No risk, no reward?

It’s weird to think that today could’ve been my last day at VaynerMedia. 3 months ago, I decided to leave my full time job to accept an internship. I never thought that’s the route that I would be taking but it’s in my nature to do things the hard way and I have a knack for taking the road less traveled. (Although, looking back on all of my risky decisions I’d rather call it the scenic route.) Financially I was in no position to be making this kind of change, let alone in one of the most expensive cities in the world. But sometimes when you’re complacent for so long, it can drive you to make rather hasty decisions. My mom used to tell me that I “jump at swinging ropes”, so when I applied to become a photo intern, I was nervous to see what her reaction would be.

Backtracking to a year before this, my brother-in-law Ryan came up to me at a family dinner and asked me if I had ever heard of Gary Vaynerchuk. Ryan is one of the hardest working people I know so when he showed me Gary’s Instagram, it didn’t surprise me that Ryan valued this guy. “You should follow him, you share a similar perspective on a lot of things.” I grabbed my phone and hit the follow button a few seconds later. Ryan was right. A lot of what Gary is about definitely resonates with me. Work hard for what you want, hold yourself accountable…I understood Gary’s message. One of the biggest reasons I decided to follow him though was for his thoughts on college. Growing up, I had it rough in school. I was excelling in reading and writing, but failing miserably in anything math related. I was being forced to retake these math classes which were being taught to me the same way every time with the expectation that I would suddenly grasp it all out of the blue. This system made me feel stuck and trapped. I felt like my strengths were being swept under the rug every day. School became draining and felt pointless. I already knew what I was good at. I didn’t need to wake up at 6 AM 5 times a week to be told what I was bad at. I knew my weaknesses and I knew my strengths. I wanted to make the decision for myself to focus on my strengths and not allow someone else to dictate what I was able to focus on anymore. So, I made the gut decision at a pretty young age that I wasn’t going to go to college. I made it through high school algebra, my own personal hell. So you better believe I wasn’t going to put myself in debt just to give college algebra a try. But despite knowing in my gut that I wasn’t going back to school, I was depressed about this decision. It was hard to relate to my friends who were having a college experience. I got wrapped up in comparing my life to theirs and I felt like they were ahead of me. I felt like they were experiencing new opportunities that I was not. Days of self doubt were a part of my normal routine for a while but, as I got older I learned that if you know what’s right for you, you’re already ahead of the game. When I watched Gary’s video about college, I felt like someone finally understood me. Even though at 24 years old with the thought of graduating from college far behind me, it was a moment that felt like things had come full circle.

I was sitting at my desk at work when I randomly decided to check Vayner’s current job openings. When I saw that VaynerMedia needed a photo intern, I applied with a link to my portfolio. Semi hoping that I would get a call back but mostly thinking that I was crazy for applying for an internship. My gut has a way of making decisions for me and it decided it was time for a change. A change that involved a huge financial risk, but a change nonetheless.

It’s been 3 months since I started at Vayner. Today was supposed to be the last day of my contract. I’m happy to say this isn’t the case. If you want to grow, you have to change. In order to change, sometimes you need to take a risk and if you’re lucky enough, the risk and the reward go hand in hand.