This post is beautifully written by our latest intern Rory Finnegan. For the past month and a half, Rory has been an amazing asset to our MtoM team. While we wish we could keep her with us, we wish her the best of luck as she continues her studies at my beloved alma mater, University of Virginia.

– Christine

As a college student, it’s easy to get caught between textbook ideas and abstract ideals—between writing papers and falling in love, boosting your resume and soul searching, applying for jobs and seeking creative endeavors. It seems impossible to balance it all, and even more difficult to determine what is most important.

Sometimes all it takes is one meaningful experience to come to a conclusion. My “experience” started nearly a year ago, when I began working at the University of Virginia’s HackCville as the Marketing & Communications Manager. In this position, I learned the basics of marketing and social media, but more importantly, I was exposed to a network of creative thinkers. I drew inspiration from the entrepreneurial students who joined HackCville with big ideas. I admired my fellow staff members, who were constantly searching for new ways to make HackCville a better, more engaging, environment. I also found role models—and ultimately, an internship— through the UVa alumni who served as mentors to the HackCville community. My assigned mentor Sonya Patel impressed me with her ability to balance a career with her lifetime passions, music and writing. She encouraged me to grow more familiar with my own creative passions and to seek a work environment where I could pursue them. So, I did.

In March, I got in touch with a mentor in HackCville’s database, CEO of MtoM Consulting Christine Wilson. In June, I moved to the Washington D.C. area to begin an internship at her marketing consulting agency. Six weeks later, as my time with MtoM comes to an end, I realize just how impactful my internship has been.

At MtoM, I had the opportunity to create content ranging from photos at a client property to animated infographic videos. I gained experience in measuring social engagement and scheduling content on social media. I learned to think up exciting hashtags, tweets, and more. This is only the tip of the iceberg; at MtoM, I was exposed to many of the platforms, techniques, and processes that make up effective high-level marketing.

Although certainly valuable, the new skills I’ve gained are not what will have a lasting impact. Instead, it’s the creative freedom I was given in everything I worked on. At MtoM, creativity flourishes because each strategist is encouraged to do his or her own thing. Outside of client guidelines, there is no set of rules, no list of what to create and how to create it. After spending years in school perfecting paper writing techniques and efficient reading skills, I loved having the opportunity to rediscover creativity—no rules or rubrics required.

It is so easy to feel caught between the expectations of college and the dreams you’ve carried with you all your life. Can you do well in class, major in something relevant, take on leadership positions, plan your future and still find time for creativity, love, introspection, and passion? For a long time, these things seemed distinct and separate to me. But this summer, I discovered that they don’t have to be. Christine, Tracey, Diane, and all of the amazing leaders and thinkers at MtoM Consulting have shown me that a career in creativity is not only feasible, it’s exciting. In seeing these two seemingly distinct parts of my life come together, I no longer feel the need to prioritize societal expectations or my own dreams. Instead, as I enter my third year of school at the University of Virginia and think about my future, I’m going to try to combine them.

Through my internship at MtoM, I gained valuable skills in marketing. More importantly, my internship allowed me to fall in love with creativity again.

(link to hackcville: http://www.hackcville.com/)

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