Rachel Simon, 2019 Fellow

I first learned of the Furman Metropolitan Fellowship on move-in day of my junior year at Furman. Intrigued by the brief description in an email blast, I further investigated the program, applied, and proceeded through the interview process. Finally, after receiving word that I was one of two fellows selected, I found myself in quite the predicament: I was terrified of going to New York City. Everyone knows “the real learning” takes place outside of our comfort zones, but when it comes time to actually venture into unknown territory, the task can feel all too daunting. The skyscrapers, coffee shops, and underground subway stops that had once seemed exciting while watching Friends suddenly constructed the most intimidating experience I could imagine.

Internship programs bring college students to New York every summer; however, they don’t always give students the tools to make their summer experiences successful. The FMF program goes far beyond providing financial resources to creating an environment within New York in which students can learn and grow both professionally and personally.

From the beginning, my FMF mentors furiously networked to help me find the necessary connections to intern within my area of interest. After securing an internship, the FMF team warmly welcomed me to their beloved city with dinners, roof-top hang outs, and leadership development events. Through conversation, they helped me process what I was learning at work as well as at home. Through sharing experiences, they encouraged me to adventure to new parts of the city. And over time, our small Furman community slowly shortened the skyscrapers and widened the sidewalks to empower me to tackle New York City head on.

After my New York adventure, I find myself immensely more equipped going forward. Professionally, I understand the importance of finding a company that both challenges you daily to learn and acquire new tasks and also fosters a culture where employees ask questions and unite as a team. Personally, the confidence I gained from successfully navigating the subway system (most of the time…), living on a budget, and adventuring to new museums and restaurants around the city reminds me that wherever I end up post-grad, I can rise to the occasion and succeed. Yet, most importantly, I know that no matter where I end up or what I’m doing in the future, I will always have a crowd cheering for me from the corner of 14th and 4th, ready to greet me when I stop foot in the Big Apple once again.