This summer has been the wildest summer of my life.
I interned at a public relations firm that primarily worked for sports clients like the Professional Golfers' Association of America (PGA) and others like RWJBarnabas Health. While my interest doesn’t lie in sports, it was an opportunity for me to learn, grow and figure out what I want to pursue in the future. I also got invited to Taylor Swift’s house to listen to her new album before it came out. Casual.
To start off, the internship was based in North Jersey, which is an hour away from where I live. I drove there every day, and finally understood why rush hour is a nightmare. I learned a lot of useful skills such as making media lists, contacting reporters from multiple markets, formatting newsletters and making phone calls without stuttering.
But, the experience made me realize it wasn’t what I wanted to pursue later on.
I learned that public relations is the other side of the media industry. The job is to represent clients and manage how they're portrayed in the media. I realized my passion lies in writing, reporting and expressing my opinion on what goes on in the world.
While I was learning new things every day, I was beginning to question if what I was doing would be valuable in the future. Then came the day that things changed.
A Monday afternoon in late July, I was sitting at my desk at my internship and heard my phone buzz as it lit up with a notification from Tumblr. As soon as I saw that it was from Taylor Nation, Swift’s management team, my adrenaline shot up as I read the message asking me for my information. They ended up inviting me to a secret event in Nashville, Tennessee, on Aug. 4.
I immediately knew that the event in question was a secret session, album-listening party that Swift typically holds in her houses prior to her album releases.
I was shaking the entire drive home and as my sister and I were booking flights and a hotel later that night, I was in constant disbelief that Swift invited me to one of the most exclusive fan events that she holds. My sister and I flew out to Nashville that humid Saturday night.
I couldn’t help but notice how “country” everything was. The accents, banners and posters all over the airport of well-known country artists like Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood.
Fast forward to nearly 24 hours later when I was on the bus to Swift's house and screaming along to her songs with everyone, I was still in disbelief. From walking up to her house and milling around her pool eating chicken tenders to being seated in her living room, everything felt like a dream.
The moment Swift came out and said, “Hey guys,” the room erupted in screams and I almost went deaf. I grabbed onto my friend’s hand and couldn’t stop smiling.
Swift almost looked like a Barbie doll. She started by thanking everyone for coming and explained how secret sessions are one of her favorite traditions. She also said how she personally chooses everyone that comes to the sessions and sends them to her team.
Within a couple of minutes, it suddenly started to feel normal as she got into playing the album — which is the first album that she owns and her best work — and lecturing us on the stories behind every song. I never felt more comfortable and happy and in my own element than I did during that time, dancing to songs I never heard but loved immediately the second I heard them.
After Swift finished playing us the album, she took hours meeting every single fan that was invited. I was a nervous wreck going in to meet Swift, but the second I stepped foot in the room, her eyes lit up and she said my name, everything washed away.
I’m so thankful for this experience due to the sheer joy it gave me, and how it seemed to fall at the right time. I was feeling conflicted about the future and the responsibility I was facing, but I finished my internship on a good note and started my 20th birthday in the best way possible.
And as silly as it sounds, being invited to Swift’s house and getting to listen to her new album before everyone else really taught me to live in the moment. Be thankful for every opportunity. Believe you’ll learn something out of everything and that good things will come.