9 Things I Learned at Her Conference 2013

I had the privilege of attending both days of Her Campus' 2013 Intercollegiette Conference in New York. If you ever get the opportunity to attend this annual summer event, I cannot recommend it enough. It if a great way to not only learn from some amazing experts, executives, and rolemodels in the media, marketing, and publishing industries, but to bond with other women (and a few men) who are passionate, ambitious, and willing to hold your hand as you grow together.

I've attended every day of this conference since its inception, which has it's roots in the local version I led my freshman year. I have never attended a Her Campus conference where I didn't grow nor where I didn't make wonderful new friends. It was so wonderful to get to finally meet in person women I loved so much through our internet friendships like Melanie Kirsch and Clara B.

I can't give you the amazing friendships-- you gotta do that yourself-- but i can give you a run down of some of my top takeaways from 2 days of amazing.

1 - In the grand scheme of things, the why is more important than the how. This is not one of those, "the ends justify the means" things. It means the fact that our dreams make us happy and fulfilled is more important than having an exact and itemized plan of how to do every single piece of it. Visualize. Introspect. Think of what you want, and then forge a path to get there. We often get bogged down in the how and forget the why. It is more important to know what success looks and feels like to you than it is to know all the details of how to get there. Once we solidify the goal, the path can come to us-- but shutting out those hopes by poking holes in an idea that hasn't fully developed kills it before it has a chance. The hows are little. The whys are the big picture.

2 - Complacence kills success. The minute you stop challenging yourself to improve is the minute you top moving forward. Everyone else has the good sense to keep going, and they'll leave you in the dust. Enjoy what you have, but never believe you have achieved perfection.

3 - Constantly reflect on who you are, what your boundaries are, and what is right for you. Caroline Rothstein laid out some great advice for freelance writers along these lines-- but it really applies to everything doesn't it? You're not living anyone's life but your own. Recognize that not every path is right for you, and take the time to figure out what is.

4 - Accept that you can experiment and fluctuate. Caroline discussed this also. Your boundaries are guidelines, not unbreakable laws. Have conscious negotiations with yourself about what you are or aren't willing to do. It's okay if you change your mind, as long as it was a conscious decision.

5 - Be independent first. You are more secure if you know how to do things yourself. Having people to depend on is a luxury-- and sometimes you'll find yourself without. Whether it's being able to edit your own video, or support yourself on your own income, it's good to be able to survive and keep putting out strong results even when you're in a tight spot. Learn to do it on your own first, and then you'll be in a good place to ask for help, and understand what you need to really excel. You'll also be in a better place to negotiate if someone asks you to compromise on something you're uncomfortable with if you aren't dependent on them.

6 - Don't let perfect get in the way of better. We sometimes feel like we've got to wait until things are just right-- save our effort for that elusive golden window of opportunity. The fact is, it rarely comes, and is easily missed. It takes a little more elbow grease, but it's worth the muddle and confusion to take a sledgehammer and bust a window through that solid wall before you. Recognize that it's easier to take a leap of faith when you're young and have less to lose. Realize that there are steps you can take right now to get on track to better, even if perfect is a long way off.

7 - Success looks different to most people. Whether it's a general what's your ideal picture of life at 60 or do you like to see GPAs or QR codes on resumes, people have very different answers. It often varies by industry and then in smaller ways over personal preferences. What does this mean? 1 - your idea of success doesn't have to look like anyone else's. 2 - everyone else's idea of success isn't going to look like yours. 3 - sometimes those differences are the difference between you getting hired or not, hitting it off or not-- that's okay, and it's not your fault. There's a lot you don't have to take as a personal failing, but a simple mismatch. Go with your gut, be respectful, and from there, accept when things don't work out.

8 - Turn every crisis into an opportunity. Mentally rephrase problems or complaints into questions. Stay calm and realize that there is a solution or a way forward. It might be hard, but there is one. Don't let panic prevent you from seeing the opportunity that lies in every deviation from the status quo.

9 - Don't underestimate your peers. "Pat yourself on the back, but pat others harder," say Be Your Own Best Publicist writers Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper. It's good to kiss up, but it's better to kiss to your left and right. Peers will care about you. They have literally been exactly where you are. They will grow with you. Appreciate what the people around you do, and they will do the same for you.

Shout out to all the amazing girls I got the chance to meet at the conference and the wonderful, inspiring speakers who took the time to speak to us.


  1. this sounds like an incredible event -- and you learned very valuable lessons for the working world and life in general! thanks for sharing!

  2. WOW! This is phenomenal! Wish I got to go :(
    Thanks so much for sharing, Harper - looks like you learned some great lessons for now and for the future :)

  3. Was so happy to meet you in person, Harper! Sending love from Florida! #HCXO


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