When most people hear summer, they think about days spent at the pool and nights under the stars. For me, summer hasn’t actually been like that since 2016. Since the summer after my freshman year of college, I have worked full-time whenever school is out, I even worked over Christmas vacation my sophomore year.
While some students may cringe at the idea of spending sunny days 9-5 in an office, I loved my summer jobs. Each year I had a different internship, sending me back home to Philadelphia and even to a shoe box apartment in New York City (that I miss every day!). During these three-month experiences, I learned almost as much as I did in a full semester in the classroom.
This summer has been completely different. I have still learned so much and have a job I love as the Graduate Assistant for WVU Online Programs (So you’ll be seeing a lot more of me!), but I was only allowed to work 10 hours a week since I was only taking one course. It was honestly a hard adjustment, I haven’t had this much free-time in three years. Even during the school year, I was typically taking 18 credit hours and working a part-time internship. So, when I’m off-the-clock, ahead on school work and living in Morgantown, what was I doing? I took to my Snapchat memories to reflect.
May started off my crazy summer on a high note. As soon as I completed my courses, literally the Sunday after finals, I turned 21 on Cinco De Mayo, and it was a true fiesta. It was the first time I had celebrated my birthday not moving out of an apartment. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many of my friends, celebrating my graduation, all of us passing our classes, and celebrating that I no longer had to “sit at the kid's table” on Saturday nights while everyone else went out.
The highlight of June was traveling to Scottsdale, Arizona, for my first event as the National Vice President of Events and Fundraising for Public Relations Student Society of America, PRSSA Leadership Rally. I absolutely love this organization and credit nearly every opportunity I have been able to take part in joining the WVU Chapter in my freshman year. Being able to serve on the National Committee is the best experience I could ask for, and this first event as an official Vice President couldn’t have gone better. I was able to meet student leaders from all over the country, learn so much about the industry from our event speakers and pitch platforms to create a strategy for an amazing year as a committee. Oh, and we got to hang out by the pool every night at a beautiful hotel, tell stories and create a National Committee family that I’m anxiously counting down the days to see again at International Conference.
The first week of July kicked off with myself and seven of my other friends taking a girls trip to Miami. It was both the longest and shortest week of my life. Since we’re all college students, you can imagine we were really “making moves” on a budget with nightlife and food being on the pricier side in South Beach. We stayed in a hostel, all eight of us in bunk beds in one room. Days were spent lounging on the beach or somehow getting ourselves in to pool parties we definitely didn’t have the money to be at. Nights were spent exploring, making memories and doing everything else you can think eight 21-year-old girls would be doing in South Beach. During this month we also took a few day trips. We spent an evening learning how terrible we all are at golf at TopGolf, and I was reminded of my love of John Mayer after seeing his World Tour live in Pittsburgh (Hear my favorite John Mayer songs on our Spotify).
August has just started, and I feel like I have already done so much. The first weekend of August, three of my best friends from back home in Philadelphia traveled to West Virginia to stay overnight before we drove eight hours to Chicago the next day. It was my first time in the city, and I loved every second of it. Most of our days were spent at the four-day music festival Lollapalooza. I saw so many of my favorite bands and artists, DREAMERS, Hozier and more (You can check out my Lollapalooza playlist on our Spotify and check out who was in my line-up). Morning and evenings before and after the festival were spent eating brunch at little cafés, exploring the city and talking about how much better the “L” is than SEPTA in Philadelphia. It was definitely a city I could see myself moving to after graduation, but it is still number two to New York City.
This summer, I was the most relaxed, and most tan, I have been in a long time. While I began the summer months stressed about whether taking a lighter workload summer would impact my resume, sometimes you have to remember it’s supposed to be a work-life balance. I needed these months to realize how off-center my balance was. I’m grateful to be a part of a program where I am able to make my own class schedule and am not bound to a campus. I can’t wait to see where else my life can take me while I complete my studies. Next up: San Diego for PRSSA International Conference, Paris for New Year’s and three fall classes.
Emily Zekonis (@EmilyZekonis) is a first-year graduate student studying Integrated Marketing Communications with an Area of Emphasis in Management. She is from the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania and holds a B.S.J. in Strategic Communications with an area of emphasis in Public Relations from West Virginia University. Follow along with her graduate adventures on the Marketing Communications Today Blog.
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