I vividly remember the first week of my freshman year: I was a lost international student looking for his niche. As I was walking around the yearly student organization fair, I bumped into someone wearing a red cape and holding a styrofoam red X. I had heard about TED Talks back at home, and had watched a handful of them in class. However, the thought of actually planning a conference that put on TED Talks had never crossed my mind.
As I approached the table to sign up, my first thought was this will be cool thing to add to my résumé. Looking back, I could not have anticipated the impact joining TEDx would have. Being a part of TEDx was far beyond what I expected. I met an incredible group of people, I gained valuable event management experience, and most importantly, I was able to be on the team that organized one of the largest student-run TEDx event in the world! 2017 now marks my third year on the team. I’ve circled through the Technology and Creative teams, and I’m currently on the Content team. Such variety has allowed me to observe the event from different perspectives and better myself professionally.
As a business student, I am fascinated by career opportunities. When I saw an opening at the International Monetary Fund last summer, I bit the bullet and applied, but my résumé was not that impressive. I had held some positions at the University but, if accepted, this was going to be my first internship in college. For all of you who have been through the job-hunting experience, you know what it’s like to check your email every day hoping to hear back from a recruiter. A couple weeks later, I received a phone call asking me to come in for an interview. I’ve been at my current position for nearly six months now, and I have been able to apply all the event-management concepts I learned with TEDx, not only to my projects, but also to the work of the department.
As an intern at the IMF, I have had to deal with high-stress situations, assist VIPs and exert the utmost levels of professionalism. As a TED team member, you are exposed to the same situations, whether you’re backstage welcoming speakers, or checking-in one of our 1,500+ attendees. One of our former speakers, Jessica Lawrence, said so herself: “[TEDxFoggyBottom is] the most professional and well-organized conference that I’ve participated in.”
My biggest takeaway from this experience is to embrace every opportunity you have. Little did I know that being part of this organization would help me get an internship, or that it would contribute to my day-to-day responsibilities at my internship. Being in a team composed of 50+ members who work together to plan a large-scale event such as TEDxFoggyBottom has helped me gain the confidence to apply myself to projects bigger than myself and has given me the edge that I need to put my foot in the door.