Life in the Fast Lane


Six Years Earlier, Six Years Later

By 12:15 PM , , , ,

Six years ago, roughly around this time, I faced sleepless nights. I remember cramming. I remember intensely preparing for what I thought would be the one day that would make or break me: my thesis defense.

Because six years ago, I was a university senior — optimistic, still rather carefree, excited and ready to take on the world. But I was also a thousand percent shyer, more timid than I am today. The prospect of getting up in front of an audience to explain and defend what I worked on freaked me out constantly. Finally, on D ("Defense") Day, I put on my smartest clothes, pored over my notes for the hundredth time, went over our group's Powerpoint presentation in case we missed out on something, got our panelists each an Americano from Starbucks (hey, it put them at ease within the first ten seconds of the defense) and attempted to wing it. And wing it we did.

Six years later, I am no longer in the academic setting. Gone is the discipline of going over pages upon pages of academic readings, sitting still for hours to listen to a professor drone on and on, and most of all, gone is the actual skill needed to memorize facts, figures, and important information. Now all I do is absorb the latest newsworthy event from Twitter, YouTube or Facebook, and come up with [hopefully] clever stories and scripts that eventually become the ads you see on TV, virally, around the metropolis, in magazines and newspapers, or hear on the airwaves.

But for some reason, just recently, I received a phone call by the same person who mentored me during my thesis days six years ago. This time, the tables were turned. Now I am one of the panelists for an upcoming thesis defense. Now I am the so-called "advertising professional" who's had a bunch of experiences (both in terms of the advertising industry and life in general) tucked under her belt. Now I am the one who has to go over a hundred pages of citations, findings, research and conclusions. Now I am the one who has to sit tight for an hour or so and listen to students prattle on about their work.

Now I am the one who gets to ask them questions.

I've already gone through the thesis and at the moment, I can't think of anything to ask them just yet. I guess it's because I am an impulsive person by nature; something will probably hit me during the defense itself. But what I do know right now is this: I don't plan on being that "terror panelist" students fear. I know how it feels like to stand in front of people older, wiser, more experienced than you and try to get them to accept what you're saying. After all, my own defense did take place just six years ago.

However, I do know that I want to make them think.

I may no longer be in the academic setting. The media theories and social studies principles that I once studied are now foreign concepts that need serious brushing up on. But what I do have now is six years' worth of industry experiences. And these are what will hopefully ground the principles that this thesis is based on.

So, good luck to the students I'll be "paneling" for. We've yet to meet but already, I feel this connection to you somehow.

Good luck to me, too. I hope that I ask the right questions and give the right feedback so that the school won't regret getting me as a panelist. (*insert sheepish laughter*)

Time really does fly. That's all I can say.

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