By Olivia Land
During my freshman year of high school, my English teacher kicked off the semester with a unit on origin stories. In a ploy to get my fellow students and I to connect literature to our own lives, the teacher emphasized that idea that beginnings- whether it’s the first day of high school or a Greek myth- are important. It sounds obvious, but the environments, attitudes, and behavior we start from can play a huge role in how we progress going forward. Case in point: Almost four years after my English teacher whipped out a chapter from Genesis, here I am as an intern at Dream, Girl. How did I get here? To make a long story short, I heard about Dream, Girl the film last March, and attended the screening in New York a few months later. I was so inspired by the film that I couldn’t help but reach out to the team, to say thank you for creating and sharing their work. One thing lead to another, and by that fall I’d published a handful of articles here on Feminist Wednesday, and felt even more connected to both the team and the company’s message. I knew I needed to plan for my senior project- a three-week internship that my school requires before graduation- so I reached out to Erin about joining the team. It is now mid-May at violà, here I am. Through this series, I’ll be sharing my experience working with Dream, Girl over the next few weeks. I’m so excited to see what’s ahead, but because I already mentioned that beginnings are important, let’s start with week one…
Day 1 of my Dream, Girl internship was Monday, May 15. Now, anyone who knows me well can attest to the fact that I am all about getting outside my comfort zone and into unfamiliar waters. With that said, the beginning of my Dream, Girl internship was a mix of the familiar and the unknown. As I mentioned above, I’d been following Dream, Girl’s journey for over a year, and had been speaking with the team either over email or in person for months. What didn’t I know? Well, for starters, I had never been to the corner of Brooklyn where I was set to meet Diana and Erin at 11 a.m. on Monday morning. Thank the universe for Google Maps- not to mention some positive vibes from my grandmother, who grew up in the same neighborhood- because otherwise I’m sure I would’ve gotten lost somewhere between the Barclays Center and Bay Ridge. Not only that, but I spent most of my first morning commute worrying about the fact that, aside from the interior of the decided-upon coffee shop that I shamelessly stalked on Yelp, I had no idea what I was walking into. A few phone calls and one office visit, after all, are hardly enough to understand the real ins-and-outs of a working company. And while I had a list of proposed tasks for the week, I was clueless as to what the next few days would look and feel like.
As it turns out, being the Dream, Girl intern feels pretty great. No two days are alike (I’ll get into that later), and my field journal is already covered with notes from tasks, ideas, and conversations with the team. Even in just five days, I feel as if I gained a fresh perspective on not only Dream, Girl’s business, but the nature of work in general. One of my primary tasks this week, for example, was to send out sales messages via Instagram and Twitter. As I scoured Dream, Girl’s following on both platforms in search of potential outreach targets, I couldn’t help but think of my dad, whose first job after college was making cold calls…with an actual phone. Remembering my dad’s stories about ears that ached from being pressed against the phone for eight hours a day was yet another example of how much technology altered our lives in work, home, and the rest of our lives. Even just thinking about how different that climate when enter the workforce in four years- heck, even over the course of the next two weeks- is both daunting and thrilling.
The idea of rapid change carries through to my next big takeaway, or learning how to go with the flow. As I said above, no day with the DG team looked the same. One second I was accompanying Diana to a meeting in the Flatiron District, and within minutes we were on the subway headed back for Brooklyn. A few days later, I was working from home, catching up with the team over Skype every few hours. As someone who likes her schedules molded in marble, spending my first week with the Dream, Girl crew was a positive lesson in adapting to non-traditional work environment. In fact, I was surprised by how easily my Type-A mind adjusted to the DG routine. To use start-up tongue, the past week was perhaps my first brush with the “pivot.”
Personality revelations aside, probably my most formative experiences of the week took place at the three meetings I sat in on with the team. Each experience not only pulled to various corners of Manhattan, but also introduced me to a handful of women all in pursuit of chasing the Dream, Girl ethos. Lesson number one? The Dream, Girl spirit- that ambition, drive, and heart that first drew me to the project-looks different on everyone. To me, the DG vibe is like the little black dress: universally flattering, and never fails to stand out in the best way. Lesson number two? Unlike the LBD, embodying the Dream, Girl message is hard. The women I met in these meetings are all at various stages of chasing their dream, and each one of them was open about the struggles entailed with building a business (and a life) you love. Listening to them speak and seeing the expressions in their eyes brought me back to Janet Lustgarten’s Your Moment of Ambition episode about emotional intelligence. Indeed, by witnessing their vulnerability, my own mind was able to bridge both desks and age differences to forge a connection with each of these women. I feel for their struggles, and I cheer for their victories.
When I wrote out my notes for this article- the first of a series documented my internship experience- I was tempted to come up with a cool sign-off, like a mid-century news anchor or up-and-coming podcaster. After much back and forth (because who doesn’t want a signature “goodbye”?), I ruled out the jargon. Instead, I’ll leave you with an image of how I look and fell when I come home from my Dream, Girl internship. Truth be told? It’s not so pretty in the ‘look” department. When I emerge from the NJ Transit, my fingers are sore, my eyes are heavy, I’m covered in subway grime, and my hair is doing who-knows-what. The feeling however, is a good one: I’m tired, but more importantly inspired to wake up and dream big again the next day.