The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Brian

“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 love that living in DC has brought such a wide variety of people into my life. One of those people is Brian, who I met through a young adult’s small group at church. As he elaborates below, Brian has a really unique sense of optimism and an attitude toward life that is really refreshing.  He is an avid traveler/adventurer, a genuinely fun person to be around and maybe its because he’s a fellow writer, but I’ve always noticed and appreciated how intentional he is in his conversations with others. With all that and what I knew of his journey post-college so far, I was really looking forward to reading Brian’s answers to my questions and now I am equally excited to share his story with you.  As his friend, I also really enjoy living vicariously through his Snapchat as he chases Congressmen around the Capitol on the daily.

-Amanda 

Basics

Name: Brian Cheung
Age: 24
Hometown: Rockaway, NJ
College: Syracuse University
Degree(s): Broadcast & Digital Journalism, Finance
Current Location: Washington, DC area
Current Job: Financial Journalist

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
When I was a kid, I went to a birthday party at a venue called “Imagination Station.” It was basically a big play place where you could pretend to be in different jobs (farmer, firefighter, chef). One of those booths had a make shift broadcast news set, which I ended up loving. That’s how I knew I wanted to be a journalist.

Syracuse was one of my top schools because of its journalism program. I applied, got a scholarship, and headed up to the winter tundra for four years of journalism school, where I also picked up another degree in finance.

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I was in a fraternity, hosted some news programs on our on-campus news station, started a community service organization with some friends called Circle K (collegiate version of Kiwanis), was part of the Cru Christian fellowship, lead campus tours, and wrote for the college newspaper.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
As you can see from the answer above it was mostly time management. By senior year I was pretty spent.

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Don’t feel bad to ease up on some of your extracurricular obligations if it means spending more time to develop relationships with your professors and your friends. Some of the best people I’ve ever met were people I crossed paths with during college. With the uncertainty of where people move post grad, it’s important to cherish the time you have on campus with those people.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
After I graduated, I moved to Arlington, Va. to start a job as an analyst at the Federal Reserve. One year in, I decided I wanted to go back into journalism and accepted an opportunity to become a reporter covering banking at S&P Global Market Intelligence, an industry news organization.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
The best lessons from college came outside of the lecture halls. Through class projects, campus activities, and other experiences on campus, I had to learn how to problem solve on the fly and work with people to put together an assignment, organize a fundraiser, or broadcast a news segment. Strong communication skills, critical thinking, and leadership qualities are all intangible things that can boost your professional stock in basically any career.

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 mundane but necessary functions of being an adult: feeding yourself, not forgetting to pay your bills and/or rent, and filing taxes.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
I put a lot of things on the digital calendar (Outlook, iCal).

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
My strength is my unwavering optimism. It takes a lot to break me, and I’d like to think that I can overcome any challenge I face.

My weakness is probably taking on so many challenges that I end up breaking.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
I like to remind myself that not only is there a purpose for doing all of these things – there’s a reason for why I’m the one doing them.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
I don’t think much about work-life so much as I think about the fitness of mind-body-soul. Work and school keep the mind sharp, exercise keeps the body fit and church keeps the soul filled.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
I’m proud that I’ve managed to juggle full-time work and part-time school (pursuing an M.S. in Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University) without forgetting to feed myself.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
During the weekdays, life is basically the following: sleep, work, study, exercise. They don’t always need to follow that order but I try to touch all four of those activities in a given day.

On the weekends, I really enjoy being outside: basketball, running, hiking. As someone who gets cabin fever very easily, I love to get out of the apartment and explore new places, which is easy to do in the sprawling D.C. metro area. My favorite thing to do: pick a new neighborhood I haven’t been to, hide in a local coffee shop or restaurant and study.

What path are you looking to take next? Any long-term goals?
Stay tuned!

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
A few days a week I’ll go to the gym or run before I head to work. For me that’s a great way to get your mind and body in full working mode by 9am.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
I jokingly describe myself as a “social coffee drinker” because I never really drank coffee before I started working. But as a journalist I’m always meeting with people over coffee, so I’ve been drinking coffee a lot as of late (particularly the Dunkin Donuts coffee in the Longworth House Office Building).

…but normally I drink green tea. Another must-have vice: a snack for 10am (can rarely make it between breakfast and lunch without getting hungry).

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
No limitations aside, I would be a travel journalist with a television show. My favorite things are travel and food, so naturally I would want to do exactly what Anthony Bourdain does.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
I miss the Syracuse basketball games at the Carrier Dome where I often lost my voice. I miss the late night munchies along Marshall Street and I really miss singing along to Americana jams at the college bar, Chucks. But most of all, I miss the people I used to do all those things with.

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Brian, thank you for taking the time out of your busy career and student double life to be a guest on this series!

Cheers!

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 15

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my glam #postgradlife. See past posts HERE}

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1. Hokie Country

Man, I am tired.
I was planning on getting this “So There’s That” out LAST Friday before my weekend started, but here I am on the following Thursday and struggling to wrap it up.
This past weekend I road tripped down to Blacksburg, VA, home to Virginia Tech, to visit my good friend Chelsea.
Chelsea and I lived together at Smurthwaite Scholarship House for two years at K-State and she was my “big sis” in the house. I have always felt so lucky because while some big and little sis pairs do not really connect, mine has turned into a life long friend. Chelsea is a PhD student and invited me and Katie, another K-State friend who lives in Baltimore, to come down for the spring football game. It was a FULL weekend, complete with girl talk, tailgating, complaining about undergrads, crab ragoons, watching an entire season of Archer and a REALLY bad sunburn for me.

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Me and Chelsea 🙂
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Katie, Chelsea and me.

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Solid start to a fun day!

2. Proud Big Sister

Note to self, wathcing live golf scoring on a computer is almost just as nerve wracking as watching a live, fast-paced sport.

Last week my sister, a senior playing golf for the Lewis-Clark State Warriors, played in the Frontier Conference Championship. Although her team did win the regular season championship, they still had to win the tournament in order to go to nationals in Georgia (which I would to traveled to). Unfortunately they came up a little short and placed second. But I am still so proud of Janci. She attacked this season with hard work, commitment and a good attitude. I know she was pretty sad to have played her last tourney as a student-athlete, but I know she is so thankful that she pushed herself to that level.

And she didn’t lose by any means. She was an 2nd Team All-Conference player, a Academic All-Conference student-athlete and at the tournament she was recognized with the Champion of Character Award for the season.

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My family cheering her on in Arizona. Really wish I could have been there.

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3. Welcome to the World Robin Michelle!

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One of my best friends and freshman roommate, Leah finally welcomed her little beautiful little girl into the world on April 4! I am so excited for her and Ryan, and can not wait to hold her when I visit Kansas at the end of May!

4. #WorkLife

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I am always so excited and a bit relieved when I project that I put a lot of thought and hard work into turns out how I envisioned it. Two of the overseas offices for the organization that I work for are celebrating 50 and 50 years this year and these two commemorative programs were used at the celebrations that took place earlier this month.

5. Lip Sync Battle with Melissa McCarthy

In my next life, Melissa and I are going to be BEST FRIENDS.
I have been a super fan since her early days on my all-time favorite show Gilmore Girls and it has been fun to see her career take off. Her recent Lip Sync Battle with Jimmy Fallon officially replaces this one with Joseph Gordon Levitt as my FAVORITE.

6. Gilmore Girls Retro Poster

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Speaking of Gilmore Girls, I am REALLY trying to convince myself that I do NOT need to buy this retro fan art for my new apartment. I am trying to downsize and simplify… but the jury is still out on this and the other two posters I stumbled upon on Etsy.

7. Bye Marilyn

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Sometimes you just have to let go.
When I was maybe 15 or 16 my Aunt Michelle was recorating her living room and let me have this huge canvas of Marilyn Monroe. For whatever reason I always loved this picture, and so it hung in my room through high school and once I moved out of the scholarship house at K-State, Marilyn made her way across the country to become a part of our random college decor. My roommates pretty much hated her, saying that she was creepy. But over time she became the best conversation starter and a bit of a roommate joke (hence why we referred to the picture as another person and not an object.) When I moved to DC I did not really have room for her so she went into storage underneath my bed. I am getting ready to move again to a new apartment next month and decided that it was probably time to retire her.

8. Alex’s Snapchat

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This should not be THAT funny.
But it was enough for me to screen shot it and send it to 5 other people.
Someone in grad school has way too much time on their hands…
#easilyamused

9. Disney Princesses Singing in Their Native Languages

Guys, maybe it is just because I grew up on most of these movies, but these videos are seriously really cool! I knew what countries quite a few of them were based in, but others were a bit of a surprise. Ariel in The Little Mermaid is Danish? Who knew!

10. Drink The District

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A couple of weeks ago one of my new DC friends Elissa joined me, my co-worker and his group for a fun afternoon at Drink the District, a beer and wine festival.
Despite the chilly temps in April (love my new beanie!) fun was definitely had.
Lots of fun.

11. Carpool Karaoke

I’ve explained my love for James Corden before…

And now I am officially obsessed with his Carpool Karaoke segments. My favorites include Adele, Sia and both of the Biebs (#noshame). This link below features and ranks each of the guests that have participated so far:

https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/james-corden-carpool-karaoke-clips-ranking?ref=twitter-869

Yo James, when you are ready I have a list of requests for you to consider.

12. Word Love

Quotes that I have saved to my phone lately.

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13. America Survives

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I refuse to talk about the elections on my blog or social media. There are already enough people blabbing on and on about it. But regardless of who you are backing, you have to admit that this is at least a little amusing.

14. 50 Design Terms Explained Simply for Non-Designers

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This is a great resource regardless of your level of expertise in design.
Read HERE.

15. On the Road with Wheat Foods Council

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http://www.ontheroadwithwheatfoods.com/

This is fun way to learn about wheat foods in the United States!

16. Fire Away

Seriously. Though. Put. This. On. Repeat.
Of course I also loved his performance with his wife at the ACM Awards.

17. Prairie Star Tournament Champion

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My office takes the Men’s NCAA March Madness tournament serious and yours truly ran away with the win. Thanks for the loss Michigan State.

18. Perspective

perspective - rainSource: Kansas Wheat

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So, There’s That.

Cheers!

Agriculture, Career/Professional

Just Wing It: Ag Media Summit

Whether I’m working away on a magazine or hanging out with one of my ag comm friends, my roommates usually are a bit overwhelmed when they see in my “natural element.” I don’t think many would argue when I say we pack a lot of motivation, creativity and passion for what we do into just the right amount of crazy. My roommates may have been a bit more overwhelmed than normal though, if they had been with me on my most recent adventure.

Last week, August 4-7, I had the opportunity to travel to Buffalo, New York to attend the 2013 Ag Media Summit.

This annual conference brings together both professionals and college students in the agricultural communications, journalism and marketing fields for meetings, learning sessions, collaboration and a celebration of our industry. As a student at K-State I was never able to attend, so when my job wanted to send me I was all on board! The mix of people, from every corner of the industry, spanning from bright-eyed students to young professionals to respected trailblazers, make for an interesting and high-energy environment. Never before have I been surrounded by that many people that share my passions for both agriculture and communications. It was great to catch up with friends made from AFA and K-State, share “post grad life” joys and woes with other recent graduates and network with folks that will no doubt, be a part of my career for years to come.

After becoming what you could call a “professional conference attendee” throughout high school and college {which all ranked from mediocre to outstanding,} I was very pleased to walk away actually having learned something valuable and feeling energized. I am a huge believer of continued learning and investing in your education beyond a structured classroom. It challenges us to be better, helps us refocus and in all honestly, keeps us working offensively, instead of playing defense. There were many learning sessions to choose from within the six time blocks and my goal was to balance my time between a variety of topics. My favorite session without a doubt was “Writing Deep Dive: Tools of Originality” featuring Kelly McBride from the Poynter Institute. She takes a very aggressive and strategic approach toward knowing herself as a writer and capitalizing on her creativity. It was refreshing to talk through the shared struggles the writers have and how we can infuse more originality into writing that is redundant and overdone. Previously, I was a bit familiar with the research and teaching that the Poynter Institute does and after Kelly’s session, would definitely encourage to check them out online.

My take-away’s from this session:

  • Questions to routinely reflect on: What conditions do I need to be most creative? What have been my most creative moments in life and what outside factors may have influenced that creativity? What works for what I do and what is necessary for my job?
  • Don’t see distractions as negative, see them as preparation. Naturally incorporate them into your routine and don’t feel guilty.
  • Know the difference between the subject and the focus.
  • Every word is on the ladder of abstraction. “Low” is specific. “High” is focus. >Avoid the middle<
  • 6 Tricks of the Trade for Original Ideas {Best advice from the whole session. These really could have been featured in a blog post of their own}
    1. Turn away from the target
    2. Make a list
    3. Do a narrative
    4. Read the signs {literally}
    5. Give our your phone number
    6. Don’t be afraid of your own experience

The other sessions that I attended focused on photography, a public relations overview of John Deere’s {really stinking cool} campaign where they built a life size combine sculpture out of canned food, publishing content across multiple online platforms, and a panel on balancing time management, travel and relationships in your career. Overall, my first AMS was a great experience. I was humbled after many of my entries in the collegiate National Critique and Contest placed very well and proud that so many other K-State entries did fantastic as well. The city of Buffalo was charming and since I didn’t get the chance to visit Niagara Falls, it is definitely on my list to visit again

And if you’ve already took a peek at my pictures below you can see that this group sure knows how to have fun! The welcome party had a Roaring 20’s theme, which anyone who has been following my current obsession with The Great Gatsby, then you know I was just about tickled pink.

Thanks for a great time AMS!