Say Yes & Fight On!
Hi! My name is Esther Cha and I am so excited to join the Improv to Improve team as the new Business Development and Marketing intern. I am currently a rising sophomore at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.
If you told me a year ago that I would be finishing my first year at USC in sunny Los Angeles, I probably would not have believed you. I still remember that Monday afternoon when I received my admissions letter in the mail-- the big one. My smile stretched from ear to ear for a week after I got my acceptance and my mom was worried about my jaws getting strained.
I am writing to you now in my last week of classes looking back on this past crazy year full of growth, new experiences, and of course challenges.
Let’s start with challenges.
Entering the Marshall School of Business was in one word: Daunting. Everyone seemed to have it all together and spoke so eloquently. I was so confused, what is the difference between business casual and business professional? How do I approach networking without appearing insincere? What is Linkedin and how do I write a cover letter? I was very overwhelmed with how to navigate the business world. In a way, I was “improv-ing” my way through college. Fortunately, I was able to learn and grow so much through these experiences. While class work comes with a clear syllabus and outlined course material there are some things about business that you can only learn through experience. Here is what I learned:
1. Do not block a YES for a fear of a NO:
New experiences come with lots of new questions and “putting yourself out there”. In business school, I learned I would get a lot of rejection. Rejection is inevitable but it should not discourage you from continuing to ask questions, apply to internships, try out for clubs, etc. Because all it takes is one yes.
2. People WANT to help you:
I feel so lucky to be surrounded by so many intelligent and talented students and brilliant professors. You can choose to view this as intimidating or view this as the best opportunity ever to pick people’s brains, hear their stories, and learn from them. I remember going to my first office hours very nervous because my writing professor is a Harvard graduate and has received numerous awards. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to talk to her. She gave me a lot of advice on pursuing my goals and how to improve my writing. I also got to know her more on a personal level and now I go to her office hours all the time to just chat. Asking someone to meet over a cup of coffee or a meal can go a long way. Building meaningful relationships is key.
3. Don’t stress about your mistakes, learn from them:
I have made SO many mistakes in my freshman year alone. From failed interviews, to locking myself out of my dorm room. You name it, it's happened - but with those mistakes, I have learned so much more. I have become more confident in my interview skills through practice, I have become a better speaker thanks to my communications class, and I have learned how to successfully write a 15 page paper. College is all about trial and error and dwelling in your mistakes will only harm you. Mistakes make us feel uncomfortable but discomfort challenges us to grow and become stronger, more confident professionals.
I think we all “Improvise” in a way and learning how to do that in a professional setting is crucial to success because that’s what business is all about. It’s unpredictable and always changing. Many times it’s uncomfortable, but that’s what makes it so exciting. When I came across a job listing for an internship position with Improv to Improve, I decided to use the skills I garnered from “improvising” my way through business school. I cold called Alex, the Co-Founder of Improv to Improve, asking for an interview. I was able to send my resume and cover letter that I had been revising all year with a newfound confidence. I have improved so much this year as a young business professional through situations where I had to improvise. I can’t wait to head back home to Dallas and grow alongside the amazing founders of this company!
Let’s improve together. And as always, Fight On.