When I made the decision last fall to fill out the application for the SULA program, some of my family and friends questioned why I was deciding to spend my last semester of college off campus. It would seem like, as a senior, I would want to enjoy my last weeks in school at school, the place where I had already spent so much of my life at. Admittedly, I do miss the campus environment and the camaraderie that comes with being a part of a school that has as much pride as Syracuse University; however, I can’t say I regret the decision in the slightest.
The reality is, this is the most important semester for me. In just over a month, I will be walking across the stage, accepting my diploma and officially be moving on from a chapter in my life that has been consumed by school. Seventeen years of my life I’ve been in school! That’s a long time! It’s going to be strange when it all ends, but getting myself out here to Los Angeles, where the industry I’m seeking to work in thrives, has put me more at ease.
If you’ve ever done the SULA program or have any interest in it, they aren’t kidding when they say it’s a career-oriented experience. Unlike most off-campus academic programs, which are largely culturally-oriented, SULA is meant for students to get their foot in the door to what is a highly competitive industry. I feel like everyday I am “networking,” or rather connecting with industry professionals. Whether in a professional environment, or during a night out, I am constantly introducing myself to new people who share my interest in television and film. It’s exhilarating and one of the benefits of this program. As an East coast native, I was concerned with just picking my things up and moving out here come summertime. Now, I feel confident that I won’t be alone. Not only do I have friends living out here who have recently graduated, but through my internship experience and other events coordinated by the SULA program, I have connected with many people who I’d now feel comfortable with reaching out to if I ever needed help.
In addition to connecting with people, I am familiarizing myself with the Los Angeles geography—which is not easy to maneuver. My peers and I have made our way all around the city, hitting Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Malibu, Laguna Beach, Hollywood, and more all in just a few months. Time has flown as a result, but I feel more comfortable with the landscape now. When I get out here, whenever that is in the near future, I have a rough idea of where I should be apartment hunting and where I should be looking for a job.
More important than any of this, though, is that this last semester has been an absolute blast. I never went abroad during my four years at school, but I knew from friends who had that those experiences are marked by lasting friendship. I can say with confidence that the people I have met out here and spent so much time with will definitely be friends to keep. It’s great because we all have common interests, but even more so, everyone here is driven. We wouldn’t be out here if we weren’t. Being surrounded by motivated men and women my age is so encouraging and has led to some really great relationships.
I am beyond thankful to have the opportunity to be studying what I love in Los Angeles. And I am one hundred percent happy to be here my last semester of school.