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Putting in The Work: Emily Badin Chats About Working Hard, Self Motivation, and Staying Positive During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Podcast influencer Emily Badin talking about self motivation in school Emily Badin knows a thing or two about self motivation and working hard to reach your goals. On Student Influencers Episode 11 of the Homework Help Show Podcast, we talked to her about how she stays focused, works hard, and keeps a positive attitude even when life gets in the way.

Born in California and raised in Baltimore County, Maryland, Emily is currently living in College Park, Maryland, and studying public policy at the University of Maryland. She hopes to continue post-graduate studies in environmental policy and sustainability, and her goal is to get into government or non-profit work.

When Homework Help Global caught up to Emily, she was overcoming the challenge of working from home and doing online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, most of the United States and Canada are under quarantine or stay-at-home orders, and universities and workplaces have quickly adjusted to a new virtual online space. For Emily, this has presented some challenges, but those challenges haven’t stopped her from working toward her goals. She is currently completing her semester online, and while her part-time job is on hold at the moment, she’s continuing her internship at Alianta, a non-profit Romanian American organization chaired by Maryland governor Jim Rosepepe.

Brick stairway at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland

Despite her internship and schoolwork keeping her busy, Emily took the time to chat with us about self motivation, time management, working hard to succeed, and staying positive during a global pandemic.

“This is All Bigger Than Us”

In the midst of the pandemic, many people, and particularly students, are feeling weighed down, stressed, and anxious. It’s really easy for people to get into a funk when they’re stressed about the state of the world and trying to adjust to a completely new lifestyle. Even Emily has her days. Some days she gets up, gets all of her work done and fits in time for exercise, and other times she finds herself staying in bed all day.

Emily’s mom once told her that if you’re having a bad day, just get one thing done. If you can get one thing done, and then another thing the next day, by the end of the week you can finish your list. To add to this, Emily says, “You have to kind of remind yourself that you’re doing this for a reason and this is all going to end eventually.” If you can just get one thing done, that’s better than nothing. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re having trouble staying self motivated. Just keep trying, and you’ll find your groove sooner than you think.

There are so many people being impacted by the pandemic, and to Emily, the most important thing to remember is why you’re doing what you’re doing. Even business executives she’s met are having trouble trying to adjust, so it’s important not to be too hard on yourself or on others. Focus on your degree and finishing your courses, and keep your end goal in sight. Everyone is doing the best they can to cope during times that are uncertain and unpredictable.

Her self motivation tips for struggling students? “Do the best you can. The whole world is changing from this, and no one is really going to judge how you deal with it after.” Take care of yourself and keep trying, even if you have your days where you’re not motivated to do anything at all. Just go day by day and think about the bigger picture.

If you’re struggling in your own online classes and can’t seem to hit your groove, you can always check out our blog on 25 tips for your online classes.

Emily Badin outside in the sunshine working hard in her classes

The Key to Being Self Motivated: Knowing That You Are Exactly Where You Need to Be

One of Emily’s biggest motivators is putting everything into perspective. It’s important to her to remember what drives you. When you’re in university, you’re there for a reason. Remember that reason and use that as a driving force whenever you’re feeling bogged down or distracted. When you are learning how to motivate yourself, this is an important first step.

In high school, if you fail a class, you can just retake it, but in university it costs more money every time you do that. That money comes out of your pocket, and it can pile up quickly if you’re not taking your schoolwork seriously. It’s important to make sure you’re there for the right reasons. That’s how you find the drive to work hard and put in the effort to get on the right career path.

If you just drift through all of your classes and meeting the minimum requirements to pass, you’re not setting yourself up for a productive career. When you acknowledge why you’re in school, you learn to put in the effort and enjoy the rewards that come with working hard. You will become a more well-rounded person if you take pride in the work you’re doing, even if it’s work you really don’t want to do.

Emily practicing self motivation during class at UMD

The Key to Working Hard: Rethinking How You Look at Work

One of Emily’s mantras on how to get motivated is thinking about work in a more positive, constructive way. She says that someone once told her that, “people think work is a bad word,” but you have to think of it as putting in the work to get results.

We need to stop thinking about work as something that weighs us down or burdens us. Even if it’s something you don’t really want to be doing, like reading 30 chapters of your chemistry textbook, you need to look at it from the mindset that this is the hard work you need to do in order to get the results you want in life. When you finish those readings, you can get the marks you need in school to graduate and then get job prospects in your field.

To Emily, the biggest challenge is putting in the time and the effort to get good results in university. Once you’ve put in that time, you can finish strong and set yourself up to achieve everything you dream about. As a bonus, after putting in all that hard work and finishing your semester out strong, that summer or winter break is even more relaxing and rewarding.

Another thing Emily says is important to remember is knowing that you will face difficulties and challenges along the way. Don’t go into a difficult class knowing it’s difficult and thinking you can skate by doing less work. Prepare yourself for the challenges you’re going to face and get ready to work hard in all of your classes, and within the rest of your life as well.

Emily Badin studying with good time management skills

Time Management and Adapting to a New Routine in University

Another big secret to Emily’s ability to work hard and stay self motivated? Good time management skills. She thinks that good time management skills are crucial when you’re faced with the accountability of being a university student, and she’s learned to develop her own time management skills after years of practice.

One of the biggest challenges she faced when she went from high school to university was learning how to manage her time properly. Normally, she balances her part-time job, her internship at Alianta, and her full courseload and still manages to fit in enough study time to keep her grades up.

Here are some of Emily’s go-to time management techniques:

● Separate school spaces and home spaces. When you live on campus, it’s hard to separate school and home, but this is an important part of working hard and studying. Find a space where you can do your work or studying, like a cafe, the outdoors, the library or a student centre, and make that your school space. Then, come home and have your dorm be your home space.

● Use a planner. Write down everything you need to do in a planner so you don’t miss any deadlines you thought you’d remember.

● Make a schedule. When you get to university, you’re completely in charge of your own schedule and it can fluctuate day to day. Remember that you’re in charge of your own schedule, so take accountability for keeping up with your routine and balancing all of your responsibilities.

● Rely on your friends. Motivate each other and push each other to work hard. You’re never alone on campus.

● Don’t feel guilty for prioritizing your school schedule. You are making sacrifices right now to give yourself the focus you need for a productive and successful future. If you have to stay up late or miss out on an event with your friends, don’t feel bad about it. They will understand.

For even more time management tips, check out our blog where we share 7 time management tips for busy students!

Emily Badin working hard to prioritize properly at UMD

Life Isn’t Going to Be Perfect

When Emily was in high school, she was constantly worrying about her schedule and taking her work very seriously. She says this is something she wishes she could have changed, because she didn’t let herself enjoy the time she had in high school without the responsibilities that come with a university student.

We asked her what she would say to her 15-year-old self if she could go back in time and give herself some advice. She told us she’d tell her younger self to lighten up and enjoy the ride.

Emily says, “I was very hard working and stressed over everything. And I think I definitely didn’t enjoy high school as much as I should have.” One day, you’re going to miss living at home and seeing your family every single day, and before you know it, those experiences become memories. Embrace them while you can and make sure you have your priorities in the right place. During high school, let yourself have fun and enjoy the experience as much as you can.

Her advice to all students in high school right now is: “When you’re fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen, you’re young. You’re supposed to make mistakes. You’re not going to be perfect.” If you are considering going to post-secondary education, you do have to take your classes and your grades seriously. But that doesn’t mean you can’t let yourself enjoy your life in the moment while you’re young. College will be there waiting for you. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun every now and then in the meantime.

That living in the moment attitude is something that has allowed Emily to really embrace the life she lives now and the time she has in university before she has to start focusing on her career – without sacrificing focus on her schoolwork, of course. Everything happens for a reason, and even those little moments are something you should never take for granted.

Emily Badin experiencing life while balancing student responsibilities

Living in The Moment

We often ask our student influencers to share their favourite college or university memories with us, and the answers are always very unique. For some, their best memory is a vacation or a one-of-a-kind bucket-list experience, and for others it’s something simple that gives them a new perspective on life. Emily’s favourite memory involves freshman year, a sleepy Monday sunset, and a game of volleyball.

A few weeks into Emily’s freshman year, she lived in a dorm that faced the volleyball courts. One Monday night, she and her friends randomly decided to go out and play volleyball as the sun set. They spent hours outside playing volleyball long after the sun went down, enjoying life and having a great time as new people continued to join the game.

She never really talked to some of the people she met that night again, but it’s exactly that fact that gave Emily so much perspective from one night of volleyball. It was at this time that she realized that friendships you make in university aren’t always going to be permanent – especially when students are coming from all over the country and the world to study for four years and then head home or on to bigger and better things. But knowing that those friendships aren’t permanent can help you enjoy them and have fun with people in the moment. Those temporary friendships, Emily realized, are often really fun and can give you valuable perspectives you never would have gained before. In just her first weeks of university alone, Emily says she interacted with more different people, and learned more things than she ever had before.

That’s a lesson we could all listen to. Don’t take those small moments for granted and see the value in everything you do, even if it’s something that’s not going to last permanently. You are in university to learn and grow as a person. Cherish your friendships, and be kind to everyone you meet because everyone has something they can teach you.

Emily loves taking on new adventures in her busy student life

Listen to the Full Podcast to Hear Emily’s Amazing Insights

On the full podcast, Emily dives into all of this and much more. She talks about getting out of a study funk, staying focused on your future, and she even shares her favourite tips to help you find your own self motivation and stick to it. What’s one of her favourite motivational quotes about life? Listen to the podcast and find out!

Listen to the full podcast here and start feeling inspired, or check it out on The Homework Help Show YouTube page, where you can watch the interview with our host and top writer, Lesley.

If you missed some of our other amazing interviews, you can catch up on past episodes of the Homework Help Show Student Influencers Podcast on Keep checking back for new episodes of The Homework Help Show Podcast Student Influencers Series! There are many more to come.


Lesley [00:00:03] Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Student Influencers podcast. My name is Lesley , and today we’re excited to have Emily here with us. So welcome, Emily. Thank you for joining us today.

Emily [00:00:16] Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.

Lesley [00:00:18] We’re excited to have you.

Emily [00:00:21] This is definitely my first interview, so I’m very excited for this.

Lesley [00:00:25] Yeah, we’re excited to hear what you have to say, too. So basically, we’re going to start with some kind of get to know you questions so we can begin with where are you currently located?

Emily [00:00:39] Well, I live in College Park, Maryland. My hometown is Baltimore County, but since I have an apartment near campus, I get to stay here. So even though we’re quarantining, I get to have my apartment.

Lesley [00:00:51] Right. Well, that must be- at least you have your own space, I guess. You don’t have to go home.

Emily [00:00:58] Yeah, it’s good and bad. Sometimes I miss it. But it is really nice to have your own space.

Lesley [00:01:03] Yeah, definitely. And I guess with all the technology we have now, it’s not like you can’t get in touch with people if you need to.

Emily [00:01:11] Oh, yeah. I mean, I still have my internship, so I’m able to do that online and I’m still doing classes. So it’s- it’s been pretty nice to kind of not have to leave your bed to go to class.

Lesley [00:01:23] Where’s your internship?

Emily [00:01:25] I work with Senator Jim Rosapepe for the nonprofit organization that he is the chair of. So it’s a Romanian American organization called Alianta.

Emily [00:01:36] And I work as an intern sending emails and trying to basically boost our mission. And it’s kind of hard now with COVID-19, but we’re doing our best.

Lesley [00:01:46] But you’re able to do some of that online?

Emily [00:01:48] Oh, yeah. Yeah. A lot of it is Zoom calls and a lot of phone interviews and lots of e-mails, so.

Lesley [00:01:56] Well, that’s awesome that you can still do that and you can still get that- those hours in. That sounds like a really great place to be doing your internship.

Emily [00:02:05] Yeah, it’s very good. I really enjoy it. He’s a really good person to work for. He knows lots of people. And he’s got great energy.

Lesley [00:02:15] That’s awesome. So that’s definitely a really good quality you want in someone to run an organization that’s just helped so many people.

Emily [00:02:24] Oh, yeah. Especially Romania. Some parts of it experience lots of poverty. So he’s really enthusiastic about a lot of the causes. And he used to be ambassador to Romania for the United States, so he’s got that experience. And I myself, I’m not Romanian, but I feel like I have this love for the country just doing the work.

Lesley [00:02:43] That’s amazing. That must make you feel really good too, being a part of something that’s so valuable. Yeah. Awesome. Where were you born?

Emily [00:02:56] No, I was actually born in California. My family is all from the West Coast. But then we moved to Maryland shortly when I was 2, and I’ve lived here ever since. So I guess you could say I have a little bit of the California vibes with family, but mostly on the East Coast.

Lesley [00:03:14] Are they- Do you still have family back out west?

Emily [00:03:18] Yes. The majority, I would say, are located in California, but we’re kind of sprinkled all over the country and we’ve got a little bit in Canada.

Lesley [00:03:26] Oh, yeah? That’s where our company is in Canada.

Emily [00:03:29] Oh, yeah?

Lesley [00:03:30] Yeah. Just in Toronto.

Emily [00:03:32] Oh, yeah. On the other side of Vancouver.

Lesley [00:03:35] Definitely further away. Yeah.

Lesley [00:03:38] But that’s awesome. So that’s nice to have family so sprinkled out like that. And then you have a lot of places to go and visit when you want, right?

Emily [00:03:45] My family’s a big fan of road trips, so I definitely have visited Ohio, we’ve gone to all the way to New Mexico, California.

Lesley [00:03:55] That’s amazing.

Emily [00:03:56] Yeah.

Lesley [00:03:56] That’s exciting. I kind of wish I had family all over the place like that, that I could go and visit and do road trips with, but they’re all in Canada.

Emily [00:04:06] Yeah, I mean that’s directly up north.

Lesley [00:04:10] So yeah, it’s a big place to go.

Lesley [00:04:15] So right now, what are you- so right now you’re just doing your internship and are you doing schooling right now too, or?

Emily [00:04:25] Yeah. So Maryland runs a little later into the spring. So we have classes just up until about May 17th, 18th. So I’ve been taking a couple online classes and I have my internship. And unfortunately, I don’t have my part-time job right now due to the outbreak that’s going on, but I would be doing that as well.

Lesley [00:04:49] That sounds like you’d be even- it sounds like you’re already pretty busy.

Emily [00:04:52] Yeah, it definitely forced me to slow down a little bit, which I guess I’m grateful for. But I do- I do miss always having things to do. It just makes time go by so much faster.

Lesley [00:05:03] That’s really true. I know a lot of people right now who are quarantined or locked down and they don’t have like part-time jobs or work from home capabilities, and a lot of people are just going getting really bored and stir crazy.

Emily [00:05:18] Yeah, I’ve definitely picked up a couple of hobbies because, you know, when your classes end, what else do I have to do? Sometimes the weather hasn’t really been that good. So I’m just trying to keep myself busy and trying to make the most of this time.

Lesley [00:05:34] Yeah, I think that’s the best approach to really do that because otherwise, you’re just going to get in that, you know, that funk that a lot of people are in right now and it’s very unfortunate.

Emily [00:05:43] And it’s hard. It’s hard for students when you get into a funk and you still have assignments. And, you know, sometimes I feel like there’s so many people who are being impacted by this. And I’m over here worrying about an essay. And you have to kind of remind yourself that, like, you’re doing this for a reason and this is all going to end eventually. But you’ve got to get those grades and you got to do what you need to do.

Lesley [00:06:03] Yeah, exactly. And you just gotta keep going and think positively, and that’s a really great outlook on that.

Emily [00:06:09] Yeah.

Lesley [00:06:10] So good for you.

Emily [00:06:10] Well, you know, I’m trying. We get into a funk sometimes.

Lesley [00:06:13] Everyone does. It happens to the best of us. So, I mean, you can’t really blame yourself for that. But it sounds like you’re making the most out of the whole pandemic quarantine situation.

Emily [00:06:24] Hopefully.

Lesley [00:06:26] Yeah. I mean, it always- it’s a day by day thing, too, right?

Emily [00:06:30] Yeah, it definitely is. There are some days where, you know, I wake up really early, get all my work done and then I still have energy to do some form of exercise, but then there’s other days where I have laid in bed for hours. Then, you know, by four o’clock, I’m like, all right, I need to do something today. But I think, yeah. One thing that I do try to keep in my mind is my mom told me, if you do one thing, if you just do one thing and you’re having a bad day, but just get one thing done and then hopefully tomorrow you can get another thing. And then by the end of the week you’ve gotten your list done.

Lesley [00:07:01] I think that’s a really, really great outlook too. You don’t have to be- you don’t have to be super productive, but even just doing one little thing can really make a difference and make you feel better, too.

Emily [00:07:13] Yeah. And I think a lot of students might feel bad about themselves for maybe not putting as much effort as we did when we would go to, you know, courses on campus or even in high school or, you know, even I guess middle schoolers might even feel it. But I think the most important part is that you gotta understand this is all bigger than us. And, you know, if you- if you just get something done, it’s better than nothing. And we don’t have to be so hard on each other, because, I mean, I’ve talked to business executives who were struggling to do things. And I know that not everyone’s response to this is going to be productive because everyone is kind of dealing with this on their own level.

Lesley [00:07:54] Yeah, definitely. That’s really true, too, and I saw- I saw it was, like, a social media post or something. It was someone had posted something like if you don’t come out of this quarantine with a new skill and a new this and a new that then you’ve wasted your time. And it was like, that’s really not the right approach right now. Like, you can’t just be putting people down for not being overly productive when everyone’s, you know, scared or anxious or worried.

Emily [00:08:26] Yeah. And I think a lot of that is, like, I’m personally- like, I’m pretty detached from the virus personally. I don’t know people who have gotten it, but there are people whose family members are in the hospital and they’re unable to see them. And a lot of… And like people with mental illness. I have anxiety pretty badly. So sometimes, you know, it’s hard for me to do things that I normally would have. And, you know, everyone is dealing with this their own way.

Emily [00:08:52] So I think just understanding that not everyone is going to be as happy about staying in their bedroom all day or staying at home. And, you know, for some people, it’s much more enjoyable for them given our circumstances, but I think it is important, especially for students to know that do the best you can and the whole world is changing from this and no one is really going to judge how you dealt with it after.

Lesley [00:09:17] Yeah, definitely. That’s some really great advice and I think a lot of people, a lot of students really need to hear that right now. So that’s super, super helpful for them. So on that note, with, you know, life lessons for students right now or maybe future students, what would you say makes university different from high school?

Emily [00:09:43] Oh, OK. I would say, from my personal experience in high school, everything is so rigid. You know, you- personally, like, I would wake up at 5:30 every morning. You go to school 7:20. It goes till 2:00, practice until 4:00, go home, homework. So everything is, every single day, it’s the same. And I would say in college there are, you know, you have classes two days a week, three days a week, sometimes one day a week, and then you have all that extra time. And so I think the difference in college is, especially if you go to a four-year, if you live on campus, that is your home. So sometimes what I found during my first year was separating home from school was a little difficult. And I found that, you know, I would be in my dorm room sitting at my desk doing work for hours and hours. And you have to sometimes separate, like- what I did basically is find a space. A cafe, outside, a library, somewhere where you can do work and have that be your school, and then you go back or you go home or wherever it is that you’re staying and you have that be your home space. I think separating work and home is really important for just your mental clarity. And, you know, I could never do work sitting in my bed because that’s like your relaxation space. You sleep right. You need that space to decompress. So I think it’s really important just the separation between high school and college is- you know, you don’t go anywhere. You’re on campus a lot, or like if you’re not on campus, you’re commuting and you need to have that separation.

Lesley [00:11:17] Right. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I think right now too, ’cause a lot of students are doing those- doing online lectures and classes. And I think that’s a big thing that people need to kind of keep in mind, too. Of course, if you’re- if you’re doing an online class at home, you can’t really just get up and go to the library. But you can try to make do with what you have and try to find a space that you just associate just with studying or just with doing schoolwork.

Emily [00:11:47] And that’s something that I’ve been struggling with. I, like I just said, I personally, I can’t do work in my room. I see my room as my relaxation space. And like I decorated it to where it’s like something that makes me happy. And so what I’ve been trying to do is, I mean, my apartment is pretty small, but, you know, on the couch by the chair or at the dinner table just to get some sort of like difference in what I’m seeing. And then hopefully when the weather lightens up, go outside and try and just change the scenery a little bit, I think is important. But I think that, especially when you transition from high school to college is having a schedule that’s not rigid and one that you are in charge of. And no one else is in charge of. It’s something that’s really important that you manage well. I know a couple of people that just- they weren’t able to adjust and time manage. And they suffer from it. So I think having good time management skills and knowing, okay, this is serious time, this is play time, can really make the difference, especially now. It’s hard, all the days meshed together like the days go by so quickly. So I think having a schedule is really helpful.

Lesley [00:13:00] Yeah. Because there’s that accountability factor more in university than it is in high school where if you fail, it’s your, you know, that’s on you.

Emily [00:13:12] That’s your money.

Lesley [00:13:13] Yeah.

Emily [00:13:13] Like, classes are expensive. I think a couple of the ones that I was taking are like between three hundred and five dollars each – five hundred dollars each- and you pay for textbooks. You got to pay for, sometimes, readings and, you know, if you aren’t able to do well then it’s not like high school where it’s like, “oh I’ll just retake it.” It’s like you retake it, that’s more money. But I think knowing that college is like, “oh, this is real time.” In high school, it’s still real, but it’s more prep. It’s like you prep for high school, but this is definitely more of what you’re doing now is really going to set you up for the future.

Lesley [00:13:48] Right. Yeah, that’s really important to remember. On a more positive note, what is your favourite university memory so far?

Emily [00:13:59] I would have to say that there was, I think it was the third or fourth week of my freshman year, my dorm faced the outdoor volleyball courts and the sun was going down. And a couple of my friends and I were like, “let’s go play volleyball.” And it was like a Monday night. But in college, like weeks and the days don’t really- they’re very different. You know, we were outside playing for hours, like the sun went down and everyone was having a good time. And I think that was a really fun part because I was playing with people that I’d never talk to before. And people like on your floor, you get really close with. But it was so interesting because those people I never really talked with again. But I think that’s the fun part of college is that you meet so many people that most times your relationships aren’t going to be permanent. But what they are is really fun. You know, I play for a night or two. You have work friends, you have class friends that, you know, you might see in another class, but if not, they were good for that time. And I think it’s just fun to meet so many different people.

Lesley [00:15:02] Yeah. And those people may, may be people you might have never even said hi to in the halls in high school, right?

Emily [00:15:11] Exactly. They’re people that, you know, I mean, I had a bunch of different friends in high school. But then you see, your friend group dwindles and it gets really small as you get older. And that’s something that I’m experiencing now. But I think it was really fun because the first couple weeks and months of college, I interacted with more different people and learned more things than I ever had. And I think that’s so valuable because you just learn so many things that you didn’t even know. And I just think I really appreciated that.

Lesley [00:15:38] Yeah. That’s amazing. That’s- that’s probably one of the best advantages about college and university, I think for a lot of people is just everyone you meet has an opportunity to, you know, teach you something or give you some kind of outlook on life that you may have never realized before. And it’s just so much more open.

Emily [00:15:59] Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, I love- and especially Marlyand. I mean, we’re a huge school. What? Forty thousand undergrads. So we’ve got tons of people on campus. And you know, whether… I mean, I’ve had classes that are like fourteen people and then I’ve had classes that are like three hundred and fifty. So it definitely varies. But I think just like the people you meet in classes, outside of class, and then you find yourself seeing the same people on campus. And I just think it’s a really valuable thing to know.

Lesley [00:16:29] Yeah, no, I would have to agree with you there. That makes you feel more warm and welcomed. It gives you a more enjoyable experience out of the whole university life experience.

Emily [00:16:40] Yes, it really does. It makes kind of like a big university feel a little bit smaller.

Lesley [00:16:46] Yeah. And that’s sometimes a really good thing because it just feels like a home. Instead of just studying.

Emily [00:16:54] Yeah. I mean, I like to think- so, I’m in the School of Public Policy at Maryland. I’m hoping to go into possibly government work or non-profits. But hopefully environmental policy. But my school has three hundred people in it and that’s within the university. So I feel like I get the best of both worlds where I go to a huge college, but at the end of the day, my professors know me by name.

Lesley [00:17:19] Right.

Emily [00:17:20] So I think that’s something that I really, really enjoy at Maryland and that I think if students are looking for majors and they’re torn between going to a really small school or really big one, like just play around with it and look around to see like, how big is your school or like, what are the professors like? Because, at the end of the day, you can go anywhere. But the connections you make with professors and having them know you and able to write you letters and to talk really well about you when you’re not around is so much more important.

Lesley [00:17:50] And those reference letters and recommendations and stuff is important, too, from professors, especially if you want to- even if it’s not about getting a job, but it’s about maybe going to a graduate program or PhD program. You- you need professors to give you references so you may as well make those connections.

Emily [00:18:11] Yeah, I’ve had to ask my professors so many times for letters, for even scholarships for, you know, other programs at the university. You know, maybe jobs, maybe internships. But pretty much everything you’re going to have to apply for requires a letter of recommendation. It’s really nice when you talk to your professors and you get to know them and when they can say, oh, that girl is whoever or like whatever, it’s nice to know that they actually know who you are.

Lesley [00:18:37] Yeah. And they- they’re willing to- they obviously believe in you enough that they’re willing to write you that recommendation letter.

Emily [00:18:43] Yeah.

Lesley [00:18:44] That’s a big confidence booster, too.

Emily [00:18:46] Yes. Yeah. It’s, it helps.

Lesley [00:18:49] Yeah, definitely. What about any struggles or challenges that you faced as a student? I know we were talking about the time management aspect of university and having to be accountable for yourself. But are there any other kind of struggles or challenges that you faced as a university student so far?

Emily [00:19:08] Other than the big one, which I would say is sometimes financially. College is very expensive, no matter who you are. So I think I’ve definitely had to put in a decent number of hours at work, which is it’s rewarding in itself. And I love my job. But I would say the biggest challenge is during midterms and finals week, you really start to get down on yourself because you’re- you’re putting in hours, you’re studying sometimes really late, sometimes really early. Over and over the same information. And I think the biggest challenge with that is more of a mental challenge, especially as you get towards the end of midterm week where it’s your last exam and you’re already tired and you’ve already done so much and you feel like your brain can’t consume any more information. But you just, you push, you push and then you finish. And I think one way that I’ve really helped with that is get a planner and just write everything down. Plan everything, because knowing what you have to do and writing it down can make all the difference. I have forgotten a couple of assignments because, at the time, I remembered them. And then a couple hours later, when it’s 11:30, and they’re due at midnight, and I’m like, oh, my gosh, I did not turn that in. So I think definitely the biggest challenge is college is not easy and your classes- some might be more easy, but generally they’re challenging and they do challenge you. But I think it’s important to go into them knowing that they’re difficult. You know, you don’t take Econ 200, which has a pretty big fail rate, and go into that thinking, “I’m going to ace it. I’m gonna do well.” You go into it knowing that, and then you put in the work. And I remember at some point someone told me, like people think work is a bad word, but it’s like, no, you put in the work and you get the results. And so I think just to reiterate, just the biggest challenge is putting in the time. And once you’ve put in the time, finishing strong. There is definitely something that I’ve gotten down about myself with, then I’ve seen my friends and you just have to keep motivating each other and pushing each other. And then at the end of the semester, like, oh, my gosh, the relief when everything is done. It’s so nice.

Lesley [00:21:29] Then you just get to have a break and rest.

Emily [00:21:32] Yes. Yeah.

Lesley [00:21:34] Yeah. And I think the harder you work, the more relaxing that break is really going to be and the more valuable, right?

Emily [00:21:40] My gosh. Yeah. Yeah. And then just add onto that. I think sometimes the biggest challenge is only in the first semester when you’re transitioning from high school to college.

Lesley [00:21:53] Right.

Emily [00:21:54] Luckily, I went to a really- I went to a really good high school in the way that they prepared us very well for college. And the work was really rigorous in high school. So my transition was a little more smooth, but I definitely had to help some friends out when they were struggling. And just like the course load and the amount of writing, I think I would recommend people to touch up on grammar and writing before they come to college because that is a huge thing.

Lesley [00:22:22] Right.

Emily [00:22:23] Yeah. You’re definitely going to be writing so much more than you ever have. But I think that’s just, the transition is probably the most difficult.

Lesley [00:22:31] Yeah. That little jump in, it takes a lot of getting used to, especially if you were like a certain type of person in high school. And I know for a lot of people, it’s people who get away with doing things at the last minute in high school or not doing anything and just skating by. And then they get to university and they’re in this kind of culture shock almost.

Emily [00:22:51] Yes. The floaters. Yeah. You definitely cannot float your way through college. You have to put in the time. I would say that.

Lesley [00:22:58] Yeah, I think that was a really good point that you brought up too, about how a lot of people think that work is a negative word, but it’s not. It’s something that- it’s the effort you put into something. And I think that’s a really good way to think about that, is that people, you know, people- even, even when it’s not about school work, when it’s just about work, people are just like so grudgingly, like, all right. Well, I gotta work. I’ve gotta work. But people should be looking at it as a way of, “I’m doing my part. I’m working really hard. And I’m going to earn whatever comes to me.”

Emily [00:23:34] Yeah. I mean, I like to make a point or to say something. And, you know, they’re reading my papers and they can tell that I’ve read the material, which is a big thing. Lots of kids don’t read. Then I think it really does make a difference because first of all, you’re getting more out of the class. And, you know, these classes are supposed to prepare you for work. And so if you’re just getting the grades that you need and you’re not really taking anything out of it, then you’re going to be less prepared when you apply for a job because you’re not really utilizing that material. And, you know, if you take pride in your work and you put effort into it, you’re going to be such a more well-rounded person because you’re just going to have that background and you’re going to have that backbone of, “I’m going to do this work, not because I need to and it’s annoying, but because I want to, because it gets me to that next level.” And I think when I was in high school, for me, that next level was college. You know, I didn’t want to read thirty chapters of my AP biology book, but I did because that was the knowledge I needed to get those credits to then graduate.

Lesley [00:24:34] Right. Yeah. And I think it’s looking at- looking at that bigger picture is really important way there, too, right? Yeah.

Emily [00:24:43] It can be difficult sometimes when you’re, you know, bogged down in your textbook to think like, “Oh, this is so annoying, why am I doing this?” But, you know, why are you there? Why are you at the school? Why this school in particular? And it’s because at the end of the day, you want something higher and you want something that’s going to benefit you and maybe your family and maybe someone else that you know or even yourself. I think doing work for yourself is really important.

Lesley [00:25:07] Yeah, that’s really important because otherwise what are you doing? And you’re doing everything when you’re at school or you’re at university, you’re doing it to further your own career or your own life. Right. So, yeah, at the end of the day, you’re doing it for you. I think that’s a lot of people probably don’t remember that or maybe they don’t think about that regularly. So that’s…

Emily [00:25:31] Yeah, it’s definitely hard to remember that all the time.

Lesley [00:25:37] That brings me to my next question, which is so for those looking to go to college or university. Would you say that it’s beneficial? Or, you know, is it worth it?

Emily [00:25:52] I think it would depend on what your long term goal is. I’ve known people, two of my uncles who’ve gone to two years of community college and then transferred and that is something that I think is pretty important. If money is an issue or if you’re just not ready with your major, you don’t know what you want to do because the first two years are just gen-eds usually. So I think if if you’re kind of unsure of what you want to do, but you know, you might want to go to college, try community college. And then I know some people in my family, it just hasn’t been for them. So maybe a trade school. But I think if you’re interested in something where you see yourself needing an education, I would say college is definitely beneficial, especially if you have a passion or you have something that you think, you know, even if it’s just a degree in, you know, you can get like communications, business, something that could give you a skill so that all of the possibilities open up to you.

Lesley [00:26:58] Right.

Emily [00:26:59] I know myself personally, my major is a bit more broad. I didn’t go with government politics and I didn’t go with, like, political science. I wanted public policy so I could do nonprofits or I could do government or I could do private organizations or even go to law school. So, I mean, I don’t really know exactly where my path is taking me yet, but I wanted to make sure I gave myself options. And, you know, growing up, that’s something my dad used to stress all the time is, you know, he didn’t go to college and he didn’t do that. But the biggest thing is give yourself options because, you know, 10, 20 years from now, I don’t know where I’ll be, but I’ll know that I’ll have those steps where I have a platform now.

Lesley [00:27:39] You built yourself a foundation.

Emily [00:27:40] Exactly.

Lesley [00:27:41] You obviously have a clear idea of what you want to do or which kind of part- which kind of field you want to be in.

Emily [00:27:49] So yeah, yeah, yeah. I think if you have an idea, then use that idea to give yourself more options. And if you are unsure, I would say, you know, if you’re in high school and you don’t really know if you want to go to college yet or if college is feasible. There are people who will help you make it happen no matter what. I know my guidance counselor did an amazing job and she gave me so many, like she gave me access. And I think that’s the biggest thing. She gave me access to scholarships. You know, they had them all printed out. And I applied for any one that I could. Like any possible scholarship. Yeah. She gave me information and she gave me the motivation. And I think those three things are really important for high schoolers who were kind of unsure and they don’t really know if they can.

Lesley [00:28:37] Right. Yeah, because it’s, I mean, it’s a big investment to take if you don’t think it’s gonna be right for you.

Emily [00:28:44] Yeah. And, you know, it’s intimidating. Even applications have fees. So it’s really intimidating for a lot of students. But I think going back to like putting in the work, if you really are committed and it’s something that you think would be beneficial, then I really do recommend it.

Lesley [00:28:59] Yeah. Awesome. So going back to when we were talking about, you know, those stressful finals weeks and test anxiety, how much time do you think that you actually do spend studying?

Emily [00:29:11] My goodness. How much time? Okay. So I would say if it’s a regular week and there’s no exams, schoolwork probably takes me between two and four hours a day. And I’m putting in readings, I’m doing assignments, things like that. If it’s a midterm or finals week, then I really amp the studying up. And that’s between six and ten a day. I’ll be in the library. Yeah, in between classes. Weekends. Just studying time so that- it can be difficult. And I think coffee was definitely something I was relying on. And, you know, I’m off that now because there’s no reason to at home right yet. Lots of coffee got me through very long days. But I think that’s part of the reason you’re able to sit there and study for all day. You have a plan. You know, I go there and you be like the first two hours I’m doing ecosystems or the second two hours I’m doing writing or reading or whatever it is. And then, you know, give yourself- I’d go to the library and then I would give myself a break, go down, get a snack, go back up and keep going. Or if you get really boggled down, take a walk and then come back down. Couple of deep breaths. But I was, I was putting in a lot of hours, but you gotta think the amount of time you put in is equivalent to what you get on the exams.

Lesley [00:30:36] Right.

Emily [00:30:36] So I have no regrets about those long days. I remember I would leave the library and call my dad and he’d be like, “What are you up to?” and I’m like, “Just walking back, I’m dead.” Sometimes you’ve got to do what you gotta do.

Lesley [00:30:49] And if you, if you look back, like when you look back on that all that studying when you look back like, I don’t know, 10, 5, 10 years later, that’s just a little portion of your life that you spent that you sacrifice.

Emily [00:31:02] Oh, yeah.

Lesley [00:31:02] The big payoff.

Emily [00:31:05] Yeah. Like I might have you know, I’ve missed a football game or two or some event because I guess busy studying. But I mean, I’ve you know, you get an A on an exam that’s really hard. And if you do that in the beginning of the semester, well, gosh, you’re set up for the rest of the semester because you’ve gotten that high grade. And I think if I was gonna give some advice, I would definitely say study hard in the beginning. If anything like you got that motivation, set yourself up well. And then when it comes finals week and you’re you really tired and you’ve got all of this due, you don’t have to get so high to get the grade you need.

Lesley [00:31:38] Right. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think that’s really good advice for any kind of student, really, no matter what you’re studying.

Emily [00:31:47] Yeah. Yeah, definitely can say that it’s, ah, college is a roller coaster and the motivation goes down, but you gotta keep pushing it up, so I like to start strong and see what I can do. Circumstances permitting. I mean now it’s a little difficult, but I think that example of you just have to keep pushing. Lots of schools are almost done and we’re about to enter May and this is really the final push.

Lesley [00:32:13] Yeah, because a lot of people everything is still like just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s you know, I think that a lot of people could probably fall into that trap of thinking of not taking those classes so seriously just because they’re online. But a lot of people, I think, need to realize it’s kind of- it’s it’s still an important- it’s still a major part of your degree.

Emily [00:32:37] Yeah, yeah, I would agree with that. I mean, sometimes I can find myself slipping a little bit and, you know, the effort slips a little. But I think definitely just reminding myself of these are still important. You still need to get this done. And then like I said, we’re in May. Colleges are finishing up now. So a lot of people are in finals. And this is really the time to kick it into overdrive and get what you need to get.

Lesley [00:33:02] Yeah, definitely. If you could go back and talk to your 15-year-old self, what would you say?

Emily [00:33:11] Oh, my gosh. When I was 15. I think I would say, well, OK. So me personally, I’ve always been more on the anxious side of like, oh, I have to be very serious. I’ve always been very serious with my work because, you know, I really wanted to go to college and I wanted to get into a good school. So from the time I enjoyed high school, I was just work, work, work. And, you know, I joined clubs, I did sports, I did all of that. But I think if I could go back and tell myself something, it would be to just have a little fun now and then. You know, like balance it out. But you’d be surprised at how important like SAT and essays are over grades. And, you know, if you get a bad grade, it’s not the end of the world. It really isn’t. And you can still get into a great school and you can still do what you need to do and not have to stress over it. And I think the biggest thing would be that, you know, you’re fifteen or sixteen or seventeen, you’re young, you’re supposed to make mistakes, like you’re not going to be perfect. And I think if you are looking at like a higher education then if you are going to stress over things, you know, maybe you would be your essay. Maybe it’s your SAT. But I think a mistake I made was I was very hard working and stressful over everything. And I think I definitely didn’t enjoy high school as much as I could have. You know, granted, everything happens for a reason or I’m here the way I am now. But I think if one advice would be to enjoy those years that you have while you live with your parents, while you’re with your siblings or whoever it is that you live with, and then don’t, don’t rush for college because it’s gonna be there. It’s been there. And once you get there, you know, I don’t live at home anymore. Sometimes I miss my family. But I think it’s important to enjoy your youth while also taking it seriously.

Lesley [00:35:00] So enjoy. Enjoy your current- where you are now, and just enjoy the moment as much as you can.

Emily [00:35:08] Yeah.

Lesley [00:35:08] That’s really, I think that’s probably something everybody, no matter how old you are, I think everyone should, you know, kind of should be more- should think about that more often.

Emily [00:35:21] Yeah. I mean, I try to now. I’m trying to live in the moment. But, you know, sometimes it’s difficult. You do the best you can.

Lesley [00:35:27] Of course. So what are your current short term and long term goals? I know you said that you were obviously you’re finishing up your program and your internship and stuff. So what is your, what are those goals right now and what does that look like?

Emily [00:35:48] Right. So I guess the short term goal would be I just I secured a summer job, which was like all think, gosh, especially during this time, but finish that out. And then, you know, I’m always looking, what’s the next semester? So next semester, gotta find internships, do something like that. But I think long term, I am currently working on applying to get a joint master’s and bachelor’s degree. So that’s a program where I need to, like I said, secure reference letters and send in a bunch of information and then hopefully graduate with a bachelors and masters before I’m twenty-two. So that would be that would be helpful.

Lesley [00:36:32] Right. What program would that be? The Masters-bachelor’s.

Emily [00:36:37] So my bachelor’s is in public policy with a specialization in sustainability and my masters would also be in public policy. That’d be more focused on environmental policy. So I’m getting that general bachelor’s degree with a little minor and then I’m getting a more focused graduate degree so that hopefully I can enter the industry with like, OK, I’ve got this in this background and I’m you know, I have this knowledge from all my internships and hopefully, like I said, give myself a good foundation.

Lesley [00:37:05] That’s awesome. I think that’s really useful right now. I think that, you know, sustainability and environmental. Environmental consciousness, I guess, is the word. But I think that’s a really important part of government policy everywhere today. And I mean, if if you if you are a government, you don’t have some kind of sustainability platform, I think that you’re really lacking a conversation that needs to be had.

Emily [00:37:35] And yeah, I agree, especially in our country, like well you’re in Canada. But the United States is, we’re a very diverse country. And yeah, it’s like economic disparities and we have racial disparities right now. And you can link back a lot of issues to the environment. And there’s, you know, environmental justice and there’s a lot of issues where different communities are being impacted by things that I couldn’t even think of. So I think going into more environmental work in our government is really important, not even for us, but for the whole world. You know, it’s something that everyone shares. And I think by not having a good foundation and environmental studies with people who are running the country, I think that’s just setting not only our country up for failure, but everyone else, because these are pressing issues.

Lesley [00:38:26] And the US is such a powerful country, too, right?

Emily [00:38:29] So, yeah, so much influence. I feel like if we took control and we really put a good foot forward, a lot of other countries would respect it and would join in.

Lesley [00:38:39] And set a really positive example.

Emily [00:38:42] Yeah.

Lesley [00:38:43] That’s awesome. That sounds like you’re going to do a lot of great things.

Emily [00:38:47] I hope so. I hope so. I hope. Yeah.

Lesley [00:38:52] We’ll have to check back with you in like five years and see where you’re at.

Emily [00:38:56] Yeah, give me a couple years. Let me get to work.

Lesley [00:38:59] Let’s say 10 years.

Emily [00:39:01] Yeah.

Lesley [00:39:01] And then we’ll see where you are. So. What is… Do you have any favorite motivational quotes or sayings or anything? I know you mentioned some already. Like about work and yeah. Do you have anything else that you want to add?

Emily [00:39:23] Yeah, I think I have. So there’s one that I heard a while ago. It’s by Eleanor Roosevelt. No one can make you inferior without your consent. I think that is a huge thing, not only for students who might be intimidated by the college process. And, you know, if no matter where you come from. If you are into that school, you belong at that school period. There’s no one who can make you feel like you don’t belong where you got accepted. And I think it’s important that, you know, if you’re in higher-level courses, if you’re engaging with very- like, if you have internships or jobs with political figures and they’re very intimidating. But you have to remember that at one point everyone was where you were and you can’t get to where that is without being where you are. So like something I have to remind myself when I’m talking to people that scare the heck out of me is that they are also, you know, at one point they were probably intimidated. And it’s important to just know that you belong there. And like, you were chosen for a reason. And do the work you need to do.

Lesley [00:40:31] I think that’s very humbling, too. And I think it’s a good thing to remember, especially in an industry like like what you’re in, where you’re talking to all these, you’re probably talking to organization leaders or, you know, important politicians and people who are you know, you’re probably looking at them like you’ve got you have a lot of power. And yeah, scary. But yeah, they were not always like that.

Emily [00:40:56] And I think especially as women entering positions of power and leadership, especially in the government, wherever that may be, you know, you don’t have to prove that you belong there to belong there. And I think sometimes I’ll be on calls where everyone is is a very powerful male. And I’m 20 years old and an intern. And, you know, I have to remind myself that I don’t need to prove that I belong on this call to take notes and things like that. And I’ve seen other very strong women political figures. And, you know, they they do what- they’re very serious and they get what they need to get done. And some of them are scrutinized for that. But I think it’s important because, you know, as a woman entering the world of public policy, you need to know you belong before you even make it in. Like you have to have you have to be confident in yourself. And I think that’s something that I’m still learning, because sometimes I get very intimidated. But I’m working on it. You know, every time I engage with someone, I’m working on it and knowing that what I’m doing, I care about and other people should care about it, too.

Lesley [00:42:03] That’s awesome. I think that’s very inspiring for a lot of people. And I think that will really inspire a lot of our listeners. So thank you for sharing that. Yeah, I just had one last question and it’s more of a fun question and it’s something we usually end with with their interviews. What is your favorite social media platform and why?

Emily [00:42:27] Twitter. I love Twitter for the memes. Yeah, yeah, I will sit there, scroll on the memes, send them to my boyfriend, send them to my friends. I love the memes. They’re so funny.

Lesley [00:42:36] That’s so funny. Because most of the time, when we ask that question, we always get like, you know, Instagram or your Snapchat.

Emily [00:42:47] Maybe it’s I don’t know. I love Twitter. It’s also funny ’cause I follow some of my high school teachers on there. And they they are amazing. I love them. So they post the really funny stuff. But yeah, definitely Twitter. I love that. I love that app.

Lesley [00:43:02] Well. I mean, you’re in- you’re in government and policy and stuff like that. You know, a lot of people who use Twitter are politicians and like media figures and stuff like that. So.

Emily [00:43:13] That’s yeah, that’s definitely an interesting switch. Politicians on Twitter. But I mean, hey, they have funny content sometimes, so.

Lesley [00:43:22] And it’s easily digestible. You can just scroll through and look at it really quickly. You need to read through, you know, annoying Facebook updates.

Emily [00:43:32] Oh, yeah. Fifty-two characters or less. Yep.

Lesley [00:43:35] Short and sweet to the point. I like it. I like that. Do you have anything else that you wanted to add before we kind of wrap things up?

Emily [00:43:45] I think if I were just gonna say one thing to wrap everything up, it would be sometimes when you’re in college, you might feel guilty for not going home as often or for not reaching out to your friends or even during quarantine. I know some people haven’t really been, you know, texting a lot or hanging out with their friends, obviously. But I think college is where, you know, my uncle told me that you’re making sacrifices right now, but so is your family, so that everyone can benefit later. And I think it’s important to, you know, do what you need to do in college, study work, but don’t feel guilty about, you know, maybe not texting your parents as much or maybe not, you know. I have two brothers, so sometimes I feel guilty about not calling them or texting them. But they know I’m busy and they know that I’m working hard. And so I think, if- one thing I could say is don’t feel guilty for pursuing your degree and doing any means necessary. Don’t feel bad for staying up late and not responding to something that you might want to or don’t feel bad for missing a call if you’re busy, because at the end of the day, when you’re graduating and getting your degree, it’s going to benefit your whole community, not just you.

Lesley [00:45:04] Right. Yeah, I think that’s something definitely to remember. And also too, just because you’re not talking to- just because you’re maybe a little distant or not communicating too often with family doesn’t mean that you’re not there for them. And if they, they will always know that you will still be there if they do need something from you.

Emily [00:45:25] Yeah. I mean, I think about everyone all the time. Just sometimes I’m like, oh, I have 17 things to do. I don’t really have the time to- to reach out. But yeah, I think that’s an important thing to remember.

Lesley [00:45:37] Definitely. Well, thank you for sharing that. So I think that pretty much wraps it up. I want to thank you so much for joining me today and sharing all of those amazing insights with our.

Emily [00:45:49] Thank you so much. I… It was a pleasure to be on this side of… Like I said, I really enjoyed doing this interview and hopefully giving good advice.

Lesley [00:46:00] I think it’s gonna be really, really valuable to anybody. I don’t even think if you’re- you don’t even have to be a student to really gain a lot of insight from that. So we really appreciate that. And we appreciate you making the time to talk to us. We’ll keep in touch with you and maybe we’ll talk to you a little later down the road and see where you’re at. And who knows? It’s worked out for you.

Emily [00:46:24] Who knows? That would be really nice. All right. Well, thank you so much for having me.

Lesley [00:46:29] You take care. Stay safe. Hopefully this will be all over soon.

Emily [00:46:33] Yeah, OK. Thank you.

Lesley [00:46:36] Thank you. Bye.

Emily [00:46:37] Bye.