In almost every guest lecture, alumni call or coffee chat, I get the same advice: Say “yes” to everything. College, especially graduate school at Newhouse, is full of so many opportunities and experiences… if you take advantage of it.
After hearing that advice countless times, I decided to embody the value of saying “yes” and embracing every opportunity, and I am so glad I did. After I started saying “yes,” my eyes were opened to endless possibilities and I completely changed my mindset.
Here’s what happened:
During my four years of undergraduate school, my goal was to be a professional dancer. While that is still a goal (because you should always leave doors open) coming to journalism school was a huge shift in direction. I knew I wanted to be in the field of arts and entertainment media, but didn’t (and still don’t) know exactly what job I want. But I’ve since learned that it’s okay not to know. Not knowing about the industry, and being excited about not knowing things, helped me be more present in class and more curious in conversation. I felt like a five-year-old attending kindergarten, with a wealth of knowledge waiting to be discovered. Someone recently told me to be “spongy.” There is so much out there that we don’t know, so soak up every piece of knowledge you can and be excited about the unknown.
Once you are over your fear of the unknown, confidence is your next best friend. In order to benefit and learn from new opportunities, you must start by taking a leap. In a journalism class this past summer, we received an assignment to interview random people on the street. As simple as it seemed, it was terrifying to walk up to strangers and engage them in conversation. However, I quickly realized that the success of my interviews depended entirely on my own attitude. When I timidly and quietly approached the conversation, some people questioned if I was a journalist at all. But when I confidently steered the conversation and believed that I was a true journalist, people in turn believed in me. Even if you have to fake it till you make it, embodying confidence will result in never having to fake it again.
Once you accept the unknown and embrace your confidence, it’s time to actually start living by your “yes” mentality. By opening up your mind to new opportunities and experiences, you will enrich your education and life greatly. I took a leap and took an entrepreneurship course without knowing anyone else in the class. This resulted in me starting a newsletter and finding countless collaborators. I said “yes” to coffee dates, study sessions, and nights out, and ended up making meaningful friendships. I tried to form connections with everyone I met and email alumni, guest speakers and professors. I even asked for advice from younger Newhouse students! Now I have lots of people to go to for career advice, and I even got a dream internship.
Once you start living the “yes” mentality, as long as you put in dedication and hard work, your life will start to change. Sure, I have bad days, but I wake up every morning excited to see what is in store. So apply for that job, go on that date, join that club and make that connection. Your opportunities will be endless.
Katie Hopsicker is a graduate student in the arts journalism and communication program at the Newhouse School.