes). When I started, I wanted nothing to do with my coworkers. I was stubborn thinking I could do my job alone. The value of teamwork can never be underestimated.
Freshman year of college, I had numerous ideas about what I was going to accomplish. I had performed very well in high school academically and socially; I was ready for a change! I had my eyes set on studying International Business – why, I did not know. But, nonetheless, I registered for business classes starting the pursuit of what I thought I wanted.
A few weeks into the semester, I heard about a well-respected women’s organization, Women in Business (WiB). The call out meetings were filled with hopeful applicants, again I felt that surely, I wasn’t good enough to be selected. A week or so later the application deadline had arrived and I was halfway through the essays. I stepped away and almost quit. Being that I had invested so much time and effort into networking and crafting my first essay, I opened my laptop and finished the application. I was invited to two rounds of interviews and finally was selected one of twenty-six from a pool of over 300 applicants. I learned the importance of being strong enough in the face of adversity to push myself.
Throughout my first semester, I worked my way through typical freshman business school prerequisites like Computers in Business (K201) and Business Presentations. (C-104). I remember during my first group presentation I was so nervous I memorized my portion verbatim. Unfortunately for me, I forgot. This caused me to have a panic attack only to be followed by my knees giving out and my teammates having to catch me. I was MORTIFIED. Not only did I embarrass myself, I learned presentations are recorded on one continuous role and later posted on the class Canvas page. This experience taught me, again, the importance of teammates. My team was able to recover and continue with the presentation because they knew my information. This is the second time I learned that a group of people is simply not a team. Teamwork requires effort, support, and above all else, respect.
The most rigorous class I faced was A Brief Survey of Calculus, also known as M-119. Math was never a subject in which I felt confident, but didn’t imagine it could be that difficult. I went to tutoring sessions, consistently attended office hours, and despite my best efforts, received a D+. I was devastated. I had never received any grade lower than a B in high school. After finals, my overall GPA plummeted to a 2.8, I was told by an admissions representative that there was no possible way I could pursue a degree in Kelley. I felt lost and disappointed. I set out to do one thing and I failed. I had to make the choice to stay at IU and pick a new major, or switch schools. I spent all of winter break contemplating whether or not I would select a new college. I thought about the friends I had made through WiB and felt that if I were to return home, I would quickly become too complacent with the ordinary.
I ultimately decided to stay at IU; I didn’t want to give up only after one semester, I was determined to make it work. I went to the Career Development Center to meet with a Career Coach (Anne Rowland). She coached me through identifying my skills, interests, and values. After our meetings I had a few options to pick through for a new major: informatics, human resource management (HR), and event planning & hospitality. I decided to switch my major to HR. Shortly after I received an unexpected phone call from the plastics factory (I had gone back during breaks from school to work), I assumed they wanted to know if I would be returning for that summer. To my surprise, they asked if I would be interested in an HR internship. Around a week later, I got a message from Anne, she said that the CDC was looking for student workers. The job was centered around helping peers with resumes, cover letters, and career coaching – perfectly aligned with a career in HR. I ended up securing a summer internship and a part-time job for the following year; I learned that my GPA wasn’t the only determining factor for my future success. I learned that like the insurmountable number of influential people before me, failure is a byproduct of success.