& Since I Made it Here, I Can Make it Anywhere

Good morning and happy (last) Friday from 26 Broadway!

Today is my last day of work here at JDRF. Normally, as a Friday post I would go over my week and explain what I’ve been doing in the office and my adventures after work. However, I’m not going to go into too much detail on this week just for the sake of this already lengthy post.

Anyway, on Monday, my supervisor took Logan and I out for lunch at the Oyster Bar Restaurant on Pier A, just a few blocks from the office. I thought it was very generous of him to not only invite us but also treat us to a meal. We got to talk more on a personal level, rather than in a professional context as we do in the office. We’ve talked in the beginning of how I have been involved in the diabetes community, but I didn’t have a chance to really explain how and what I have done to reach this point. He asked me specifically about my A1C Champions program. I explained how I got involved and what I do as a youth mentor, and that I really am very passionate about helping others deal with T1D. By doing that I’m also inspired by the kids and parents of T1D’s who are going through the same things as I am. It’s not only a chance for me to explain my tactics or ways to deal with managing my blood sugar, but I also learn from others when they share their stories. We then talked about our upcoming school schedules next semester and our end goals after college. I felt I also had to explain my journey from switching schools junior year of high school up until where I am now because it made a tremendous impact on my life. Transitioning from such a large public school to a very small private school was a challenge, but like all obstacles, I came out stronger and definitely more confident in just about everything I do.

I also believe working here at JDRF had a similar effect. I’ve learned so much from being here in such a relatively short time, and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. This was my first major job, I’d say. This internship experience helped me learn a lot of important aspects of how a well-managed, dynamic company, more specifically how a non-profit organization works at the national level. I worked directly with my supervisor, who is the National Director in Public Relations. I learned a lot from him as well as the whole Communications/Marketing department. Although, I didn’t have a specific, summer-long project that I am presenting like a few of the other interns, I definitely feel the tasks and projects I have been assigned and completed played a major role in our department. As I wrote about what I did week by week in my posts, as a recap, I focused a lot of my time developing lists of media contacts. For example, the Children’s Congress is one of JDRF’s biggest annual events and I was in charge of finding media outlets in the cities that the children delegates were from. I then wrote/edited a letter to these contacts to inform them about this opportunity to cover a story on behalf of JDRF with an attached press release that I sent out. I was also responsible for the daily news document to be shared with the entire staff, which can be seen by donors, JDRF supporters and all employees. I also had minor projects involving organization, and preparing tools for several of JDRF’s Ride to Cure fundraisers across the country. There was never a dull moment in the office. I always had projects to work on or smaller tasks to complete by other departments and I appreciate it greatly that I was able to work with a lot of different people here. I do feel that having this internship has played a role in shaping my career goals, and what kind of work I am or am not interested in.

Working here at JDRF was more than just a job for me. Having T1D for almost 10 years now, I feel like I have a personal connection to JDRF’s vision, mission and the goals, which are to imagine a world without type 1 diabetes. That’s what this organization is all about and I believe it was a perfect match for myself to work here this summer. However, this internship and spending my summer in NYC wouldn’t have been possible without my recent involvement with SWD (Students with Diabetes). I want to thank Nicole Johnson, and everyone else with SWD for creating this wonderful organization which was the platform for me and many others to have this opportunity at not only JDRF, but the other companies that offered an internship as well. It was my first time attending the SWD annual conference the week before I moved to NYC and I will most definitely try to attend the conferences in the upcoming years.

On the other hand, I believe I also gained a lot of insight about myself and the world we live in by living here. There are “districts” or areas like Chinatown, where people of similar culture and people that speak the same language live together. But for the most part, I’ve encountered so many different cultures/religions and types of people from different social classes of all ages every day. I saw homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks and then wealthy people driving their fancy cars all on the same street. I saw a wide range of people every day, but even though we may look different, we have less or have more; we are all the same on the inside. I try to look past everything that people seem to think of what “defines” us and rather be open-minded and forget the stereotypes that have been placed on people and our society these days. Last summer I was involved in an entrepreneurial business and I came across something that changed my point of view on being “comfortable” and that was:

“If you want to be successful and happy in life, you better start getting ‘comfortable’ with being ‘uncomfortable’. The more you stretch, the more opportunity will come.”

Ever since I’ve heard that, I’ve always been more motivated to step out of my comfort zone in many aspects. Moving 600 miles away from my home, my family and friends for an extended period of time was definitely something I was not comfortable with, at first. Although, right now I think to myself, why was I so nervous? As I look back on these past 11 weeks, I would say that I undoubtedly have had the greatest summer or even 2 ½ months of my life, thus far. I wouldn’t say I was forced to step out of my comfort zone, but I also wanted this. I’ve never been away from home for more than 30 days or so, despite at school as I’ve said which is pretty close to where I live and I’ve never navigated a city on my own, let alone one of the largest, and most populated cities in the world. I just got asked yesterday by a lost tourist, how to get “down-town” by subway, as if it was a foreign country to him, like how it was to myself just 11 weeks ago. I’ve become comfortable with my surroundings fairly quick and have thrived here in NYC. Although, I don’t think I could’ve done this without the help and support from my parents which I am so lucky to have them and support me in everything I do.

Before I came here, I made a list of a lot of “touristy” things to do, places to see, and restaurants to dine at. I would love to explain everything I have done here, but that would probably end up being a novel. I had to force myself to stop adding to the list just last week because of how extensive it has gotten, and my time was of the essence. So here’s my NYC list and everything I’ve done with a check mark. If you’re ever in NYC, I’ll be happy to make some recommendations!

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As my final day in NYC is coming to an end, I’m a little sad to leave this amazing city but I’m also excited to be home and even more excited to move back to Michigan State at the end of the month. It’s hard to express into words how grateful I am to have been chosen to work here at JDRF and live in Manhattan as a 20 year old college student. I will definitely remember this unforgettable summer and all the things that made it worthwhile.

As I conclude, I want to say I appreciate everyone reading and following my journey this summer and I thank you for that. I may just have to continue this blog next summer, because I might have another journey ahead, so stay tuned 😉 For now, if you want to keep updated with me via social media, add me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn and/or follow my photos on Instagram.

So long, NYC

-Tyler

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