The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Series Renewed

Almost two years ago now, when I was on one of my blogging highs (aka super motivated to blog a lot), I started a series called “The Road I Traveled.” I was about six months into a new job and moving halfway across the country (again) and I felt that I needed a bit more motivation as a young professional. I kept thinking, surely other people are experiencing these ups and downs of being a post grad! Surely others feel the back and forth tug between having no idea how to navigate being adult to feeling good about not having to call your mom for the third time that week.

What I found the most encouraging was when I would be chatting with friends who exclaimed “me too!” Not that I felt good that others were struggling too, but it was helpful to know that a lot of those ups and downs were completely normal.

The more I chatted with others about this topic, the more I also heard about the struggle of not having other young professionals/20-somethings to relate to. There are so many different paths to set out on after high school whether its college, trade school or straight into the work force. Then the path splits again into more school, starting families, making big moves and starting careers (or realizing that you want something totally different than what you studied for.) We are always questioning what the right decision is, and unfortunately that often leads us to comparing ourselves to others who are often on a totally different path

So I started “The Road I Traveled” series with the hope of offering a bit more real-life, relatable motivation. In each post I highlighted different young professionals, and let them share how they got to where they are, their ups and downs, and how they are striving to make it through this phase of life.

I received way more positive feedback that I could have ever anticipated, and when I had to slow down my blogging schedule a few months later, I was disappointed that I let this series slip.

Well, its coming back.

Because after two years, sure I’ve figured some things out. But for everything I’ve learned and accomplished, I have 5 more questions and hills to climb.

So I hope that this series once again serves its purpose and that each reader can find a little something in what they read that makes them exclaim, “me too!”

As always, I am going to try to plan ahead for future guests so that this series can be featured regularly, but with that said, if you are interested in being featured and I haven’t asked yet, don’t be shy, Let me know!

Stay tuned for the first new guest on Thursday!

If you are new to this series, click here for a list of all of the guests featured previously!

Cheers!

P.S. I still call my mom multiple times a week.

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Taylor

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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When I stop to think about it, I have quite a few interesting stories about how I’ve first met people over the last couple of years. My feature today is a good example of that. Taylor was a fellow Agriculture Future of America (AFA) student, but she was only starting to get really involved as my involvement was slowing down so though I knew who she was, I don’t think we had ever chatted prior to the summer of 2014. I was traveling to Austin, TX, to participate in my first #AgChat conference and the way my flights worked out, I got in before 10 am and didn’t have to be at the hotel for events to start until that evening. I decided to be a little brave and reached out to Taylor and her friend Taysha who had mentioned in the conference Facebook group that they would be in Austin earlier in the day as well. They ended up picking me up from the airport, and then we floated down the river for the afternoon. I still vividly remember how fun and spontaneous that day was!

Taylor has a contagious personality. She’s open and honest about what her goals are, and is not afraid of putting in the work to get here. She’s outgoing, independent and kind, and happens to be a a bit sassy to top it off. There really haven’t been that many, but I remember many of conversations with Taylor because she is genuine and pours herself into the conversations and people around her. Taylor’s post grad life has already took some twists and turns, but I really respect that she continues to go her own way and put the things that are important to her first. No doubt she’s another great addition to this series!

-Amanda

The Road I Traveled- Taylor

Basics

Name: Taylor Truckey

Age: 23 (and a half!)

Hometown: Leonidas, MI

College: Two years at Western Michigan University before transferring to, and graduating from, Michigan State University

Degree(s): Crop and Soil Sciences (MSU)

Current Location: Michigan, for now!

Current Job: I’ve built an online-based business focused on empowering women to be confident and healthy. I want to inspire people to take risks and live outside the norm if that’s what they feel called to do. Although my primary income isn’t in the ag industry currently, I still do freelance work and have a passion for the ag industry that has shaped my life.

Background Story:  I grew up on a small hobby farm in southern Michigan. After years in 4-H, FFA, and a misguided attempt to be a Poli Sci major, I found my home at Michigan State where I dived into the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

College

How did you choose your college and your major? This might be a long answer! Honestly, when I began looking at collegiate programs, I didn’t want to go to Michigan State. I felt like EVERYONE went there and I’ve always been the person to want to do things a little differently. I was thisclose to going to K-State to study ag but ended up deciding to go to WMU to keep showing in 4-H and to be closer to my grandparents.

After a year, I wasn’t happy in my program. I loved WMU and the Lee Honors College, but I didn’t feel like I fit in there. My heart missed the ag industry and my political science/environmental studies classes were missing the mark for me. I started looking again at K-State, in addition to UNL, OSU, and A&M (let’s be real, I just wanted the ring LOL). I was burnt out. I started considering two-year programs just to be DONE. A family friend forced me to check out Michigan State, and to humor him, I said I would.

After he drove me to campus for a visit, I was hooked. The passion professors had for the program, the energy in East Lansing, and the Spartan pride convinced me it’s where I needed to be. Let’s be honest, ag is also where the jobs are!

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What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships? The groups I was most heavily involved in were the MSU Agronomy Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and Agriculture Future of America. I had internships with B&M Crop Consulting, CHS, FarmLink/MachineryLink, ZimmComm New Media, and worked on campus as both a teaching assistant and in the MSU Weeds research department. I feels like it was already so long ago that I might be missing a few!

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What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change? Deciding to transfer out of WMU was a hard decision. I felt like a failure when I decided at the end of fall semester my sophomore year that I needed to leave Western. I signed up for online classes that spring, moved home, and jumped into an agronomy internship working with some of the best minds in the industry while I waited to hear from MSU. That internship helped me choose my Crop & Soil Sciences major at MSU. I don’t believe in regret and I will always treasure my time at WMU; I met some of my best friends there and had a lot of great opportunities!

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What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year? Just enjoy it. Stress less about your GPA, and more about making memories. Do all of those bucket list blogs that past seniors wrote for you and drink a beer with one of your professors. Celebrate this chapter of your life, but be smart too. Recently, we had to say our final goodbyes to a great friend of ours that graduated from the CSS program last May with us. Without getting too philosophical, those memories are way more important than a GPA that no one asks me about!

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far? Twists and turns! Graduated, started a job, moved, didn’t work out how I planned, moved again. Basically, I’ve learned to just not plan, ever. I’m not doing something I ever would have planned on (there that word is again), but I am happy, my work is incredibly rewarding, and I’ve met so many amazing individuals along the way!

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad? Overall, I experienced a lot of things that I think most don’t by the time they graduate because I applied for a lot of things I probably didn’t qualify for, then figured it out as I went. #realtalk.

I traveled quite a bit the last few years, worked with various groups, learned to work with many personalities, took scary leaps, made a few mistakes, learned from them, survived a knee replacement, almost failed Trig, did fail Chemistry, and yet, somehow, I had a 100% record of surviving. That gives me the strength to continue taking risks. I’m willing to fail, as long as I fail forward and learn from it. I think this is important in any career. In mine, I was willing to take a chance on a job that follows a non-traditional path just because I was willing to say, ‘why not?’ I’m thankful that I took that chance every day. It’s worked out pretty darn good.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for? Learning that in a workplace, co-workers aren’t necessarily friends. I value relationships and consider many people a friend. It can be a hard pill to swallow learning that not everyone values relationships that way!

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What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job? Wunderlist is near the top; any kind of tracking app or CRM that helps me stay on track of things because #scatterbrain. PocketCasts/Audible for personal development and training. Instagram, Facebook; my business is primarily on social media/my phone. I’m learning Google Streak to see if that can help my business grow as well. I also have the Passion Planner that I try to remember to write things down in!

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?  Motivating and training teams, engaging people, and renovation vintage campers are current strengths. I’m not a detail-oriented person, that is something I have to constantly work at. But I realize it. And luckily you can spend $ on apps that serve as personal assistants to keep you looking like you have your life together.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult? You have to dig deep and find your why that is going to keep you pushing through the hard shit (can I say shit?). It will fuel you the moment you get a message that says, “I believe in myself again because you believed in me first.” The idea that some people have no one in their corner, I want to be that person for them. I want to give them the tools chase whatever life it is they want to be living. The tough days are made easier by having my Airstream parked outside my window; it keeps me looking towards a life of flexibility on the road. That will come with it’s own perks like being able to give my time freely in service to others.

 

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed? Lots of personal development, adventures, vacations, weekend trips, and the occasional pedicure.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far? Learning to go after what I want. I spent so many years doing the things I thought I had to. It’s been fun figuring out life with a new set of lenses that college and post-grad life seem to give you.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about? Outside of work, I spend a lot of time traveling. I’m also renovating a 1974 Airstream in preparation of an epic roadtrip. The plan is that by the end of August, I’ll be able to hit the road full time for a cross country roadtrip in my Airstream! Donations accepted gladly accepted.

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Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right? A strong cup of coffee, time with Jesus and personal development make it hard to have a bad day! My morning workouts also just make me a nicer person in general HAHA

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace? My phone for sure. It’s what I run 80% of my business off of!

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be? I freakin’ LOVE what I do, but I think if I could do ANYTHING, I’d have sponsors pay me to go on my Airstream adventure this fall/winter and just take lots of cool pictures, drink a lot of craft beer and meet amazing people along the way.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college? The people! This is a growing phase and shifting phase of life, it gets hard to keep in touch. But I’m forever thankful for the friendships and memories made during those FIVE years!

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Taylor, thank you so much for taking the time to open up and share about your post grad journey so far! I am excited to see final pictures of your Airstream. You know… Virginia and DC are really pretty in the fall… you may want to add that onto your road trip!

Cheers!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Greg

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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For many, my next guest in this series needs no introduction. In 2012, Greg and his brothers became overnight YouTube stars when they posted their “I’m Farming and I Grow It” parody video that highlighted agriculture and life on a farm in a fun, upbeat way. Since then, the “Peterson Farm Bros” have become spokespersons for the agriculture industry, traveling the world to share their story.

To me though, Greg was the goofy fellow K-State ag comm student who I had to practically beg to finish his design layout for the magazine we were both on staff for. I think the phrase “it was like pulling teeth” would be appropriate to use here. When their first video came out, I watched Greg and his brothers on Fox and Friends days after the video had went viral, and remember thinking, “This couldn’t be happening to a better person.” And I still believe that. Last spring we met up when Greg was in DC for a speaking engagement, and if it wasn’t for all of the world travel and experiences he had to share, you wouldn’t  guess that he is someone who can actually say that he has made a difference. He is one of the kindest, most humble guys I know, and his passion for sharing both his faith and about agriculture is inspiring. It was refreshing though, even after all of that, to sit and chat about the struggles and things that we have learned as young professionals. Needless to say, I am excited to share his story with you.

-Amanda

Meet Greg

Basics

Name: Greg Peterson
Age: 25
Hometown: Assaria, KS
College: Kansas State University
Degree(s): Agricultural Communications and Journalism
Current Location: Assaria, KS
Current Job: Farmer, YouTube Video Producer, Public Speaker

Background Story: I grew up and still work on a 5th generation family farm near Assaria, KS. I graduated from Kansas State University in 2013. In 2012, my brothers and I started creating YouTube videos about farming. These videos have received over 40 million views and we have used the platform to advocate for agriculture through social media content, farm tours, and speaking presentations.


I went ahead and chose to share my favorite Peterson Farm Bros video. You can see the rest of the their parody videos, as well as other educational videos about agriculture on YouTube HERE. And be sure to check out their website where they have even more educational resources at www.petersonfarmbros.com.

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
I grew up as a big K-State fan so it was always my number one choice for college, but I definitely checked out some other schools as well. I ended up choosing K-State because of the location, the strength of the ag program, and the chance to go to K-State athletic events for four years.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
I had trouble waking up for class! But really, I’m not a morning person and it was hard sometimes. I think the biggest challenges were those weeks late in Junior/Senior year when all the tests/projects/papers came all at once. You just had to push through and get everything done. It takes a lot of motivation to make it through college. I spent much of my first 2 years wasting a lot of time just because as a younger college student I could. I wish I could’ve been more efficient with my time during those years.

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DLC Photography

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
I think most people would say to enjoy it, and I would agree with that. Do your best, but don’t take grades too seriously. Five to ten years later you won’t have regrets about grades, but you’ll think back to that last year and the people you met and the experiences you went through.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
I was unsure of what I was going to do for a career during most of my time in college. I wanted to farm but wanted to find something I could do along with it. I began to pick up speaking engagements related to our YouTube videos during my senior year of school and decided to pursue that once I graduated. One thing led to another and I now do about 90 speaking engagements per year. I’ve been to 49 states and 8 countries because of this and it has given me a great opportunity to see the world and make lots of connections. I spend about a third of my year on the road but I get to farm when I’m home and live a somewhat normal life. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep speaking and traveling, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts!

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
Being an Ag Comm major certainly helped me learn how to create, edit, and promote content. I felt like what I learned in classes was very applicable to life after graduation. However, a lot of what you learn in college isn’t taught in the classroom necessarily. You learn a lot just from the college experience. Social skills, networking, responsibility, discipline, etc. I think practicing some of those things in college helped prepare me for post graduation.

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Greg, Nathan and Kendall – Summer 2012.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
My work life definitely gets a little crazy sometimes so that can definitely be tough. I try to get a lot of exercise. This can be hard when you’re on the road a lot. I play basketball twice a week and run and work out whenever I have time at hotels. Also, getting enough sleep, enjoying some entertainment, and making sure to take some time to invest time and energy in “people” and not just in work related “things.”

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
I think just being self-employed and getting to do what I enjoy for a job. A lot of people wake up and don’t want to go to work. I enjoy farming, writing, speaking, and traveling. Especially when I can balance all of them together without too much of one thing. Also, that somehow I figured out how to mix my major (Ag Communications and Journalism) and my minor (Music Performance) together in my job.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
Leading worship and helping with youth group at church, spending time with family, movies, music, playing sports, community events.

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South Africa.

 

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Greg and his siblings – Laura, Nathan and Kendal.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
Well, like I said earlier, I’m not a morning person so I’m kind of a disaster some mornings. Especially if I’ve just gotten home late from a trip and didn’t get much sleep. Coffee is an absolute must, and that’s become especially true after college.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
My workspace can be outside, in a tractor, at a desk, in an airplane, in a hotel, etc. so it varies quite a bit. My vice would definitely be my phone. It’s what I have in all of those places. And fast internet. If the internet is slow, I get upset.

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
I always wanted to be some type of musician. Not like a rock star or anything, just something where I could get paid to write, play, or sing music every day and have it positively impact other people.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
You miss a lot of things, but with two brothers still in school I can go back to visit and reminisce most of it (like K-State games). However, what you can’t revisit all at once are the people you met when you were there. You do your best to keep up with all of your college friends after you graduate, but you’ll never get to experience all of them living within a few miles of you at once again. To build up that community over 4 years and then have to leave it, that is kind of tough.

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Greg, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule and sharing a bit about yourself! And more importantly, thank you for everything that you do to advocate and put a good face on the industry that we both love! Safe travels my friend!

Cheers!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Rachel

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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I think there is quote that says something about people being in our lives for “a reason, a season or a lifetime,” and I really believe that is true. I have now lived on the West Coast, in the Midwest and now on the East Coast, And between college and my short career, I’ve already had quite a few great experiences. But the most significant part of all of that to me is the different people I have crossed paths with. I think it is really powerful to think about how people flow in and out of our lives, sometimes because of an intentional decision, or something that is entirely out of our hands, and other times because of something simple and fleeting.

I’d like you to meet Rachel. I first met Rachel at some point in college, though to be honest, I really couldn’t tell you when. Rachel is childhood best friends with my college best friend, Megan, which is my complicated way of saying that we now share a lifelong best friend. Megan has always told me that Rachel and I are alike in many ways, and knowing a bit about her over the years, I’ve always had a lot of respect for her. Rachel is very creative, independent and has a kind, old soul. She recently has picked back up on blogging, and focuses on making everything in her life intentional – her conversations and relationships, how she treats herself and how she invests her time. Because of our mutual friend, I have been able to follow a bit of Rachel’s post grad journey and as I started this series, I knew Rachel would be someone that whose story I wanted to share.

-Amanda

the road i traveled RACHEL

Basics

Name: Rachel Williams
Age: 25
Hometown: Wichita, KS
College: Newman University, University of Denver
Degree(s): Bachelor of Arts in Communication, working on a Masters of Professional Studies in Organizational and Professional Communication
Current Location: Wichita, KS
Current Job: Communications Specialist at Spirit AeroSystems
Blog: Postcards by Rachel

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
Who remembers the great recession of 2008? I was lucky enough to turn 18 and pick my college right when the economy crashed. Newman University offered me a fantastic scholarship. I thought I wanted to go to KU, but it was cheaper for me to stay in Wichita and go to Newman. It turned out well and I ended up loving the experience (and meeting my husband!). I left undergrad with zero loans because of my decision to go to the less expensive school. I can’t say the same about grad school…

I started as a business major and changed to communications because the classes sounded a lot more fun. (And they were).

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
The nice thing about attending a small school is I was able to get involved in almost everything. I played collegiate golf, sang in the honors choir for four years, tried being an RA, and studied abroad twice, once to Guatemala and then to Europe. I interned at United Way of the Plains and worked at The White Dress, a bridal shop.

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Celebrating graduation with my husband Raymond.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
My dad died from cancer five weeks before graduation. It was crushing. Besides the overwhelming pain of losing him, in my grief, I lost touch with close college friends. Looking back, I wish we all had known how to communicate better. All I could see at the time was pain and grief. If I’d been able to tell them how I felt – overwhelmed, crushed, depressed and hurt – I think we would still be friends. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. People change and people drift apart.

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Be open to new ideas, people and experiences. Don’t take anything personally. Take an extra year and study abroad.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
Mid-senior year I started a job at the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita, KS. The Museum houses amazing exhibits – dinosaurs, mummies, military items and more – and I had the chance to work in a nonprofit while developing professional skills. I met amazing coworkers and still see them for drinks or dinner all the time. My boss was incredibly supportive when my dad died, when I got married, when I decided to enroll in grad school and when I ultimately left the organization. I worked in marketing and development there for almost three years before I started at Spirit AeroSystems. Spirit is the largest employer in Wichita; we design and build aerostructures for both commercial and defense programs. Working in Corporate Communications, I communicate with Spirit’s nearly 16k global employees daily. I work on both internal and external communication efforts for the company. It’s an amazing opportunity and I love my job.

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I love working in communications! You never know what fun opportunities might come up

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
I worked with amazing professors who cared about me and knew my name. Some focused on professional skills, others on better understanding the world and people. Newman University employs some of the best professors I’ve ever met.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
Office politics.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
Podio, Evernote, my iphone and my Macbook! Podio is an awesome project management app (best on desktop). I put everything into Evernote – work, grad school, and volunteer notes – so I can find everything in one place. Pro tip: organize by tags instead of Notebooks.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
I worked really hard in the last year to be more intentional in my conversations, meetings and calendar. I have a weakness for wine and chocolate… and spending too much money traveling.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
Self-care. If I’m feeling overwhelmed instead of challenged, it usually means I’m not taking care of myself. For me, that can mean anything from a five-minute break to call my husband, taking a Saturday off to stay home, meeting up with my book club tribe, working out or making a cup of tea.

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Here’s a photo from Alcatraz on our latest trip to San Francisco in December

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
In the past year, I’ve realized I need to eat real food, get to the gym several times a week, and have quiet time before or after work to decompress and feel balanced.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
I feel like I changed my life. I made intentional decisions to change my health, mindset and future. My husband and I live on the 24th floor of the tallest apartment building in Wichita. We decided not to sacrifice our urban living dreams to Kansas jobs. Right now, I’m in the middle of my second to third-ish Whole30, a nutritional program that revolutionized how I think about food and what I put in my body. We travel several times a year, I made new amazing friends founded on mutual support and I left my nonprofit job in such an open and honest way that a few months later they asked me to join the Board of Directors.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
One class at a time, I’m plugging away at grad school. I’m a #Whole30 graduate and Paleo advocate! I’m a leader for Real Life Book Club, a women’s personal development group. I also curate a blog, Postcards by Rachel, where I document my journey of creating a more meaningful life, one conversation at a time. To round it out, I volunteer on the Museum’s board and I’m chairing the organization’s annual fundraiser committee.

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#whenyouworkatamuseum… you take wedding photos with a T.rex.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
Breakfast and coffee. On Thursdays, workouts with a personal trainer and Megan, my BFF that guest posts here sometimes. I’ve learned accountability is worth paying for.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
Coffee in the morning, hot tea the rest of the day. Does my Macbook count?

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
A yoga teacher, personal trainer, nutritionist, life coach or travel agent. Oh, was I supposed to pick one?

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
Thanks to study abroad opportunities, my husband and I lived in Europe for four-five months. I think it cost us total about $10,000 (for the both of us). I think my summer in Guatemala cost me about $2,000. That is SO CHEAP. We’ll never be able to travel that cheap again.

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Megan and I on a girl’s trip to Florida last summer (before we both lost 20 pounds – the Whole30 is legit).

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Rachel, thank you so much for being so sincere and sharing your story with me. I LOVE reading your blog posts and am inspired by the way you see the world. I am so glad that we both call that crazy girl our best friend and look forward to our paths crossing again in the future.

Cheers!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Lauren

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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This week I have been traveling for work in Oregon, which meant that I had the chance for a long weekend at home with my family. This afternoon I met with a group of students at my school, and one of the key things we talked about was the importance of building your network and how it evolves throughout college and into your career.

Lauren, my guest feature today, is a perfect example of that.  Lauren is a part of my AFA network, and while I know that we have “known” each other for while, she’s an example of someone in my outer network (because of AFA)  with whom I’ve more recently connected with directly when our jobs led us to cross paths again at a conference last summer. Lauren is a fellow ag comm grad, and like me, moved to an entirely new place for her job. Lauren is incredibly kind, has a heart for agriculture and people, and she is tackling the ups and downs of what I call “the crazy post-grad life” head on. I am excited to share Lauren’s story with you. It’s refreshing and sincere, and she has some great advice!

-Amanda 

Lauren summary picture


Basics

Name: Lauren Prettyman
Age: 23
Hometown: Marion, Ohio
College: The Ohio State University
Degree(s): Agriculture Communication
Current Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Current Job: Media Specialist for South Carolina Farm Bureau

Background Story:
I often tell people I had the best of both worlds growing up – living in the city close to my school friends, yet being able to escape to the farm whenever I wanted. My parents divorced when I was too young to remember; I lived with my mom in Marion, Ohio, a city of about 35,000 just north of Columbus, and visited my dad often, who lives on a beautiful farm right outside of Marion.

I have three younger siblings, and growing up with them was nothing less than crazy at all times. Tyler (21) is in his fourth year at Ohio State to become a small animal vet tech – I know he’ll be great at this because he is totally a dog whisperer. Wesley (15) is already a hundred times more motivated than I was in high school, and will someday reach the prestigious goal of ‘dotting the i’ for the OSU marching band (The Best Damn Band In The Land). Halle (14) has all the athletic ability that the older three of us didn’t get – she’ll be famous one day.

As it was for many farm kids, my love for agriculture grew from helping my dad on the farm. I started 4-H as soon as I was old enough. My two favorite weeks of the year were county fair week and 4-H camp week. In typical ag kid fashion, I joined FFA in high school, continuing the projects I had started through 4-H. I was the Star Greenhand freshman year, spent two years as the chapter treasurer, served as the chapter vice president my senior year and received my American Degree two years later. I was hooked on FFA and, inspired by my advisor, I set off to college to become an ag teacher.

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Hiking with my family in Asheville, NC this past Thanksgiiving

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
When I initially started my college search, I looked for schools everywhere other than Ohio. Knowing I wanted to pursue a career in agriculture, I studied the list of the country’s top ag schools before making any decisions. I visited Purdue, Penn State and a few others, but none of them seemed to fit what I was looking for. At a loss for other options, I applied to OSU and was accepted.

I started as a freshman majoring in ag education, but after participating in my Early Field Experience in a classroom setting, I knew ag ed wasn’t for me. Halfway through my junior year at Ohio State I changed my major to ag communication. I excelled in my ag comm classes and knew that was where I needed to be. I minored in production ag, which allowed me to take an entry level class in just about every part of the Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences  – food science, plant science, animal science, soil science, meat science and ag business.

Despite initially not wanting to go to Ohio State, I quickly fell in love with the university – the campus, the people, the traditions. I am so thankful God had greater plans for me than I could have ever imagined, and led me to Ohio State.

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Ohio State football game with my friends and 100,000 other Buckeye fans!

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I started freshman year in a scholars program – Mount Leadership Society – which focused on scholarship, leadership and service. I quickly learned that MLS was not for me, but because of my involvement in that program, I was able to connect with the other CFAES students, and meet my best friend, whom I attribute much of my college involvement to.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year, that I truly grasped college for what it had to offer. I became involved in anything and everything I could possibly fit into my schedule – Ag Ed Society, Ag Communicators of Tomorrow, Meat Science Club, Ag Business Club, CFAES Student Council, among other things. I was accepted into Alpha Zeta Partners, an OSU ag honorary, which allowed me to travel to Brazil for a semester. I caught the travel bug and also traveled to Chile, Ireland and Costa Rica through CFAES programs.

One organization I became involved outside of Ohio State was Ag Future of America. This organization was the true catalyst for my desire to become an ag leader. The AFA Leaders Conference connected me with students from around the country who were passionate about making a positive difference in the ag industry, and also allowed me to meet industry professionals, presidents and CEOs who were passionate about educating us to be the future leaders of agriculture.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
Motivation was something I struggled with freshman year. I didn’t have the desire to become involved, I wasn’t worried about my grades and I skipped a lot of 8 a.m. classes. Thankfully I snapped out of that, got my grades up and became uber involved. But once I took all of that on, the time management struggle was real. I had to learn how to balance my classes, a million organizations, two jobs, my social life, oh, and sleep at some point. Not entirely sure how I did it, but I must have learned something because I came out on top with good grades and lifelong friendships. Shout out to my parents and friends who supported me and kept me sane!

Do you have any regrets in college, or anything you would change if you had the chance?
I am so grateful for all of my experiences during my four years at Ohio State – good and bad. I am a firm believer in the cliché saying ‘everything happens for a reason’ and because of that, I try not to regret any decisions I have made. However, if I could change anything about my experience, I would have gotten more involved sooner. College is about new experiences and personal growth, and often we do not realize this until we’re already halfway through the journey. And internships – I would do so many more internships!

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The farm I stayed at during my homestay in Costa Rica.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far.
My current position at South Carolina Farm Bureau is new to the organization, making me the first media specialist they’ve ever had! My job description includes responsibilities like writing news releases and creating social media content, but because I’m in a brand new position, I’ve been really fortunate to sort of make it what I want and what the organization needs. I write a lot – news releases, newsletters, magazine articles, government relations content, you name it. One of my favorite aspects of my job is that I get to travel around the state visiting farmers, hearing their stories, using that for content.

I had no idea the steep learning curve I’d face when I started. I was introduced to crops I’d never even seen in a field before – peanuts, cotton and tobacco. I didn’t know what they looked like, how they were grown or how they were harvested. I didn’t even know peanuts grew underground! But I so loved learning about these crops. And parts of South Carolina have a growing season of nearly 300 days, which allows producers to grow fresh produce almost year-round. I have grown proud to be part of this amazingly diverse industry in South Carolina, and I love that my job allows me to tell the story of South Carolina’s farmers.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
Each of the clubs and organizations I was involved in have impacted my professional life in unique ways. The hard skills like time management and budgeting have definitely been helpful in post-grad life, but the soft skills were really invaluable. Communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem solving – these things are used in the workplace and in life every single day! My study abroad trips had an exceptionally large impact on my soft skills and who I am today, too.

Throughout college you meet so many people in classes, organizations and conferences. This is the basis for your network. All of my involvement created a large network of peers and mentors all around the country. I think that has had the largest impact on my life post-college. No matter where I am, I always know someone. But networking doesn’t stop after college – we have to be intentional about expanding our networks and staying in touch with people we’ve met.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?

Moving out of state to a new city where I knew no one. This was one of the best but most difficult decisions I’ve ever made; it was so much harder than I imagined. I thought that after interning in Kansas City for a summer and having a blast, moving to Columbia and making friends would be a breeze. I was wrong. It was difficult, but SO worth it. I have grown so much as a person since my move. I learned a lot about myself and was put way outside my comfort zone to get out and try new things and meet new people. I joined a kickball league (my team won the league), discovered I actually like to run (three 5k’s in 2015) and I’ve expanded my taste for seafood!

Feeling lost. I think Kayla talked about this in her post. When you graduate college and land a job, you expect everything to be awesome. You graduated college – what could be harder than that? Life, y’all. For me, working world is basically a 180 from college world. But the encouraging thing is we all face many of the same challenges. I get in my own world and think no one else understands what I’m going through, but when I actually talk to my friends about it, they’re all experiencing similar ups and downs with their jobs. Don’t get discouraged!

Lessons learned: budgeting is scary, home improvement is hard, termites are evil, a good glass of wine can cure just about anything.

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Kickball team photo after winning our league.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
I am a strong writer, a problem-solver and an excellent listener. I also have a huge imagination which leads me to be curious and adventurous in just about every aspect of my life. I love to try new things. My weaknesses include long-term planning, focusing on tasks, dark chocolate and wine (hehe). If you really want to know my personality type, I’m an ISFP to the core!! (http://www.16personalities.com/isfp-personality)

And apparently I’m a perfectionist (it took me three days and about a hundred drafts to craft my perfect answers for this questionnaire).

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?

My faith, family and friends keep me motivated and on track every day. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by amazing peers, friends and family who inspire me to be my best. When I’m feeling unmotivated or too far from home, it’s the long phone conversations with my parents or close friends that encourage me to keep moving forward.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?

I had the option of getting rid of my personal phone and switching over to my work phone when I was hired. I didn’t do that. Initially because I didn’t want to sell my soul to Farm Bureau, but it has actually worked out great for many reasons. When I leave the office I don’t have to be constantly seeing my work emails pop up. I can periodically check my work phone to make sure nothing urgent has come up, but otherwise work is ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Be intentional about keeping personal life and work life separate. I try not to take my work home with me or let my personal life influence my work.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?

I planned a U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Food Dialogue this past November. Initially, the project was not fully mine, but because of happenings around the office, I had to take over planning. It was my first solo project. To plan out every little detail, pray people show up, and then see the event succeed was enormously rewarding.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?

My free-time is spent traveling, hiking, running, playing kickball, exploring Columbia, and staying involved at church.

My relationship with God has grown a lot since moving to Columbia. I found a church I love, was baptized and have recently started a bible study group for young professional women in the area.

My love of hiking has also grown. South Carolinians are big on the outdoors. I’ve always loved hiking, but thanks to South Carolina’s basically year-round beautiful weather and close proximity to tons of parks and trails, I hike a lot more than I ever have. It’s awesome because I’m spending time doing something I love and I’m getting a good workout at the same time!

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?

I always check the weather before leaving the house – wouldn’t want to get caught in the rain without an umbrella. And I love to listen to K-Love on my drive to work – it starts my day off on the right foot.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?

Green tea! It has the perfect amount of caffeine to wake me up but keep me focused. And music. I’m addicted to Spotify.

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?

Something that would allow me to travel a lot. Travel blogger/writer, or if I work on my photography skills, a travel photographer.

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Visiting McWay Waterfall in Big Sur, California with my best friend Mara.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?

My friends! A lot of us who graduated together have moved out of state. I miss being a short walk from all of my friends.

The beauty of campus. There’s nothing better than the start of a new season on The Oval – the first snowfall, all the flowers blooming in the spring and the leaves changing in the fall. South Carolina hardly has seasons.

And football, of course. Oh how I miss being surrounded by thousands of Ohio State fans every Saturday during the fall. Living in SEC country is rough, y’all.

*****

Lauren, thank you so much for participating and being so genuine in sharing your story. I enjoyed getting to know you a bit better and am even more thankful now that our paths have crossed again!

Cheers!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Chandra

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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When I originally asked Chandra to be featured, she hesitated, worrying that she didn’t have something fabulous to share. I am so glad that she did though because her story of struggles and hard work finally starting to pay off are the type I want to share. This is a crazy time in our lives and a lot is left to chance and the unknown. I just hope that other young professionals read her story and feel encouraged.

But let’s not jump the gun. This is Chandra. We went to high school together and were friends through FFA. And really, if we are being honest, “friends” was probably a conditional term because we spent most of our time competing against each other, unless we were on the same team, and even then we were probably still trying to best each other. Looking back though, I do have some really fun FFA memories with her and it makes me laugh because I really think that much about our personalities were really similar. Chandra was smart,  creative, witty and very passionate about her interests, and as she’ll tell you below, always had a good sense of who she was. There is not a doubt in my mind that those qualities have evolved and made her into a strong young professional. I have been following Chandra’s story through Facebook over the years and admire the risks she’s taken and the determination she’s had toward pursuing her dream.

– Amanda

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Basics
Name:
Chandra Magnuson
Age: 23
Hometown: Hermiston, Oregon
College: Oregon State University
Degree(s): Bachelors of Science, Merchandise Management
Current Location: Brooklyn, New York
Current Job: OMEN PR, Showroom Manager

Background Story: I was born and raised in Hermiston, OR which speaks volumes for itself. I’m the oldest of two with my sister Morgan being 4 years younger than me. From a young age my parents instilled a certain sense of “self” into me and a competitive spirit. My father especially always pushed me to go the extra mile no matter what I was doing. I remember he would make me listen to the “Patton Speech,” before big events, so that gives you a glimpse of how much I hated letting people down. I was always very busy growing up which is something I miss now! From about 7 years old I played soccer, danced, showed horses, held a basketball and baseball bat on occasion and leapt into the 4-H program headfirst once I was old enough. I always felt a little out of place in high school, while I had friends in many different “cliques” I never exactly fit in with just one so I often felt out of place. I immersed myself in sports and school activities. I took soccer very seriously and was offended by people on my team who didn’t take it as seriously as I did. I tried to be an over achiever in FFA participating in just about every public speaking event, showing horses, pigs, steers and sheep. I developed a deep passion for public speaking once entering 4-H and I was further groomed in public speaking when I got into FFA and I served as the student council Activities Coordinator for two years. In high school I never would’ve guessed that my love of planning events and speaking would come full circle and I would later find myself working in fashion public relations in New York City.

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
While I applied to other colleges based off of how prestigious their horseback riding programs were I think there was never a doubt that I wouldn’t be going to Oregon State. I entered my freshman year as a General Agriculture major thinking I would graduate in 5 years ready to be an Ag teacher somewhere in Oregon. Little did I know halfway into my freshman year I would fall into a deep depression that left me feeling lethargic and wondering what I was doing with my life. While I loved the agriculture programs and opportunities I grew up with I knew I needed a change. I met a friend in a writing class that winter that introduced me to Oregon State’s School of Design and Human Environment that along with an apparel design program also had a Merchandise Management program. I had always had a love of fashion, running a small blog not worth mentioning, a love of vintage clothing and its history and in interest in the “behind the scenes” of the industry, so I felt very at home with my major switch.

Standing in front of the old Conde Nast location before it went to 1 World Trade.

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations?
There aren’t nearly as many opportunities in the Merchandising program as there are in the apparel program at Oregon State. So during summer term my sophomore year in a Styling class we took matters into our own hands. Our teacher had our small class of 8 create Oregon State’s first Fashion and Lifestyle Publication, DAMchic, a project we are still very proud of today. I served briefly as the first Fashion Director than as the Women’s Fashion Editor and finally the Business Director. One of the biggest takeaways personally from the class were the industry tours we did that summer in Portland. After visiting a small production/event planning house in Portland coupled with the fact that I had recently started watching Kell on Earth from Bravo (I have since met and worked for Kelly Cutrone and I absolutely don’t recommend it. If you are wondering if she is as mean in person as she is on America’s Next Top Model, the answer is yes) I was hooked on the idea of working Public Relations and going to Fashion Week in New York.

What internships were you involved in?
It can be very, very hard getting an internship in New York when you live in Oregon. My school had a decent internship program that would assist you in finding an internship, but, for the most part it was up to you. I applied to probably 50+ internships the fall before the summer of 2013. I finally got hired by Marc Fisher Footwear as a public relations/marketing intern. While I was in New York I figured I would probably never get another opportunity to come back to New York and I was determined to get to experience fashion week. So I scoured the internet and a website called Freefashioninternships.com until I came across an internship that would take me. I spent the month following fashion week working with the PR team at Yigal Azrouel on his Spring 2014 show. It was a really amazing experience and both of my first internships hold a very special place in my heart. When I moved back to New York in September of 2014 I took an internship at BPCM, which is a very large agency and a lot faster paced than what I was use to at my prior internships.

One of my DAMchic Shoots I styled and directed.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college?
I truly feel like my biggest challenge was finding a place where I fit in. College can be scary at first and I witnessed a lot of my friends fall victim to the same things I experienced at first. You may be depressed because you’re away from home for the first time, you have to make new friends – or maybe you’re growing apart from the friends you went to college with from your hometown. You start questioning if the major you choose is really what you want to do for the rest of your life and you wonder what it would be like to do a complete 180 with your life. One I found a core group of friends who I could depend on, found an organization I could get passionate about and actually be able to envision what my future could be like, I felt a lot more comfortable and ultimately happier.

Do you have any regrets in college, or anything you would change if you had the chance?
If I could do it all over again I would’ve joined more clubs. Maybe club soccer or speech and debate. Anything that I could’ve done to make myself a bit more diverse, I’ve found not all interviewers after college care about what you did in college but, there are those few that actually want to hear about the things that get you excited and what you’re passionate about.

Post Grad

How have your experiences and involvement in college impacted your career and life post grad?
My styling class directly affected my career choices. While in high school I did not even know what public relations was! I’m pretty sure my parents and friends still don’t understand what I do and what I want to achieve. Internships in the fashion industry are an absolute must and if I hadn’t had them I would’ve probably of even been invited in for an interview.

What are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced moving from college to post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
I wasn’t prepared to spend so long unemployed. Despite having the degree, despite having the internships, despite being what I would consider an easily adaptable-get a long with nearly everyone type, it took me a solid year to finally find a full-time position. I thought I found my “home” a couple times in jobs only to find that opportunities aren’t always what they seem. I would estimate that I’ve probably worked 10+ jobs over the past year. I temped in administration/special events for companies such as One Kings Lane, Calvin Klein, One Jeanswear Group and Dior. I held freelance fashion positions with Lanvin, was a Public Relations assistant at People’s Revolution, and was the Internal Events Planner and Receptionist at Rent The Runway. After my department was let go at Rent The Runway all I wanted to do was come home. I live with my boyfriend and at that point I was begging him to move back with me. I was ready to throw in the towel, New York clearly was not loving me and I wasn’t loving her anymore. Thankfully after my department got let go at this point I have some pretty good relationships with a handful of recruiters and I was able to get immediately placed into jobs. I spent a couple months at Ideel working logistics before we were told the company was going under. JUST MY LUCK.

Fashionable feet in New york_

However, a silver lining came with this. While at Ideel I had been applying to jobs like crazy and had two very good opportunities to choose between. I could go to Krupp Group as an Executive Assistant or I could go to OMEN PR as a Showroom Manager – a position that isn’t entirely glamorous or well-paid but would allow for me to be in an environment where I would at least be immersed in PR and be apart of the day-to-day functions of a fashion showroom. So I took the position at OMEN PR and I am hoping to be here for quite awhile.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
Is coffee an app? Cause it keeps me in the right mindset to stay organized! Google Docs is my life, this questionnaire is the first time I have opened up Microsoft Word in a long time! We use a website called Apprello to track our samples in and out of the showroom, find out which magazine or stylists has what and when it is coming back to us. I use Instagram and Twitter a lot to make lists of influencers, track press hits and just stay up to date on what is going on. I like to start my day looking at Refinery29.com, Fashionista.com, Fashionweekdaily.com, and of course Vogue.com.

How do you stay motivated?
I have no family in New York, which has been very hard on me. My boyfriend and I got our first place together this October and he is pretty much my rock. He fully supports my dreams and ambitions and I don’t know what I would do without him and the family I have back home in Oregon. I have been so close to throwing in the towel a handful of times but, I pull motivation the most from my competitive past. Also, my boyfriend got us a kitten in June. Having a fur child around has helped me to stay positive enormously. His name is Jon Snow and despite popular belief he actually knows quite a bit. All in all, I’m not ready to give up just yet.

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Jon Snow.

*****

Chandra, thank you so much for being a guest on this series and taking the time to participate — especially since I took a holiday blog hiatus and your questionnaire sat in my inbox for two weeks! I wish you all of the best in New York and am excited to see where your career takes you!

As always, thanks for reading friends!

Cheers.

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Kylie

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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This week I would like to introduce you to Kylie, one of my new friends here in D.C. I’m laughing as I write this because just this past weekend at a holiday party one of her friends asked me, “how did you meet Kylie?” My response? “Online.” I never would have thought that the writing I do to scrapbook my life over here in my little corner of the internet would ever lead me to making a friend in real life. But early this past summer we both linked our blogs to a bigger blogger that we both follow, which led her to find mine and leave a comment. We started reading each others posts and soon learned that she had recently moved to an apartment just about a mile away from mine. The first time we hung out we kept joking that it was equivalent to the awkwardness of a blind first date. As you will read below, life here in the DC area is typically pretty busy, so we are still “becoming friends,” but I am already so thankful to have met Kylie. She is passionate about her job as a rookie 2nd grade teacher, and is humble and honest about the ups and downs of balancing it all. She has a great sense of humor and adventure, and is so easy to relate to (except for her obsession with candy corn…)

-Amanda

Kylie Insta
This is Kylie’s school picture for this year… I feel like getting to take school pictures as an adult redeems one from years of awkward braces and horrible trends growing up!

Basics
Name: Kylie McGraw
Age: 24
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
College: Duquesne University & University of Maryland, College Park
Degree(s): B.S. Early Level Education (Duquesne), Master’s of Education in Reading (UMD)
Current Location: Arlington, VA
Current Job: 2nd Grade Teacher

Background Story: I’m the oldest of three and I love my brothers to pieces. My mom’s family all lives really close together, so I grew up knowing the family is really important. I went to school where my mom was a teacher, so I spent a lot of time in her classroom. I don’t remember deciding that I was going to be a teacher, but I told everyone who asked that I was going to be a teacher when I grew up. Hailing from The Steel City, I do in fact bleed black and gold. I like french fries on my salads, ketchup with most everything I eat, and a cookie table at every major event I attend. Pittsburgh has really grown and changed since it gained its name as The Steel City, and I really got to know it better when I went to college! I’m a self-proclaimed candy corn addict and crazy dog lady…even though Colby and Amigo live with my family in Pittsburgh. I love coffee, the dessert menu, running long distances, and laying on the beach.

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With my brothers.

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
I never really chose my major. As I mentioned, I decided at a young age that I was going to be a teacher and that is the dream I chased for my whole life. My mom has been teaching kindergarten for 27 years so I had a great role model!

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I had two jobs that I loved! I taught Spinning classes at the gym and worked as a tutor in The Writing Center. Last year when I was a full-time grad student, I continued both of those jobs at my new university, but I was also a research assistant. I like to keep busy!

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
Every so often, there would be some roommate drama. Living with good friends can be harder than you think! I am the kind of person who doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so instead of addressing issues that would come up, I would just ignore them. Senior year, I ended up not talking to one of my roommates (the one I actually shared a room with) for almost four months. We said “hello”, “how was your day”, and “bye”, but that was about it. I wish I hadn’t worried so much about hurting her feelings and just said, “Hey! How can we fix this?” Eventually I addressed all the problems that arose, but not without a long awkward period in between the incident and the talk.

I also struggled with my health and body image. College is the first time when you are really in control of what you eat and how much you work out, and I was a statistic. I went to college and gained weight. I only gained about 9 pounds, but I felt puffy and bloated and I wasn’t happy with how I looked at all. I started to change my eating and exercise habits healthfully, but then I got really extreme and struggled with a little bit of orthorexia, which is an obsession with eating foods that you consider healthy. I only ate certain foods, I counted every calorie that went inside my body, and I worked out more than once a day. Most people were telling me that I looked great, but it wasn’t until a few friends said something not so nice about me behind my back that I realized I was doing something wrong. I never sought professional help for these issues because since I recognized them in myself, I felt that I could fix them, with the support of my family and friends. My mom and my best friend at the time were my go-to people if I ever needed someone to remind me that I did NOT in fact need to work out again or I was actually “allowed” to eat the piece of bread on the table.

I wouldn’t change either of these experiences because they made me more confident and healthy post grad.

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
I would tell a senior in college to take advantage of all the events that their campus has to offer. You and your friends DO need to go to a football game, eat the special Thanksgiving dinner in the dining hall, and go to the Christmas Ball. All of the things that you may have skipped in previous years — get your friends and go do them. On the other hand, it’s just as acceptable to stay in and watch movies because your stress levels will probably rise as you finish up your final classes and start thinking about the real world. Remember that there is a whole summer after graduation, so if you get your diploma and you still feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, it’s okay. Make decisions about grad school or your first job, but take a breath. I realized that in the real world, no one really knows what they’re doing…but as long as you put your best foot forward, you’ll go places. 🙂

Kylie 1
Colby (bottom) and Amigo (top)

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?

My plan for grad school was to go to UMD for 2 years to get my Master’s in Reading and then move back home to Pittsburgh. Once I moved to this area, I loved it and couldn’t imagine leaving so soon. I was a person who said they would never do their first year of teaching while they were still in grad school because both are such huge time commitments and I wanted to make sure they were both getting my “all”. Since I took most of the classes for my Master’s last year, by the end of the spring semester, I felt like I would be able to manage my first year of teaching and taking one night class. I interviewed at a few different elementary schools in Virginia in June and finally found the right school for me. I was offered a second grade teaching position at the end of my interview! My coworkers are so supportive as I figure out what it means to finally be in charge of my own class. I expected some of the challenges I have faced so far, but sometimes I really have to go back and kind of reteach something, especially when it comes to classroom routines. This is not something that I anticipated and I feel really guilty when I have to make time to do something like that. But, my coworkers always remind me that it is vital and that they still have to do that sometimes too. My students are only 7 years old so behavior is a learning experience each and every day! I really do have a great class so I feel very lucky in my first year of teaching. 🙂

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
When I was choosing colleges, I didn’t look very far away from home. However, it was really important to me to go to a school that would let me be in elementary classrooms all throughout my program. Years ago, education students would take college classes for 3.5 years and then step into a classroom for the first time during student teaching. That was a shock for some who ended up realizing they weren’t where they wanted to be. At Duquesne, I was in a variety of different kinds of schools every semester of college leading up to student teaching. Some of my friends even switched majors (think elementary to middle school) after our first field experience! I think going to all of the different schools let me figure out what kind of school and what age I wanted to work with. Since my mom teaches kindergarten, I always thought I wanted to do that, but I had a lot of experience with second graders during undergrad and now that I am actually teaching second grade, I can’t imagine being in a younger grade (at least right now)! I was also involved in an several organizations in the School of Education that worked to support families in the community. Volunteering with families at places like the Ronald McDonald House opened my eyes to what a student’s life could be like outside of school.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
I didn’t expect to still feel so stressed about money. In college, you know your funds are going to be a little limited. Apparently, I had this great vision that once I finally had a “real job”, I would exhale and feel totally calm about money and buy whatever I wanted without feeling guilty. Ha! Not so. Currently, I am living within my means, but I always wonder if I can be saving more, donating more, and so on.

As far as my job goes, I didn’t expect to second guess myself so much. In each of my field experiences and in student teaching, I always felt confident in the choices I was making, but that’s probably because I had a lot of guidance. My coworkers and I plan as a team, but I still have a lot of my own choices to make in my classroom. It’s hard for me to understand that I can plan the world’s best lesson and it’s possible that it might not reach all of my students for one reason or another. I can ask thoughtful questions, assign engaging projects, and still reach the end of the lesson and see that some of my students don’t “get it”. Even though there are many reasons why a student might not get it (academic, social, emotional, etc.), I take it personally and wonder what I did wrong. I try to channel those negative thoughts into positive ones, as I am always asking myself what I can do better tomorrow, but it’s still a tough pill to swallow!

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What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
I don’t know that these resources will be of any interest to the regular person, but they make sense for teachers! My teammates and I use an online planbook to write and share resources for lesson plans. I like being able to have everything in one place because if I wrote my lesson plans with pen on paper, I would probably have half my resources printed out and another half in an electronic format on my laptop! With our online planbook, I can log right in, see what I have written for that day or week, and print everything I need from one place. We also use Microsoft OneNote to plan future units and share student data. My students use TumbleBooks and PebbleGo to listen and read stories electronically. They also use Dreambox to practice their math skills in an electronic format. Dreambox is awesome because it teaches them in a game-like format and they are taught based on their current level of learning. So, for example, if they advance to the next math concept and they get a certain number of questions or problems wrong, the game automatically bumps them back a lesson to reteach the concept they are struggling with.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
I am a team player but I also appreciate a little bit of independence. Being a teacher gives me a lot of independence in deciding how I want to teach a certain lesson, but I definitely don’t isolate myself from my coworkers. The other second grade teachers and the reading specialist have been such a huge support system for me as I get all of my ideas in order during this first year. Because of that, I try to share my ideas with them when I can! I want them to see me as a team player, too. On the other hand, I’m a worrier and I want to do everything right. I ask a lot of questions (which is a good thing), but sometimes my questions are more along the lines of, “Is it okay that I did/said ________?” I want to work on having more confidence in my decisions!

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
I try to have conversations with my students that aren’t about school. They bring so many random trinkets to school and they always have a story to tell, so if I make sure to find an extra few minutes for them to share something either with me or with the class so that we can all relax. And because I am still taking a night class this year, sometimes a motivating thought is, “Life won’t be like this forever.” Regardless of what your life is like, you don’t want to wish time away, but sometimes the thought that things WILL change is a positive one.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
I love to work out. I love to Spin, I love to attempt to lift weights in the fitness studio in my apartment, I love to try new classes at the gym, and I especially love to run. There are plenty of people that I know who ask me how I have time to work out while working full time, being in grad school, and trying to maintain a social life, but the saying is true: I don’t have time, I make time. I don’t get home from work and immediately feel like changing into my gym clothes, but I do. Deciding to do your workout is the hardest part. While you are running or biking or lifting, your mind is cleared of all the stress from the day. Then when you have completed the workout, you feel accomplished and oh so proud. It also helps that my principal supports a work-life balance. She encourages us to have other hobbies and interests outside of our classrooms, which is wonderful!

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
I’m most proud of the fact that I moved away from home and created a life for myself that I love. I never thought I would be a person who moved away from her family, for whatever amount of time it may be, but here I am. And no one tells you the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with moving away from everyone and everything you know. All you hear about is the excitement of that new place! At first, you won’t have friends. You will have to go places by yourself. You will feel like everyone at home is having so much fun and you’re “stuck” in this new place alone. And then pretty soon, you learn how to put yourself out there and make some friends and life starts to feel pretty great.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?.
I am passionate about Jesus, my family, fitness, healthy eating, reading, and writing. Monday through Friday, I am very focused on my job and my workouts, but I try to work out with friends to make it even more fun. 🙂 Come the weekend, I am oh so tired, but I try to get out at least once a weekend to do something new and/or fun! I still consider myself new to the area and there is so much to see and do. I’ve made new friends at running groups that I attend and I’ve made new friends at church, so it’s important to me to make time to see those people!

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Running group friends.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
I intentionally set my alarm a bit early so I don’t have to pop out of bed when it rings in the morning. I like to lay around for a few minutes and read one of my devotionals. I have my Bible, Jesus Calling, my journal, and whichever faith-based book I am reading at the time on my nightstand, so I pick one of those and read for a few minutes before I get up. Right now, I am reading my pastor’s (Mark Batterson) new book called “If”. Once I am up and moving, I turn the TV on in the family room so I can listen to Good Morning America while I get ready! And typically, I am at work about an hour early. I eat breakfast at my desk and just get my mind right for the day (and usually get 107 things together before the students show up).

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
I just have to have some kind of beverage! I drink water on the way to work, I sip on my coffee all morning, and then I keep refilling my water bottle all day. Sometimes a little Peach Tea Crystal Light in my water or an extra cup of coffee in the afternoon happens, but I like to think I am pretty low-maintenance (and not caffeine dependent!) when it comes to beverages. 🙂

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
I would want to be a magazine or newspaper editor in New York City. In this life, I will write in some capacity for my career one day. I’m working on that now. 🙂 In college, I started writing my blog so that I could share my new adventures in running and healthy eating. The perfectionist in me wants to have a great post every day, so my blog has ebbed and flowed since it began in 2013. 2015 is actually the first year I have blogged consistently, and I am so happy to be writing more and connecting with the blogging community. You can find keep up with all of my adventures here HERE.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
I am pretty introverted and I love hanging out by myself, but honestly how nice was it to have all of your friends either in your room or right next door?! There was always something to do!

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Kylie, thank you so much for being a guest on this series and being so genuine. I am so glad that these little blogs of ours brought us together!

As always, thanks for reading friends!

Cheers.

Linking up this Monday with these bloggers:

 MingleMondayBIG

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The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Michael

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This new series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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Everyone, meet Michael. Featuring someone in grad school has been on my list of priorities for this series from the beginning and Michael is a great example of someone who spent a little bit of time in the industry after his undergrad, before returning to academia for grad school. I also want to make sure that he gets a proper shout out… generally student schedules are a bit more hectic and all over place, especially near the end of a semester. Well this kid still went ahead and returned his questionnaire back to me well-before the deadline. That’s impressive! Anyway, Michael is one of my fellow AFA Student Advisory Team alums. A few years younger than me, I first remember meeting Michael in Track 2 at AFA Leaders Conference when I was on the team and leading that track. Since then, I’ve always been able to count on him for a witty tweet and a good laugh. I think Michael is a great (and somewhat rare) example of someone who pursued a degree in production agriculture, without really having a true background it. His passion and curiosity is genuine an contagious. Plus, he’s just an all-around fun,  great guy to be around.
– Amanda

The RoadI Traveled- Michael


Basics
Name: Michael Carlson
Age: 23
Hometown: Johnston, IA
College: South Dakota State University
Degree(s): Bachelors of Science in Agriculture: Agronomy
Current Location: Brookings, SD
Current Job: Graduate Research Assistant

College:

How did you choose your college and your major?

Having grown up in Des Moines, I didn’t even know until my senior year of high school that SDSU existed. I grew up right next to Dupont Pioneer’s corporate headquarters, so I had quite a few neighbors and family friends involved in agronomy and plant sciences. I didn’t really know what all was involved, but thinking that it might be interesting I decided that I should major in agronomy and figure it out as I go! That narrowed down my choice of schools to primarily land grant institutions. I really enjoyed my visit to SDSU, but what sealed the deal was going to a program called “A Day in the Life,” which was put on by the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences. This program allowed me to interact with professors, sit in on a class and network with agriculture students. After that visit I was counting down the days until I could head up north!

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?

I was heavily involved in the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences Ambassadors, where we went out to schools in South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska to talk about why students should study agriculture and why they should consider attending SDSU for their post-secondary career. I was also involved with the Agronomy and Conservation Club, serving as the club president for a year. I was also able to serve as the Honors College Student Organization Secretary for a year, along with being a mentor as a Teaching Assistant for the Honors 100 class. The last organization that I was involved with was Agriculture Future of America where I served on the Student Advisory Team in 2013. I had an internship every summer between semesters. After my freshman year I worked as a crop scout in SE South Dakota. The following summer I worked as a field research intern for Dow AgroSciences in South Dakota, and during my last summer as a college student I was the seed treatment intern for Winfield, a Land O’Lakes company.

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With 4 of my closest friends, and past Student Advisory Team members at the AFA Alliance Forum

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?

Time management was by far my biggest obstacle! Getting to know and understand how to manage time between classes, work, social life and different activities. Another obstacle I personally had was my very limited knowledge of production agriculture, but I soon found that all I had to do was ask and someone would willingly answer my questions! Personally I think the only thing that I would have changed were maybe to have taken another year of college to finish out some different minors or an undergraduate research project.

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?

As cliche as this sounds I would say to enjoy all of the experiences from your last year of college. And when looking for a career, don’t worry about if it doesn’t work out like you think it is supposed to, as life likes to take different twists and turns, most of which you never see coming.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?

After I graduated from SDSU I started as a sales trainee for Dow AgroSciences in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I was able to learn about the sales process and to begin to call on customers for different reps while working on different projects. I then made the jump back to graduate school this past April to work on an organic weed control system.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?

Working in the corporate world has definitely given me another view which I think has helped me succeed now that I am back in graduate school. The idea of bringing added value to tasks performed isn’t emphasized as heavily in graduate school as it is in the world of sales but the idea of bringing more to the table than what is expected is still a big deal.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?

The biggest challenges that I have would be getting used to different managers. I’ve found that it’s best to ask more questions than you think you should because it’s better to ask to much than come back at the end of the year and not have done enough.

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My mother and I at our first Green Bay Packers game back in October!

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?

I use my MacBook Pro every day, but the calendar is my biggest life saver! Putting down any appointments, classes or due dates definitely helps keep my cluttered brain back in order!

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?

I would say my biggest strength would be drive and a strong sense of responsibility. I would say a weakness would be sometimes jumping the gun on things without asking all the questions I should.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?

I take a lot of breaks! I don’t worry about whether or not I will get the project done in a timely manner as I tend to not put tasks off to the last second. Sometimes this means I may work wild hours, especially with my field work I have to do the work when Mother Nature allows me to.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?

In grad school it sometimes seems as if there is not much of a balance, but as I found from working in the “real” world it’s all up to yourself for creating that balance. I have a good group of friends here in town which helps me to detach from the constant questions I have about my project.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?

I am most proud about making the jump back to graduate school. It was a nerve wracking decision but I am glad that I chose to continue my education and contribute to new ideas and information.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?.

Life looks hectic! Running my samples and finishing up my classes this semester are taking a lot of my time lately! But I make time to go out with friends and read a few books when I’m not reading some scholarly articles!

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Me and my close friend Whitney touring hiking around Spearfish canyon in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Just For Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?

Coffee! And looking over a simple plan of what I have in store for the day! As this has been important when trying to get my field or lab work complete when everything is a rush!

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?

Definitely caffeine — coffee makes my world go round. Also, my music. When doing doing lab work, field work or office work,  it seems about impossible without excellent music to get me motivated.

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?

I would be a ski bum! Just relaxing on the slopes living in the mountains sounds like the perfect life to me!

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Me on top of Lone Peak at the Big Sky Ski Resort in Montana.  Turns out I still have work to do on my technique to ski from an alpine like peak!

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?

As a graduate student, I miss not having to worry about my project and any lab work that is looming over my head at all times! Haha!

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Michael, thank you so much for taking some time out your hectic schedule to participate and share a peek into life in grad school. Good luck on your research and projects!

As always, thanks for reading friends!

Cheers.

Linking up on this Monday with these bloggers.

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