six things I learned at #herconference

If you follow me on twitter (hint hint) you may or may not have noticed that I’ve been at the Her Campus Intercollegiette Conference this weekend, both as an intern (helping sell t-shirts, stuffing gift bags, etc) and an attendee (going to wicked awesome panels and talking to everybody). Sorry that I’m so good at social media, I guess.

Really though, this year’s Her Campus conference was incredible, and I learned so much from so many people. If you weren’t there, here’s a short list of my takeaways.

1. Networking is fun!

I used to hate networking, because I’m socially awkward and weird. And I still probably hate networking in most contexts. But networking with other college girls who are interested in the same kinds of stuff that I am is really fun. It’s basically just making friends with people who are already predisposed to want to be your friend.

Plus, networking with the people Her Campus brought in to inspire us is totally incredible. Who knew talking to people older and cooler and more successful than you would be so rewarding?

2. People who are older and cooler and more successful than you disagree with each other about things.

We got a lot of advice from different people this weekend, and a lot of it contradicted itself. Get as many internships as you can! The unpaid internship system is broken and classist! Work harder in school! Work less hard in school! Print media is dying! Long live print media! Write for free whenever you can! Don’t write for free unless you absolutely have to! Only do what you’re passionate about, but do our bitch work with a smile on your face and joy in your heart! It will all work out! It won’t work out unless you literally never sleep in relentless pursuit of your dreams!

The moral of that story is to trust yourself. Believe what you want to believe, because these people with all these crazy conflicting views all ended up successful anyway. That’s not to say that you’ll definitely be successful no matter what you do (because that doesn’t even make sense), but you won’t not-be-successful because you disagreed with an adult about something.

3. Do what you love & do something that matters.

That actually isn’t a contradiction. Here’s what I’m beginning to figure out: If you love something, there’s a reason that you love it, and if you can figure out that reason, you can figure out why it matters. No one loves sitting in their living room watching television. People are wired in such a way that they want to make an impact. Go with it.

4. Bitch work is everywhere, and there’s no avoiding it.

Do what you love, but know that doing what you love might involve tying together $300 worth of pink ribbons (#truestory #internlife). This weekend, the Her Campus founders (who are incredible, by the way) were standing right there with us unwrapping bags of hair products and candy and stuffing them into several hundred thin canvas bags. These are the women at the top of the Her Campus food chain, but we have a small staff and they knew the job would get done faster if everyone helped. They weren’t too good for any of it. And if the President/CEO/Managing Editor/etc of a company isn’t too good for bitch work, you aren’t either.

It also helps that Her Campus is their baby. If you’re passionate about something in the big picture, doing little-picture bitch work isn’t so bad.

5. Brands are obsessed with millennials.

Y’all, we are taking over the world. Get ready. It’s happening faster than you think. Brands are obsessed with us right now because they know that if they win our loyalty now, they will be rolling in money in 10 years. Now’s the time that we can negotiate with them, manipulate them, seduce them with our idealistic narcissistic bullshit and make them accomodate us.

We don’t need to be trying to impress them. They’re trying to impress us. It’s like they’re applying for the job of our-favorite-brand. We should be leveraging this. Let’s figure out how.

6. Do you.

Isn’t that always what it boils down to?

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