When I was a freshman, Mountain Day was more of a myth to me than an actual event. There was a poster at Lobsterfest, letting people guess when Mountain Day was, and every now and again I would hear not-so-quiet conversation about the actual date. Plus, there was an art to the speculation. Everyone had their own telltale sign that let them know Mountain Day was tomorrow. But most of these speculators forgot the one important fact about Mountain Day: It is always tomorrow.
Of course when Mountain Day did come it was amazing! After all, it’s a day off from the rigors of academics and, for once, a day to sleep in. It provides an opportunity to rest, to have a break right before Midterms begin, and it can also be a catch up day, a time to study for the upcoming Calculus test or to work on an Organic Chemistry pre-lab. Whatever reason the students of Juniata College have for wanting or needing Mountain Day, they all let loose a collective sigh of relief, as the news of Mountain Day echoes across Campus.
For me, Mountain Day this year was meant to be a day to catch up on homework. But fate had other plans, and instead I spent most of the day catching up on sleep and friends. Looking back (a mere three days later) that is really what I needed. As classes get deeper into material and professors begin to expect more from their students as they get into the groove, we often lose track of some aspects of our lives. We forget to call home because we might have an essay due the next day that we have to finish (or start). Sometimes we even neglect our friends because we are so busy with keeping up with work that any free time that we have is dedicated to homework, a job, or sleep.
I found myself exhausted on Mountain Day from lack of sleep and from not having enough contact with my friends. They are the people who keep me from getting homesick, the people I confide in, and the ones who help me to hurdle barriers when I cannot do it on my own. Sitting under a tree at Raystown Lake, I was able to slow down and to even stop a minute and reflect on my first month as a sophomore, to be able to take just a moment to appreciate the people I have surrounded myself with here at Juniata. College is an amazing experience, and the one Juniata offers is unique in so many ways, but it does not come without its trials. Days like Mountain Day offer a respite from the rigors of everyday college life and life in general.
So my advice for next Mountain Day… just see where it takes you. In the end you might find that what you did was more worthwhile than what you had planned.
I was terrified to come to Juniata.
Okay, terrified might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I was scared. I had never been away from my family for more than a week and a half before, and unlike most college freshmen, I wasn’t in the business of actively trying to get away from them.
Juniata is exactly three hours from my hometown of Springfield, Virginia. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a really long walk if you don’t have a car. My mom wanted me to get adjusted to campus life, so “See you at family weekend!” is what my family said. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my mom and I appreciate that she did that because she was right to leave me some time to get adjusted, but family weekend was a month and a half away. That’s a staggering amount of time to stare in the face. So what did I do? I tried to keep busy, and if I hadn’t already had that in my mind as a plan, Inbound had it in mind for me.
Inbound was a great time, but my group didn’t quite stick together as I had hoped it would. Alas, I was friendless and in possession of free time – a horrible combination. This is where step two of my plan to survive a month and half without my family came in: I would have to be outgoing. So out I went. As it turns out, what everyone tells you is true. It is insanely easy to make friends in the beginning of college. Honestly, I think it would be more challenging to not make friends. Between classes, groups of friends, and clubs after Lobsterfest came around, I was certainly (and still am) very busy.
Somewhere in all of that business, I forgot that I was supposed to be sad, homesick, or whatever I expected to be. I was busy going to the Farmer’s Market or hiking down to the river. I was preoccupied playing late night pool in Eagles Landing and listening to speakers from The Wildlife Society. In all of that shuffle, any glimpse of tears was lost.
I still miss my family in Virginia. I miss sitting on the couch with my Mom and sister, going on meandering car rides with my brother, and eating dinner together. Of course I miss that. I think everyone does. But in keeping busy, I found a family here too. We watch movies together, go on long car rides (we go to Wal-Mart, but we’ll call it long), and everyday we try to sit down to eat dinner together. I’m starting to realize that when I go home, I’ll miss my family here as much as I missed my family when I left.
Over the summer, I had the opportunity to intern at Capital BlueCross, a leading health insurance company located in Harrisburg, Pa. Although my POEs are Health Communication and Psychology, I have worked in Juniata’s marketing department for the last two years, so I decided to intern with Capital BlueCross’ market research team. Little did I know, market research is much different than marketing, so I had a lot to learn! In addition to learning the skills required for market research, I also learned a great deal about myself.
On the first day of the internship, I walked somewhat hesitantly through the big glass doors because, I’ll admit, this was my first time actually seeing the building. My interview was over the phone, so I didn’t see the building until my first day on the job. I was also surprised to find 25 other students waiting in the lobby to begin their internships as well. This was when I discovered that Capital BlueCross has a huge corporate internship program with students employed in almost every department. And here I thought that I would be their only intern, which leads to Lesson #1: Research the company’s internship program a little more so that you are adequately prepared for your first day.
Speaking of research, I would be doing plenty of that over the summer! I learned so many new skills related to Microsoft Office and several other new databases. I also worked on a project with four other interns from different departments on how Capital BlueCross could better engage millennial employees and customers. We were planning on presenting our findings to our managers at the end of the summer, so we knew that we had plenty of time to work on the project. We planned out our weekly goals and paced ourselves accordingly, until one mid-summer day, we were asked to present our research to the CEO, Gary St. Hilaire, within three days of receiving the request. And now, we were scrambling, which brings me to Lesson #2: Be prepared for curveballs. Although we were rushing to compile all of our information, the presentation was definitely a success, thanks to increased effort from everyone involved.
Reflecting on my internship, I am very grateful to have had such a wonderful manager and co-workers. They were very approachable and always willing to help me when I had questions. From this experience, however, I did learn some more about my own workplace preferences. Market research requires long hours at a desk without much interaction with the outside world. Since I am more of a people-person, I asked my manager if I could shadow some other departments. Thankfully, she was very flexible and willing to let me shadow a health educator for two days. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with her out in the community, and I even decided that I might want to pursue this field further in graduate school. Lesson #3: Be proactive and get the most out of your internship experience.
All in all, I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to intern at Capital BlueCross. Not only did I learn more technical skills, I also learned a lot about myself and my work preferences. My internship was a wonderful experience, and I would definitely recommend it to other students!
Some people love their first year of college. Other people struggle academically, or socially, or may have an “off” semester. Last year, I rocked back and forth between liking school, drowning in work, and having a hard time socially, which made my first year at Juniata a little strenuous for me. However, I am back for my sophomore year and it has started out with a BANG!
I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the hosts for This Week At Juniata, a weekly web show about different events happening throughout campus each week, which is then sent out to students and posted on Facebook to gain more attention to events on campus. I have never had a job acting in front of a camera before, but I am a Theatre Performance POE, so this has been amazing exposure and a really great skill-building process for me! I have met so many people through working on the show, and have gotten so close to my co-host, director, producer, editor, cameraman, and boss. Each week we plan an outline for the show to be filmed on Monday, which is then released on Thursday. Although a potential script is written by the producer, with input from my co-host and I, a lot of the work is improv! Sarah (my co-host) and I are really comfortable with each other (even though she is a senior and I am a sophomore). We have so much fun goofing off, doing ridiculous things, and laughing on camera.
Working on This Week At Juniata has also helped me a lot socially. I tend to be very closed off when meeting new people, but now strangers will come up to me on the quad and tell me how much they liked this week’s episode, or that they love my outfit, or they think I’m hilarious. This feels incredibly weird, yet very flattering at the same time! I really cannot thank the Digital Media Studio enough for allowing me to be a part of such an amazing show. (They are also responsible for a lot of footage of events, creating videos for the Admissions Office and televisions around campus, and so much more behind the scenes work that I am not even aware of!)
I feel so much more supported by others around me now that I have this exposure to the entire Juniata community, and my confidence has skyrocketed as well! The hosts for This Week At Juniata change each year, so you never know, you may be selected to host in the upcoming years!
Attached is a link to our most recent episode, but you can check out all of our weekly shows on the Juniata Facebook page!
Over the summer this year I was fortunate enough to work for a corporation in Philadelphia by the name of SPIN, Special People in the Northeast. This corporation is extremely large and works towards educating and servicing individuals of all ages who have disabilities. I was fortunate enough to be able to not only earn the job as a lead camp counselor, but also to have an opportunity for this job to count as college credit and an internship.
While working at SPIN, my duties included planning and leading the weekly activities, accommodating needs, administering first aid, monitoring/regulating behaviors, supervising trips, interacting with parents, and serving as a leader to senior and junior camp counselors. It was a lot of responsibility to take on but extremely fun and rewarding to see the effects of my hard work!
Studying education at Juniata really prepared me for this job. There were so many techniques that I learned in class that I applied to my experience as a camp counselor. I felt comfortable being in charge, even though a lot of the staff was older than me. I felt confident in my ability to apply my education and leadership skills to my work.
A large part of why I was hired was because of my education and involvement at Juniata. The many skills and experiences that I was able to add to my resume really helped me get the position, such as the work I did in the Early Childhood Education center on campus. On my application, I was also able to include the work I did for the Special Olympics. Because of these opportunities at Juniata, I felt extremely prepared for the scenarios and questions that were asked during the interview. It was great to see that my college degree is already paying off before it is even complete! I can’t wait to see what I can do next, once I graduate.