What I gained from my Drake experience

Free time has long intimidated me. I evaded it for nearly my whole college career, packing every minute with homework, work, volunteering, writing, running, traveling — everything.

Lingering on anything marked the departure from what I knew into the frightening realm of uncertainty. Naturally, I feared the lull between graduation and the ‘real world.’ Though I’ve found myself intermittently paralyzed by post-grad uncertainty throughout the past month, I’ve had ample time to ponder everything from my next attempt at organizing my closet to which flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream I’d buy if awarded a lifetime supply (chocolate chip cookie dough, duh).

What I gained from my Drake experienceThough my unmoored reflection often feels a bit erratic, there’s one thing I keep coming back to: my experience at Drake University.

When I bounded down the stairs on Friday shouting, “Yay! Yay! Yay!” at the arrival of my bachelor’s degrees in the mail, I realized the fancy pieces of paper with their swirly script and shiny stamps couldn’t even begin to explain or ‘complete’ my Drake experience.

Drake gave me the freedom to try a little bit of everything — app development, tablet production, broadcasting, electronic news gathering, tutoring, reporting and, of course, writing. Along the way, I realized it’s OK to admit what I don’t know, and it’s OK to change my mind.

Tomorrow, I begin my big-kid career as communications coordinator at the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines. I didn’t study public relations and for a long time, saw myself as a news reporter or nothing.

As my professors, classmates and mentors encouraged me to be uncomfortable, to try user experience design, to be the audio director for a live student broadcast (really) and more, I realized I’m not limited to any path, print journalism or otherwise.

That realization comes full-circle tomorrow, as I’ll be back in the company of amazing coworkers and 13 fully articulated dinosaur skeletons, per SCI’s latest traveling exhibition.

Drake gave me a wealth of practical, resume-worthy skills, but most importantly, it gave me a pesky desire to abandon my comfort zone.

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