London Calling

I arrived in London remarkably jet lagged. It took at least an hour to get off the plane. The airport was flooded with people as the royal wedding had just taken place the day prior, and there were not enough arrival gates for ourplane to park. So we disembarked via stairs and hopped on a bus. From there, I waited at least another hour in line to spend about 60 seconds going through Border Control.

Needless to say, I was exhausted. However, it was morning and I was determined to make the most of my short amount of time in London, if nothing else to park myself in a coffee shop and hunt down some wifi. So I bought an all day tube pass, and set off towards Piccadilly.

I’ve got to admit, I’ve had Good Life by OneRepublic stuck in my head ever since, due to the lyrics,

“Woke up in London yesterday / found myself in the city / near Piccadilly / don’t really know how I got here / I got some pictures on my phone.”

Clearly they were singing about my life, right?

Coffee Mishaps

I stopped in a Costa Coffee that failed me on wifi, so went to this bookstore that had wifi and sat down in their cafe (without buying a coffee, I know I’m the worst. But I didn’t actually want coffee, and I had already wasted my money on a cafe that claimed to offer wifi but didn’t.)

I set my iced coffee down on the floor next to my feet so as to be inconspicuous. And super smooth me kicks my huge iced latte over and spills it EVERYWHERE. I quickly get up, toss my branded plastic to-go coffee container in the trash, and ask the barista for some towels to clean up the mess. I help him clean it up, and he insists on making me another coffee. I didn’t even buy a coffee from this cafe!! Wow I felt so bad, but he insisted and I couldn’t bring myself to admit that my latte hadn’t even come from their cafe. Oops! Anyways, the guy was incredibly nice and the bookstore absolutely beautiful.

 

Travel Delays

The first week of my travels I was planning to travel with my friend Sam from Maryland/North Carolina, who I met on study abroad in Málaga last year. However, while I was meandering around London and charging up in a cafe, she messaged me in a panic saying her flight was delayed by TEN WHOLE HOURS. Yikes. I started to wonder if she’d even make it, our flight scheduled to Naples from London was bright and early next morning at 6 a.m.

She briefly considered a flight through a strange airline with a layover in Moscow, but continued to hassle United Airlines all night until she managed to find a flight into Rome, then to take a train to meet up with me in Naples. She actually ended up arriving to Naples before I did.

Shopping in Piccadilly, wandering Kings Cross

 I bought this red bikini top from Jack Wills and wandered through many stores far beyond my price range. Window shopping for the win 😉

I finally got to the stop to buy tickets to the Stansted Airport, where my Airbnb host would pick me up for a small fee and take me back in the morning. The train ride was absolutely BEAUTIFUL through the English countryside, and it was refreshing to see the sun peek out as I left the bustling city of London. It was nearing the evening and I came to the realization that I had eaten absolutely nothing all day. Delta airlines fed me well on the flight across the pond, and I was normally accustomed to being asleep at that time. Furthermore, I had a coffee which filled me and I wanted to save money in London. (I know, I did drop 20 pounds on that swimsuit shop, shhh…)

Anyways, by that point I was quite hungry, and opted for fish and chips at a shop called “Stanleys” in the small town of Little Canfield near the Stansted airport. WOW that serving was huge. If you are ever there, find a friend to share your order of fish and chips!

It felt amazing to set my things down after a day of hauling my carry-on about London all day. (Boy am I thankful I managed to pack in only a carry-on. Perhaps I’ll make a post about that sometime.)

I slept so hard that night. Lovely Airbnb. 

Farewell to the Familiar

I am spending the majority of summer 2018 in Spain to practice my Spanish and explore the Basque culture in northern Spain. But first, I am going to take a moment to share more from my travels between my home in Iowa and my home in Spain. 

Goodbyes

The trees were in full bloom when I went to my hometown for a few days, and my dear friend Ellie arrived bearing gifts of scotcheroos (affectionately referred to as yum-yum bars in my family.)

I also had time to catch up with my Iowa State gals, Alaina (who was about to head to Europe as well), and Maddie (who had just returned from Europe herself.) It had been so long since I had really caught up with these amigos and it was so inspiring to chat with some friends equally passionate and enthusiastic about travel.

I also had to say bye to all my Des Moines buddies. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to greatly miss Des Moines, especially all my pals there.    

Des Moines → Chicago

My journey begins with the five and a half hour drive from Des Moines to a the St. Charles suburb in Chicago, where I stayed with my friend Will for a few nights before my flight from the states.

Our car-jam sesh included good tunes ranging from Beyonce to Michael Jackson, BROCKHAMPTON to The Black Keys. A little bit of everything, just the way it should be.

I ended up falling asleep for the last hour, as I only got two hours of sleep the night before when I stayed up until 5 a.m. working on a final assignment for my Media Planning class and had multiple senior photo sessions that same morning.

Will’s family was incredibly kind and welcoming during my stay, and even introduced me to the infamous Portillo’s, where I had the most delicious Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich. WOW.  I’m salivating at just the thought of that meal. Their cake shakes are amazing too.

May 20-21 | O’Hare to Detroit, Detroit to London

Next up, London!

Drake Magazine | Spring 2018

This year I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be on the Drake Mag photography staff. The shoots I was was assigned this year came from a great variety of magazine sections.

Dewy Skin | Fashion + Beauty

This shoot was so fun. Initially we started in my apartment surrounded by the multitude of plant babies my roomies and I care for. From lilies to succulents to a banana tree, we have it all and this made a fun backdrop for some of the photos. This required a great amount of creativity layering the plants to create a sufficient backdrop.

I also purchased these reflectors prior to shooting for Drake Mag and they really came in handy throughout all my shoots this spring.

The next location we stopped at was actually right outside my apartment, in front of some pine trees scattered next to a restaurant parking lot. On a normal day, if I were to approach this spot, you would have never dreamed this to be a backdrop. However, the simple lush pine tree backdrop was all we needed on that blustery spring day.

Our model, Reality Hendrix was a true trooper, and an absolute natural in front of the camera despite the chilly weather.

Sylvan Esso | Music + Culture

I must admit, I took full advantage of my photographer’s pass designated for the initial three songs played and hugged the stage for the entire concert. Sylvan Esso was life changing. Truly the best concert I’ve ever been to. Their stage chemistry was unlike anything I have ever experienced in a performance. Think Rihanna and Drake’s chemistry but with their eyes.

Their vibe was emphatic. The performance energized me to the point where, if I was not snapping photos, I was jumping and grooving right alongside the pumped up crowd. The auditorium was made for sit down concerts but this crowd was alive and full of movement. No chairs could contain us.

 

Herbs | Health + Sex

This photoshoot was my first experience in the Drake greenhouse perched on top of the Science Connecter building. What an urban jungle. Again, these shoots took place during those dreary Iowan spring-that-feels-like-winter months. This greenhouse was a safe haven and my spirits were instantly lifted upon entry.

The earthy smell of soil, the humidity you could feel swallowing you up, the lush greenery, I loved it all. The lights simulating sunlight partnered with the mid-day overcast sky made the most perfect environment for a photographer, and I absolutely loved how this particular shoot turned out.

Revenge Bods | Health + Sex

I recruited my incredibly fit-focused friend Tierney to model for me in this shoot. We went to the Bell Center gym to conduct this photoshoot. Her boyfriend Joe was really sweet and helped balance out the weights while we were in between shots.

That day, it was snowing like crazy this day so we weren’t getting a strong glow of natural light from the windows. However we worked with the light and darkness, turning off the overhead lights to capture that soft light entering through the windows. The sharp red light from the digital clock made the scene feel intense and set the tone for our shoot.

Duluth, Minnesota and the North Shore

I have been to Duluth twice within the past year, once in October for a soccer game with the Drake Women’s Soccer Club and again this December on a roadtrip with my best friend Ellie to the north shore of Lake Superior.

After we got our butts kicked in the soccer game in October, I stuck around the city with my teammates Kailey and Shannon. My spirits were low after the loss and I was stressed out about all the homework I would need to attend to during the six to seven hour drive back to school, but I am so happy I stuck around.

Pizza Luce

Our first stop was Pizza Luce, this amazing pizza parlor with baked potato pizza. Yes, you heard me right. The baked potato pizza consists of a pizza crust topped with a hearty but creamy red baked potato. Don’t believe me? Check out their website and read the description…

We smother our pizza crust in buttery, garlic baby red mashed potatoes and top it with broccoli, fresh-diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese and chopped bacon. Served with a side of sour cream.

I believe there is also a Pizza Luce location in Minneapolis, so if you don’t have the time for a trek to northern Minnesota, you are still in luck.

Electric Fetus

This record store is one of those eclectic shops where you can laugh at all the touristy merchandise while you sift through used records hoping to strike gold. I always love seeing albums that I know and love on Spotify and imagining those tunes spinning on a turn table (an item on my wishlist!)

Airbnb

When Ellie and I stayed in Duluth,we opted for an Airbnb. The hosts we stayed with were great. I would highly recommend staying with our host if you are in Duluth and needing somewhere inexpensive to crash for a few nights. The wifi was great for when I needed to do some work, the cats were sweet, and they even let us borrow their snowshoes!

Scenic Byway

Ellie and I hit the Scenic Byway of the North Shore Drive, which I would highly recommend if you are on a leisurely trip and not in a hurry to get from point A to point B. So when you approach a fork in the road and must choose between the Scenic Byway or Highway 61 Expressway, choose the views and take the Scenic Byway.

Split Rock Lighthouse

This spot was beautiful. Ellie and I stopped on the side of the road before we got there to get the landscape view, and then drove into the state park. The museum leading up the lighthouse was fun, I would recommend walking through.

 

Susan G. Komen Iowa

I first began interning with the Susan G. Komen Iowa affiliate (now Susan G. Komen Greater Iowa) when I was still a freshman in college, afraid to approach an interview and intimidated by the idea of a real job in my professional field. IMG_6719 (1)

Two years later, even after my internship ended, I was offered opportunities to volunteer my time with this great organization. Photographing events, helping events staff, and assisting social media efforts.

Life gets busy and with more work experience and jobs filling my time, I have not been able to spend as much time with this organization. However, I am so thankful for the opportunities and connections the organization has brought me.

When I first interviewed, I pointed out that I had little prior experience. My strongest points were my willingness to work hard, learn, and my interest in the organizations mission and interest in volunteering my time and skills towards the cause. My resume was loaded with high school activities, because I was simply a freshman emerging from her first semester of college, watching seemingly all the students around me somehow nab these amazing internships.

Yes, I felt pressured to get an internship, because all my peers at Drake University were doing the same. Yet I am so thankful for the pressure. I’m thankful for the Drake culture of excellence, of pursuing field experience at a young age, even as an underclassman, growing in a genuine, professional environment.

So back to the interview. At first, I did not receive the job. It was handed to someone more experienced and older.

However, I received a call a week or so later with a job offer. I was next in line, apparently. So I said yes.

The internship I received was essentially split into two parts, the spring “events” internship, and the summer “social media” internship. They decided to keep me around through the fall to help with the Race for the Cure 2016, and then a bit of winter, all the way up to my study abroad in January.

I still returned home that summer to lifeguard and make some money as I geared up to study abroad, but this small, unpaid internship made a world of difference as I pursued more jobs into the future.

Takeaways:

Working Remote

This internship was not out of the office in Merle Hay, but rather a remote internship. This pushed me to excel in terms of internal communication, prepared me well for future jobs, and helped me forge strong professional relationships despite working from my dorm room or the library on campus. I learned how to network throughout the city even as a freshman without a car, simply relying on email, phone calls, and the occasional Des Moines transit to get me where I needed to be from time to time. (Shoutout to you, DART bus.)

Content Calendars

My primary responsibility in the summer was maintaining a schedule of social media posts to Facebook. I learned how to use Facebook’s publishing platform to draft and schedule posts. In terms of content, I followed a pretty straightforward pattern where each day of the week followed a particular theme. I think this idea of day-by-day themes is useful and worth considering as a tactic in future jobs. I know that there is some research out there that suggests companies do not need to post every day, some no more than a few leveraged posts a month.

Blink

This summer, I interned with Blink, a local marketing agency. While small, Blink has great capacity to drive results, results marked by healthy and successful clients.

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As an intern, my professional skills and vocational knowledge truly flourished. After the experience, it is safe to say I am more confident as a marketable professional.

Photography

This was by far my favorite and most prominent area of growth over the summer.

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Event photography was essential to our clients at the agency, and this really gave me the opportunity to grow professionally. Rather than just shooting for fun, I was shooting for our clients.

I invested in a 50mm, f/1.8 lens.  All of my photographer friends recommended this particular lens, referring to it as the number one lens in any photographer’s tool kit. The lower aperture really allowed me to step up my level of photography from where I was while abroad.

My coworker Lianna owned her own photography business. She gave me some really great advice about knowing your worth and charging accordingly. She also offered keen insight on preparation prior to photoshoots and knowing how to use light. I learned a lot even just tagging along on a mock-senior session with our boss’s daughter, Alli.

Social Media

Content Calendars. These babies are awesome when planning posts for multiple businesses. I learned how to use Hootsuite and developed a spreadsheet design for planning that worked well for me. In my past internship with Susan G. Komen, I had a rough idea of the general topics I wanted to cover, but this my content calendars spelled out the topics day by day and really allowed me to think more strategically about the type of content I was going to share on behalf of the businesses.

Personality. Social media, even for a business, must radiate personality. Truly the best way to do this is incorporate people in your pictures. I grew the Northwest Ag Supply Instagram greatly, simply through engaging followers with direct quotes and personable portrait photography.

Connections

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Jill was not only a strong marketing professional, but a great mentor and human being. She thrived in all aspects of her life, as a community member, wife, mother, coach, the list goes on.

She was extremely supportive of me and made sure I had the opportunity to grow as a professional.

Learning by way of trial & error.

Low aperture in group pictures. This is dangerous territory. I can still picture the shots my coworkers and I nervously scrolled through as we realized that many faces were not in focus at the meet-n-greet with the country artists we brought to Okoboji.

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Interviews. I learned that often, men in agricultural practices don’t like to be interviewed. But they’re sharp and know what they’re talking about, especially the ones who may not pipe up and chat up a storm with you right off the bat.

Vacuums. In really old, hunky vacuums, there is a “driving” function. Even in an air conditioned office, one can work up a sweat trying to push those things around without the drive function. This is what I call intern grunt work.