"When you've worked hard and done well, and walked through that door of opportunity...you don't slam it shut behind you...you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed."
- Michelle Obama
Last summer I interned at one of the top advertising agencies in NYC and my experience was game changing, both personally and professionally. As great as the experience was, I made next-to-nothing that summer and if you know anything about the cost of living in New York, you know it's astronomically high. There's no way I could've survived if my internship program hadn't provided extremely discounted housing for the summer.
And honestly, without the discounted housing option, I would've never applied for an internship in New York, or anywhere outside of my home state, for that matter. I would've seen the cost as a barrier and consequently missed out on a life changing opportunity. I noticed other young, multicultural women around me were at a similar crossroads. They were highly ambitious and dreamed of spending their summer interning outside of South Carolina, but they didn't have the financial resources to make it happen. It upset me because I understood their struggle, but what could I do?
When I heard the Michelle Obama quote above, I felt challenged to take action. I wrestled with the idea of starting something, but it seemed too big, too hard and too much. I ran from the idea and convinced myself of all the reasons it wouldn't work (there we go with the self-inflicted ceilings again) until finally I decided that something had to be done. And here we are.
There are enough ceilings placed on young women of color, so please don't place them on yourself. Let's shatter them, together.