Since I was young, I have had a summer job to help pass the time and make some extra money. Last summer, I was accepted into a fellowship with Condé Nast. I was beyond excited because not only would it be my first professional experience for a large company, but it also required me to relocate to New York City, where I have always wanted to live.
After searching for a couple of weeks, I ended up finding a place to live that fit my price range in Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn. I lived with two roommates, who were both photography students. New York is full of commuters and I saw my fair share of subway cars while working in the city. Condé Nast’s office is in downtown Manhattan in the One World Trade Center building, which can take 35 minutes to an hour to commute to from Bushwick. Surprisingly, commuting was one of my favorite parts of living in the city. Some days I would listen to music and people watch. Other times I would read a book [The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende — one of my favorites]. I also got lost a couple of times. The most prolific experience I had while getting lost was during one of my first days in New York when I tried a practice run of my commute to work. I ended up in Upper Harlem, which is really far off. Eventually, I found an express J line train to take home, which I loved because part of it travels above ground.
When I wasn’t getting lost, I would arrive at work, inside the tallest building in New York City, scan my ID card and walk to the elevators, which moved at such a fast rate of speed that my ears would pop. I would get out at the 42nd floor, where the Human Resources and Executive employee offices are located, and say hello to the people at the front desk. I would then proceed to my cubicle to the left of my supervisor, Erica, who is a Connecticut College alumna and a very inspiring person to work with. For the first couple of weeks I researched and analyzed trends across industries to find companies that lead in initiatives promoting inclusion and diversity. I then compiled a list of these companies and their diversity initiatives for Erica. Some days I would sit in on meetings to learn more about programming opportunities at Condé Nast designed to promote inclusive recruitment for specific divisions which generally lack in diversity, like the technology industry. Erica also allowed me to tap into my creativity. She asked me if there were any special projects that I would like to work on.
It took me a couple of days to come up with an idea for my personal passion project. I thought back to my employee training for the Division of Institutional Equity and Inclusion (DIEI) here at Connecticut College, where I work during the school year as an intern. In one training, all of the DIEI student employees were given a timeline of different equity and inclusion milestones that have occurred on the Connecticut College campus, like when the College shifted from a women's college to a college that accepts students of all gender identities. This inspired me to create a history of inclusion and diversity milestones for Condé Nast, which no one had done before. This task included working with the Condé Nast archives, talking with my supervisor to learn more about initiatives she had championed at the company, and conducting independent research. After about four drafts of the same presentation, the final product ended up being really amazing. I was asked to present it to the chief human resources officer and her direct reports. This was kind of terrifying because I had never presented a project in a corporate setting, and the fact that it was done in an executive office made it feel even more intimidating (and fancy). During my presentation, I talked about Vogue’s 1937 cover photo, which was shot by a woman photographer for the first time, and Laverne Cox’s 2018 Self Magazine cover shoot, which was the first time a transgender model appeared on the cover of the magazine. Even though I was really nervous, all of my preparation and edits from my supervisor, in addition to the Condé Communications team, left me with some great material and confidence. The final presentation went over really well and might be used in the future for training purposes, which is exactly why I created it.
After my fellowship ended, I returned to Massachusetts then headed back to Conn for my senior year. I was sad to leave, but my office threw me a going away party and added me on LinkedIn to stay connected in the future. I’m really happy to have been able to have this experience, from learning about different office cultures to taking in a lot of useful information about communications, and seeing Anna Wintour at least four times. I can definitely say it was the most eventful summer I have ever had. Now that I am back at Conn, I feel ready to try to find a job that will be as fun and interesting as Condé Nast was for my post-graduation life!
Enjoying the views from the 42nd Floor