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What I Learned From My Internship at Story2

by Story2 Guest Author, on Aug 26, 2013 2:25:00 PM

If you had asked me, “What should a college essay look like?” before I had started my summer internship at Story2, I would’ve said, “A standard five paragraph essay. It’s just like the book reports you write in English class, only the report is on you. ” Working at Story2, however, brought me to the realization that that is just a nice way of saying agonizingly boring and terribly unauthentic. College essays should be anything but “standard.” It’s the only glimpse an admissions office gets of you as a person, beyond GPAs and SAT scores. Your story - who you are - is more than a collection of test grades. Colleges realize that, but they give you no more than 650 words to talk about who you are. The stakes are incredibly high. When you write your college essay, it’s important to understand that it’s the worst time for clichéd, generic writing.   

As part of my internship, I got to take Story 2’s “Essay In A Day” course for free. On the morning of the course, I went through my usual routine. Walk. Bus. Train. Walk. Enter lobby. Enter elevator. When I arrived at the office, things changed quickly. I was in a different room with different people. I grabbed a seat and fumbled with the folder in front of me. I looked at the contents of the folder while engaging in small talk. I was pretty sure I stuffed these folders. There were three other people there — the outgoing guy I had taken the elevator with and two initially timid but ultimately friendly girls on the other side of the table. I looked at my phone. The seven hour class was starting in seven minutes. I knew this would be great — Story2 has an amazing approval rate. I had overheard countless phone calls to potential customers. “We have a 99% success rate. The kid who didn’t like it said that he didn’t want others to have the advantage he had.” Still, the idea of seven hours of college essay talk was daunting. Was this class really as great as everyone claimed it to be? As more people started coming in (for a grand total of eight kids) and the class started, my curiosity grew. I remembered phrases such as “magnet, pivot and glow” from various documents I skimmed, and I was interested to see how all the foreign words I had seen would all come together. With nothing but curiosity, high expectations and the clothes on my back, I ventured off into unknown territory.

You never know with a group of kids. The situation can either be painfully uncomfortable or inhibition-free. Everyone can either be friendly or afraid. Luckily, it wasn’t long before we warmed up to each other — exchanging looks as one instructor told stories of flesh eating diseases, giggling at drug references in example essays, and getting to know each other through icebreakers. The time soon came where we all took turns telling our stories. There was a range of different experiences and thoughts on the world. It came as no shock to me — that’s what you get when a diverse group of kids come together and talk about their lives. Some told tales of their travels to foreign land. One even talked about his experience of telling his family he was gay. Everyone was so open, and it amazed me how an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people could become such a welcoming, safe, space with attention grabbing instructors.

My mind likes to wander. I like to text. I like to browse the internet. I like to play games on my phone. I like to watch shows on Netflix. It doesn’t matter where I am. I could be trying to finish an essay due in an hour. I could even be at work and lose five minutes just messing around on my phone, doing nothing in particular. I get the distracted while I’m being distracted. It’s terrible, really. I’ve only been able to consistently do two things for more than twenty minutes before getting distracted — sleep and eat. So, when I say I was completely and thoroughly invested in the class, it speaks volumes to how enthralling the ideas that Story2 presents are. It’s hard for me to comprehend the fact that I learned so much in seven hours. It’s even harder to comprehend how something that’s usually so arduous was so fun.  

“I’ve known you guys for seven hours, but it feels like I’ve known you for months,” one student remarked as we stood around, exchanging information outside of the building. It was a fun ride, but the time came for it to end. I knew the course would be great, but I didn’t think I’d meet such remarkable people and learn something so ingenious, yet simple. The course exceeded my every expectation. It didn’t feel long enough. I wanted nothing more than an extra five minutes.

Samaiyah Patrick is a junior at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts. This summer, she worked as an intern at Story2 and participated in the "Essay In A Day" course.

To read the essays of four Story2 students that got into their top-choice college, click here.