Until fairly recently, I had no idea what direction I wanted to go in life. Like many college students, I felt lost, fearing I would never find a major that suited me.

Finally, in my sophomore year, I decided to double major in writing & rhetoric and communications. Questioning what I would do with this degree, one idea kept circling my head: working in the music industry. After researching and giving the idea more thought, I came to discover that this was a major possibility.

I pursued these options, and in the end was generously offered a summer internship at SideOneDummy Records, an indie record label in Hollywood, California. Given the extent of this offer, I had never considered an opportunity like this to be within reach. But fortunately, I was wrong. Throughout the rest of the year, I planned the trip, and on June 7 I nervously took a plane alone to LA.

On my first day, I walked into SideOneDummy and was amazed by the plaques and awards that lined the walls. I was greeted by new, friendly faces who gave me a tour of the label, finishing the tour at my new office, where I would be working with the director of publicity and promotions for the next three months.

One of my first assignments was to make a playlist for one of the label’s social media accounts. I was thrilled to be given this responsibility and I carefully drafted the playlist, knowing it would be public for anybody to see. As time progressed, I received larger assignments that impacted the label. I wrote updates for their website’s news blog, created clever tweets for their Twitter account, took control of their Tumblr account to help boost traffic, pitched upcoming shows and releases to potential reviewers and interviewers and even had the chance to model some merchandise for their website. Knowing I was working to spread the word about these talented artists was a satisfying feeling, and I was proud to be able to represent each of them.

While working at SideOneDummy, I learned valuable knowledge and gained experience that you can’t get from classroom lessons and assignments. I furthered my knowledge with promotion work and was able to do things I never thought were possible. I went on bands’ tour buses, met and talked with incredible artists and learned some of the ins-and-outs of the music industry.

There are a lot of persistent issues labels face that I had never considered, such as having to fight against leaked albums, competition with streaming websites and utilizing social media to its full extent. I gained a lot of insight about some techniques on how to counteract these problems. Additionally, this opportunity taught me how to market myself and maintain relationships with new connections, understanding that I need to remain professional even when meeting musicians and artists.

I still get excited now thinking about all that I was able to accomplish over the summer. By 19, I was able to proudly say I had moved into my first apartment alone in a new city. For three months I managed to live on my own without my friends, family or car. I was extremely scared to start this venture alone, but in the end I accomplished what I set out to do and thrived at it. I have since gained the confidence to keep going and work harder.

I was given such an amazing opportunity that I will always be grateful for, knowing that having an experience like this on my resume could give me an edge over other potential candidates. I learned that you should never discount what you are capable of, and understand that, in time, things will work out as long as you put in the necessary effort. If you have a goal in mind, no matter how extreme you think it is, it can be done. You just need to be willing to take that risk and be confident enough to hold your own. The hardest part is taking that first step, but if you get that far your courage will pay off.