Inspiration from Intimidation

The following is a guest post by Communications@Syracuse student Christopher Gere.

The best way to describe my recent immersion experience in New York City is a combination of intimidation and inspiration.

Flying into the Big Apple is almost an indescribable experience. I had seen it in so many movies and television shows growing up, but now I was going to actually be there. Ready or not, I saw the skyscrapers through the airplane window as we entered the city’s airspace and began our descent into LaGuardia Airport. I had just finished my first semester of classes, and now I would have to show off some of that knowledge to 80 or so fellow students. I’m not currently working in the field of communications, but the majority of the people at the immersion were industry professionals. This made me feel like I had no business being there and that someone more deserving should have had my slot.

But my plane had already landed, so I had to deal with it.

My giddiness for New York City helped a lot. I walked by a church that looked suspiciously like the same church the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man stepped on in Ghostbusters, and on my last day there, traffic was completely blocked because a movie was being filmed. Only in New York, right?

For the immersion, we had to work on a native advertising campaign for BuzzFeed and attend a site visit to a large PR firm, Edelman. I was conflicted. As someone who worked in journalism and studied documentary filmmaking, I was wholeheartedly against native advertising, thought lowly of BuzzFeed, and felt public relations firms were the enemy. I was now challenged to support all three while considering a business model angle.

Something happened during the immersion, though. Through the work, the visits and the presentations, I found that I could participate. I know this doesn’t sound all that special, but when you come from a small town to the big city and can hold a conversation as well as contribute equally with the leading professionals in a career field, it’s a huge confidence boost.

This confidence helped me break out of my shell and discover that there was nothing negative about native ads, BuzzFeed and PR firms. Had I not opened my mind and my mouth to engage that weekend, I would have gained nothing from it and would have been worse off.

Everyone wants to be successful in their pursuits. I imagine a lot of my classmates are pursuing this degree for the same reasons I am, to increase their marketability and become more successful. Yet, I feel I got a little something more: inspiration. Since I’m not currently working in the field, I had the room to realize that I could do this, too. I stood next to high-caliber professionals, and I was equal.

To me, that was worth more than school credit.