MDP Graduation

It’sgraduation hard to think that just last week was MDP graduation.  It was the last time that all of us would be together as one group, as MDPs.  It seems funny that less than a year ago, the 40 of us in the green group and the other 40 in the gold group did not know each other.  At this time last year we were all thinking about enjoying the last few weeks of the summer before our real world journey began.

Graduation week was fun with happy hour events, a boat cruise, a capstone project, final thoughts, and a conversation with Mark Czarnecki, the President of M&T and the COO.  Now, I know what you must be thinking when I say graduation and no there were no cap and gown or diplomas; however we did receive our 1 year anniversary gifts and a class picture which we had taken the first week.

Most people aren’t as lucky as I was to be able to learn about a great company, make instant friends because of a common experience being in the program, and have a true hands on experience on the job that never once felt like an internship which often times programs can.  If I had to go back and do it over, I would do it again in a heart beat.  I am one of the lucky ones of my friends from college, who love what they do.  Who enjoy going to work every day and has found something I am passionate about.  So I encourage you to consider M&T’s MDP program or another development program if you feel that it is right for you.  Never take a job because someone else says its good or someone tells you to do it. Take a job because it scares you, take a job because it makes you nervous, often times those are the best experiences.  But hey, I have only been in the working world for a year so what do I know.M&T Plaza

With MDP now over and for those of you who have followed this blog over the course of my first year in the real world, you must be thinking what next? Well, I will work as a Business and Planning Analyst in the Innovation Center of Excellence.  It is an exciting time for banking and don’t worry my blogging doesn’t stop just because the program is over.  No way!  I am in the real world to stay and this is just the beginning of my journey in Corporate America. I have ambition and big dreams which I intend to make a reality.


graduationIt is hard to believe that graduation was just over a month ago and I am now the holder of two degrees, my masters and my bachelors.  It seems like just yesterday I started as a freshman at RIT and was living in the dorms.  It is amazing to think back on all that I accomplished and experienced.  My friends told me in high school that they believed I was destined for college, college was going to be my best experience to date and they were right.  College was so much better than high school for me at least but for others it is a different story and that is okay because everyone’s path is different. College for some people is an extension of high school, they don’t learn anything new in the sense of life experiences, they may pick up a few new math equations or understand new subjects but they don’t experience what college has to offer in the sense of growing up.  For me college was a time of coming into my own, figuring out who I was a person and who I wanted to be in the future. katherine schwarzeneggerNow I am not saying I have all the answers but who really does.  During this month off, I have spent time reading by the pool and really relaxing.  Reading nothing of great importance in my life but just reading because I enjoy it.  My latest book that I finished in three sunny days by the pool was, I Just Graduated…Now What?by Katherine Schwarzenegger and if you are like me a recently graduated student, I highly recommend reading it this summer.  I do not know if I would have picked it up had I not won it from Barnes and Noble in their end of term twitter contest but I am very glad I tweeted my piece of advice for college students because it allowed me the chance to realize I am not alone in how I am feeling post-graduation. RITMy copy is signed by the author; however, she may never know who I am.  If by some chance she does happen to read this post I want her to know that we have a lot in common in the sense that we both strive to do good in the world, leave our own mark and break out of the shadows (her shadows may be more public than mine but none the less what I saw from reading her book is that a name does not get you everything – you have to work just as hard if not harder to prove your worth). Katherine, if you are reading this, I hope that one day I have the chance to meet with you, maybe collaborate on a project together or just pick your brain on different things.  As was stated in your book, you are young but can still have a voice.  You may not have all the answers but who really does? Growing up is about finding your path because every piece of the puzzle makes for the journey.  Hopefully one day our journeys will cross because your book was truly inspiring. Sorry to my readers for my slight tangent,  I Just Graduated…Now What?, is a compilation of interviews of famous people who have been down the road before the graduates of today.  Katherine interviews: athletes, actors, comedians, DJs, politicians, talk show hosts, entrepreneurs, rising chefs and many other public figures whom you may or may not know, who struggled with the What Now question.  Katherine tells her story of her recent graduation in the Spring of 2012 from USC along with many others in a youthful way that will keep you turning each page because it is extremely relatable.  Whether you read it to make yourself feel better about where you are at, to see that you are not alone or to be inspired to follow your dreams, this is a must read during the summer after you graduate! Going to college at Rochester Institute of Technology may not have been my dream school growing up; however, after a few weeks on campus, I knew it was meant to be.  It is hard to believe I almost crossed it off my list thanks to a terrible recruiting visit there during October of my Senior Year of High School.  Life is funny sometimes, at RIT the campus looks flat and boring at first sight, the bricks all look the same and there appears to be no character.  But when you take a closer look and join the RIT community, you realize like each student attending, the bricks are all unique.  The unique blend of cultures, majors, colleges, ethnicities, programs, clubs and teams at RIT – offers students a one of kind experience.  RIT is no longer just for the techies but I will say if you do not believe at least a little part of you is a nerd, RIT is not the school for you. RITLooking at RIT from a distance people may say, how did you go there for four years? Why stay?  Because RIT was my home, RIT was where I was supposed to be and RIT is a huge part of who I am today.  I believe that you define your own college experience, you choose your own level of involvement and you decide if you will be the type of student that embraces the opportunities given to them or sits in the back of the room and does not give anyone a chance to get to know them.  I was not the later of the two options if you can not tell.  I took every opportunity I could to become someone who was recognizable and not just because of athletics.  I made sure my professors knew me as the student so that when it was time to come looking for career advice, they were willing to help me. I was very fortunate to have some great professors in both my undergraduate programs and masters programs.  I would not have traded the experience for the world.  People have asked me, “If you could go back, knowing what you know now would you choose a different school?”  Without hesitation my answer is “no shot”!  RIT The next question that tends to follow is, “Would you have gone back for your MBA right away if you could do it again?”  My answer may be more calculated but it is along the same lines, “Yes, I would because I had many loose ends left to tie up.  As an NCAA athlete you are given four seasons for your sport, just four.  Having only used three of them, I had my class, my seniors, my senior year, and my team to return too, they weren’t finished with me and I wasn’t finished with them.  I also had a lot of goals that were not accomplished yet and when I set goals, I plan to achieve them unless it is not physically possible. There are not a lot of people in the world who get to say they were a student-athlete let alone a four year student-athlete.  It takes commitment, sacrifice, desire and passion to play all four years because it is stressful but it can be done and I am proud to say I am a part of the four year student-athlete club.  I am the type of person who completes what I set out to accomplish and I had committed to four years of basketball at the division three level and I was not willing to walk away just yet from that promise simply because I was faster at school than the average student.  graduation caps I believe that the commitment and loyalty shown in college is just as important to perspective employers as past work experience.  The lessons and work ethic learned on a team in college are life lessons I will carry through with me to the real world.  Plus, had I not gone back to RIT I wouldn’t have been able to redefine and grow the Tiger Den program and make all of the connections I did this year. But if I was asked had I not completed my undergraduate career in three years and done it in the traditional four, I can’t answer that question because I was not in that situation.” RITA masters was always in my future it was just the timing and for me, four years and two degrees later, I could not be happier.   Remember that everything you do, each step you take whether you feel like it is a step towards something or not, is a step on your path. My biggest advice is try to live your life with no regrets.  If you think it is something you could regret by not doing, just do it.  I knew that if I did not take my selfie crossing the stage during graduation then I would regret it.  What harm could come from me doing it? Well, the picture may not have come out perfect but seeing the look on the Mr. Saunders face, yes, E. Philip Saunders, the namesake of my college, was a look I will never forget.  He was cracking up and smiling and I hope will now remember me.  It may be something as little as that but those little things will add up to a lifetime of memories.  saunders college of business

High School Can End

Cortland High School Over the last month I have had time to look back on what happened over my school experience.  I have been able to actually relax for the first time in 4 years, go on vacation (blog post to come) and to go home to spend time with my family and friends.  Spending time at home allowed me to realize how lucky I was to grow up in the town I did.  Cortland may be small and definitely has gone down hill since my experience going through the school system; however, it was the sense of community that formed my experience.  I love my neighborhood and I will be sad when the day comes in the next few weeks when my mom calls me to let me know the house has officially sold.

Senior PictureBut getting to spend time with my high school friends allowed me to reflect on how different my college experience was vs. my high school time.  Because of my busy schedule with basketball and school and co-oping in the summer, I wasn’t able to go home for more than a few days at a time during the four years so I hadn’t seen my friends more than a handful of times.  I realized how much I had missed them but I also realized that there were people in my town that hadn’t grown up since leaving high school…to put it simply, a lot of things were the same as if it were four years ago, only this time, I was different, along with a handful of others.  I am sure it is the same in a lot of other small towns but for me the only experience I have to go on is my own.

Catching up over drinks with some of the girls, I realized that my high school experience wasn’t as unique as I had thought in the sense that when I felt excluded, I wasn’t the only one.  High school was not my favorite time, I had my friends but I got used and walked all over just because I wanted to fit in.  High school is filled with “mean girls” or “popular people” that feel that they are better than others.  Sadly a lot of them don’t realize that they are the stereotypical mean person.  Now, I am not saying my school was like the movie, Mean Girls but I think every high school has their similarities.

I am very fortunate to have been able to go to a school like RIT because of its diverse nature, everyones willingness to except virtually everyone and how “real” most people are.  I think in high school everyone is trying so desperately to fit in and find their way or define who they are, they tend to just go with the crowd.

athlete quotesNow I am sure there are some that might read this and go, “what the hell is she talking about” because I appeared to have a really good high school experience and was friends with the “popular” people and don’t get me wrong, I did but it wasn’t my favorite time but I know I did not have it the worst, my situation could have been so much worse and I am sorry for those who were mistreated or victimized in high school by bullies, either mentally or physically.   I was never a victim of physical violence; however, I definitely had my fair share of mind games played on me.  Looking back on it, I think that high school was the way it was for me because I knew I had so much more in my future that was outside of this town so I just let it be and didn’t fight for something better.  By the end of my senior year I was sick of being taken advantage of, coming in second place for plans with people and ready for a change and ready to make my mark on the world at RIT and beyond.

friendsSo for those of you reading this, that felt like me in high school, the girl that didn’t want to go out and drink, who would rather watch a movie with her mom than be out trying to sneak into a bar, read a book on the weekend instead of hanging out at the mall, who put everything she could into getting better on the court for her team, or set a goal and did everything in her power to accomplished it, this post is for you.  Life is so much better when you are true to yourself, when you believe in yourself and know that you can accomplish anything you set your mind too.  Know that the mean girls in high school will probably still be stuck in high school (figuratively) in four years and know that if you allow yourself to get out of your town, you will be embraced for who you are.

I haven’t changed much since high school, though some would (and have) said I have changed.  But for those who believe I have changed, I have changed for the better.  I no longer allow people to walk all over me, I have grown up and believe in myself and try and better myself.  When I have a problem with someone I don’t spread gossip I confront that person nor do spread gossip that was shared with me.  However, in my opinion I am not far from that girl who choose to be home with her mom and sister watching a movie over sneaking into a bar. I would rather have a chill night with friends and some drinks than get hammered at a club.  I would still rather not waste hours at the mall and I continuously challenge myself in new ways mentally and athletically (though no longer for a team) and strive to reach every goal I set.

So to that girl in high school, who was just like me…I promise, life is so much better when you choose the way you want to live.

California girls


My Final Planned Class

RITIt is a surreal feeling.  I have officially had my last class of my academic career (that I have planned right now).  Who knows what down the road will hold for me since I love to learn but I am also very excited because I am ready to experience the real world (maybe not the bills).

These next eight days are going to be really hard because it means 3 finals and 1 presentation but I know that come Thursday afternoon next week it will be very exciting!

This semester was not my ideal semester.  It was stressful and boring at some points.  The classes I was excited about taking turned out to be total duds.  I was hoping to pick up a few more skills than some of the classes offered me.  I hate classes where professors simply read from the slides (why am I paying to be there if I could read them myself).  I also hate classes where professors do not seem to understand the material they are supposed to be teaching.  I am not knocking my school at all, the experience I have had at RIT has been amazing.  The professors we have are great people and have great real world experience.  When you get them in a one on one setting it is great to be to talk to them about career paths and future opportunities.  Sadly, when you mix senioritis with nice weather nearly any class can become hard to sit through.

Now that I am nearing the end of my time at RIT I have time to reflect.  It is not often that as a high school senior you make a plan and stick to it, but I did.  I said that I was going to complete my undergrad and MBA in four years while completing my NCAA eligibility and I did it.  I completed my four years as a member of the RIT Women’s Basketball Team and received my BA in New Media Marketing with minors in Mass Communications and Digital Business and as of next week will have my MBA with a concentration in Management Information Systems.

Life is changing fast but if there is one thing I am sure of, when I set my mind to something I can accomplish anything!

today you are you

Remember Your Team Helped You Get There

2013-14_RIT_Women_s_Basketball_Team_Photo_webThis was a huge week for me and my team.  I am so pleased to say that for the first time in our senior class’ 4 years at RIT we have clinched a berth in Liberty League playoffs with a week left of the regular season.

Last week was a 3-0 week for our team solidifying our spot in the top 4 in the league.  After this weekend we will know who we will meet next Wednesday in the semi-finals.  I know our team is ready and I know that we can beat anyone if we play the way we did the last three games.  It seems that we are clicking on cylinders now which will be exciting to see when our season is on the line during the game!

Not only was this a big week for my team but also for me personally.  Friday was our Think Pink Game where we raise money for cancer research or a specific cancer based fund.  For me Think Pink has always been close to my heart.  I lost my calculus teacher in high school to breast cancer and I know she has always been my guardian angel on the court and watching over everything I have done in college.  I know she is smiling down at me now as she was one of greatest supporters from the very beginning of everything I did.  Not only was Friday our Think Pink Game but Saturday was the final game we would play at home at Clark Gym and was my class’ Senior Day.

The four seniors in this class are incredibly close in pairs and as a group.  I know that even when the season is over and graduation has come and gone we will still be friends.  These girls will be in my wedding, we share a special bond and relationship that no one else will ever understand.  We have gone through so much in just four years whether it was injuries, family ordeals, break-ups, new relationships, fights, make-ups, numerous times where someone planned to leave the team in and out of the season…but in the end we stood there on Senior Day, together as we had planned it as freshman and even before setting foot on campus for the first day.  We came into the program to change the RIT Women’s Basketball program and make-RIT-history and right now we are in the middle of it all.  The bad blood is gone from the team and we know we are leaving a team that is more secure than ever in culture and bonding…but we aren’t ready for it to be done quite yet we still have many games to be played.   RIT Women's Basketball Seniors

After an emotional weekend it was released yesterday that I was named to the 2013-14 Capital One Academic All-America Division III women’s basketball second team, which is selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).  I can officially say I am an All-American and it is nice to be able to say the academic part of it as well because being a STUDENT-ATHLETE has always been a roll I looked up too and aspired to be.  But these types of awards (the bigger ones) do not come to just an individual, it is important to remember that these awards are a representation of your team.  They do not just give these awards to any player who has the stats or the GPA.  Another criteria is how the team is doing in their league and overall.  Major awards are given to the best players who have led a team to something, done something with their skills and made their teammates better.  I hope that I can say that I have helped my teammates be better because I know that they have only made me a better player and person.

So this post is not about my accomplishments it is about saying thank you to my teammates who have gotten me where I am.  To my three seniors who have pushed me for four years – thank you for being there for me at my best but also at my worst, you three are my sisters.  To Mallory who through thick and thin has been my best friend since that trip to the Outlets before Freshman year.  Who knows every move I am going to make before I make it.  And who has been my battle-buddy everyday in practice – but when it comes to games, we have our unstoppable high-low down!  To Jess who is the real reason I am RIT and for first showing me the vision of changing the program.  To Kayla for being the clear voice of reason when all the stresses said to leave the game.  To Sarah for being the best “head strong” teammate and for coming back to be a part of a team I don’t think you ever thought you would love as much as you do, we needed you this year and they need you next year!  To Maria, for being my Shannon at RIT- your voice is something your teammates will listen to, bring it everyday and every game.  Feel confident in that role and own it.  To Ash, “coming in hot” – you are going to do amazing things, just remember when the game gets rough to take a deep breath.  If you need it, pull yourself out for a second to resettle yourself. To my freshman, watching the five of you grow has been amazing.  Syd, start to use your voice.  You and Maria need to use each other and force each other to get better.  It will be a constant back and forth between who is the starting PG but that is only going to make you better and prep you for your senior year when it is all you.  Julia – your senior year you are going to lead this team and I can’t wait to watch.  Ally, I know this year may not have been what you expected but you will never know how much I admire you for getting beat up by me day-in and day-out of practice and rarely seeing the floor in the game but still coming with a smile and ready to go the next practice.  You inspire me.  Bre, you inspire me everyday in practice with how hard you work.  I know at times it may be frustrating and not seem to be worth it, but I promise you it is.  You make this team better! Christina, to make the decision to red shirt is a hard one (I am told) but you are going to be happy you get those full four years healthy.  To all the non-seniors – I promise you there are going to be days where you don’t see the point of playing, when you feel that your head and heart is not in the game anymore, when you think there are more important things in your life or feel like you have too much going on.  All I have to say is don’t listen to that voice because being a four year athlete is way more worth it in the end.  The memories, the skills and the people you will meet along the way will far out last the pain, sweat and tears that are poured into the game.  You will not remember how stressed out you were because of having practice the night before an exam but you will remember your teammates and the feeling of winning a championship or breaking a record.

I love everyone on my team through thick and thin this is hands down the best TEAM I have played with at RIT – you are my friends, you are my family, you are my OHANA!


Now that graduation has come and gone it is time to reflect on all that has happened in the last few years (for me it was three). So what did I truly learn and accomplish at RIT?

  1. Family is ForeverRochester Grad
    • You should never take your family for granted.  Most of my family made the trip to come and see me graduate and it meant the world to me.  The day was made when I had both sets of grandparents and multiple members from both sides of the family there.  If I have learned one thing during college it is: family will always have your back and stick by you regardless of what you do.
  2. Learn to Expect the Unexpected
    • There were so many twists and turns over the last few years in college that I could never have seen coming.  My passion for Nike has not dimmed; however, I learned there are more options out there than just working for Nike.
    •  I would never have seen myself needing heart surgery during college or ever missing a college basketball game.
    • I never saw myself joining SportsZone or finding a passion for the more technical side of marketing.
    • College is about finding out who you are and I definitely feel that I found out who I am and who I want to be.
  3. Life is About Embracing ChangeRIT graduation
    • When you are going through college you are going to be going through a lot of different changes.  Not eating home cooked meals, living on your own, no curfew, meeting a lot of new people, finding your classes, adjusting to a new schedule.  It can often be a scary thought but remembering that thousands of students have done it before you can help.
  4. Don’t Be Afraid to Fall in LoveRIT

    • Falling in love can be one of the scariest things but it can also be one of the best things.  I have never been happier than I am right now.
    • Graduating with my best friend made it all the more special and even though this next year will have us in different places we will always have the memories of the last two years and it will make the time we do have together even more special.
  5. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
    • In college, failing was not an option for me; however, sometimes failing is the only option and you have to look at the positive that the situation can hold.  College projects can be stressful, groups may not always work out, friends can let you down, teams can have hurdles along the way but in the end will it all matter five years down the line?
    • Nothing in life is perfect and in the real world, life is not always going to play out as you planned it and college is a great place to learn to go with the flow.
  6. Don’t Be Afraid to Do Something That Scares You
    • College is about scaring yourself.  They say college is the time of your life but I say, college is the time to find out what your life is going to be.
    • My convocation keynote speaker, Alex Kipman, stated that if your happiest moment is not in the second half of your life than you will look back with regret. College may be the happiest moment(s) for now, for some people; however, that is only acceptable until I am 40, then what?
    • You have to find yourself in college and know what gives you excitement, joy, happiness to be truly happy and live your life to the fullest.

Even though I have one more year to complete my MBA at RIT, finish out my eligibility for basketball, work on an “intern” salary, call myself a student, my life is just beginning and I am excited to see where this summer and this next year and beyond takes me.  I can officially call myself a college graduate with a BS in New Media Marketing and a double minor in Mass Communication and Digital Business.


Graduating – Hello Real World

As graduation for me quickly approaches (12 days), I started to think about all of the skills I have acquired during my undergraduate career and thought I would pass along must know skills before graduating.  I was inspired by an article on saw on Mashable.  Here is my list that I have come up with:

  1. Online Banking
    • Soon, the days of banking off of your parent’s credit card, birthday money, graduation money or your student paycheck will be gone.  You will be receiving a real check from a real world job and it will be about rationing that until your next check.  I have had my own bank account since I was going into 11th grade (which I put my work paychecks in) and I have learned a lot about online banking and saving but I still have never had to pay real bills.  I have begun to learn in the last few weeks how automatic billing works so that I will only have to worry about managing the account funds.
    • I was very grateful for my mom starting me young.  It was important for me to learn the value of a dollar early on so that in college I did not squander my money.  One of my biggest recommendations is learn to manage your finances and start saving in college or even before like I did.  It will pay off in the long run.
  2. What is your personal brand?
    • Do you Google yourself? Do you know what shows up on the first, second and third pages of Google when someone searches your name? You should, because you beter believe that future employers will start to Google your name when they are deciding whether or not to hire you or even call you in for an interview.
    • Do you have pictures posted to your social network that probably should not be online?  Employers will also try to friend you on Facebook.  It may be time to delete those pictures from freshman year of you at the party funneling beer or playing pong.  Better yet, if you are reading this before going to college, don’t allow those pictures to get online.
    • What are your talking about on Twitter?  Are you talking all about partying? That may not be the best option because it can be taken the wrong way.
    • Is your profile private?  Private profiles, especially on Twitter can make people wonder what you are hiding.  Twitter was designed as a micro-blogging site and having your profile private is like having a private blog, what is the point?
  3. Learn to Network
    • It is never to early to start networking.  Developing those connections early on in your college career can be key to having more opportunities at the end of it.
    • I made it a point to have my professors get to know me; as well as, my academic advisor, my co-op advisor and other staff in my college and other areas of the university.  RIT is a large campus and I wanted to make sure I stood out amongst the 17,000+ students we have.
    • You never know who knows someone.
  4. Know how to Budget
    • This goes right along with online banking.  Most college students stay on a meal  plan all 4 years and never really have to go to the grocery store.  Your grocery bill can get expensive, especially if you do not know how bargain shop.
    • I recommend looking at the unit price instead of the regular price. This price can often tell you what really a good deal is or is not.  If it is something that you will use everyday, you can always buy a bigger jar.  However, if it is something that you will only use on occasion then why not buy a smaller container?
    • I recommend finding deals online and showing the store that deal (some will match it), buy the Sunday paper (it is the one with all of the coupons) or become a member at wholeseller like Sam’s Club or BJs.
    • I always buy my chicken at Sam’s Club because I can keep out what I need and freeze the rest in sandwich bags for a later date . When it is only $1.25  a pound compared to $4 a pound at the regular grocery store, I can not complain.  I buy spinach at the bulk food stores as well because the $4 container costs me just as much as 2 bags of salad would at a grocery store but I get twice as much, plus I eat a lot of spinach salads.

Understanding your way around after college can lead you to having more success with your money, relationships (both business and personal) and life in general.