Newhouse’s Master’s Preview Days just passed, which made me think back to my own preview day experience a year ago and how much has changed for me from then to now. Since my program is two years, I’m not quite feeling the stress of graduating as much as I’m trying to get my life together for my summer internship. Still, there are a few thoughts I can share to help others make the most of their time here at Newhouse:
1. Ask early and often about opportunities
Does your program offer benchmark trips, opportunities to go to conferences or other special events throughout the year? Even if the dates aren’t concrete yet, it’s still a good idea to ask because it helps you plan for the year(s) ahead, and think about what opportunities you really want to pursue. When you arrive later for Bootcamp, you can follow up and get more specifics on dates, locations, etc.
2. Don’t be afraid to make connections now
Newhouse folks are ambitious by nature, but we are not all extroverts. That being said, don’t let it stop you from connecting with someone at the preview days or on the Facebook group to help you make this transition. I personally value face-to-face interactions, so during my preview day, I remember asking our PD guide, Janessa, about everything from how to get an internship to where to get my hair braided. Later on when classes started, it was nice to have a familiar face as a reference when I needed something.
3. Free things are your friends
Listen, this is not just a pro-tip to help you survive Bootcamp (the events they host are great by the way, so just go). Film screenings are always happening somewhere on campus, sometimes with refreshments. The same goes for guest lectures — sometimes hosted by other schools like Maxwell — that may provide lunch if it’s during the day. Late Night Gym is a great way to mix up your fitness routine too, but the free weekly yoga class offered right here in Newhouse is something I’ve been committed to since day one. It has made the stressful days soooooo much easier to deal with.
4. Go to events that seem like they have nothing to do with your program
My friend Brooke has a saying that I think applies to this point: “What’s wrong with exposing yourself to something and becoming a more dynamic person?” You have so much to learn from other disciplines in Newhouse, and these events are a great way to learn things you may not in class or internship. For example, I went to a symposium on Syria’s conflicts and crisis last semester that at first glance seemed like it had more to do with photography and design than public diplomacy; however, the symposium was an insightful intersection of ideas and concepts I’d learned in my PD courses and photojournalism that I would’ve missed out on if I just wrote it off as “not being presented or sponsored by my program.”
5. Enjoy success and failure
Both of these things are bound to happen to you at some point, so enjoy them both equally. You’re presentation for one class may have been so flawless you wonder why you’re not a professional already, while an exam in another may have you feeling like you’re not smart enough to be in graduate school. Stay calm, assess where you’ve done well and where you fell short, and move on. This is also where I’d say what those who know me well can quote verbatim at this point: Self-care is the best care. Had a great day? Nailed a presentation? Celebrate. Sources for your next story fell through? Campaign proposal ripped apart by your professor? Shake it off and go celebrate that, too.
I’m not a big fan of long lists, so this is all I’ve got. For those that already came to preview day, I hope you enjoyed it. For those who are coming to Newhouse this summer, maybe I’ll see you around. Take care and welcome to Newhouse!
–Mary Johnson is a graduate student studying public diplomacy