While growing up in rural Maine, I always dreamed of becoming a writer. My hometown is tiny and in the middle of the woods, so I learned how to create stories at a very young age, satiating my curiosity about the world around me. I loved writing from the first time I put pen to paper, though I never saw myself combining that passion with the two things I dreaded: math and science.

During my junior year of high school, I founded a body-positive fashion magazine titled Pretty Smart. Just five months after creating the editorial project, I came across an application for a coding camp called Kode With Klossy. I knew the camp’s founder, Karlie Kloss, was a reputable name in the fashion industry and inspiring entrepreneur, so I clicked submit on my application immediately. It seemed like a phenomenal opportunity, so I crossed my fingers for weeks afterward and hoped I had a chance of acceptance. I knew that the camp would be the most monumental challenge of my life, but I was prepared to tackle the two-week STEM program with everything I had.

After receiving my acceptance into the program, I made sure I knew what coding actually was. Kode With Klossy would be my first complete and thorough technological education, so I knew I had to come in with a little bit of introductory knowledge of the subject to feel confident about my attendance. When I walked in on the first day and immediately dove into navigating the coding terminal, how to utilize the console, and the importance of collaboration between co-working computer engineers, I was grateful I studied beforehand. 

Kode with Klossy was the challenge I needed as a young woman with no previous career direction. It introduced me to New York City, gave me a community of empowering young women to lean on, and jump-started my interest in coding. Learning how to utilize CSS, HTML, and Ruby opened my mind up to an alternative future. The two weeks and 336 hours I spent coding with powerful women around me showed me just how possible it was to create my path in tech. After being encouraged by Karlie to connect my outside passions with the tech industry, I began to examine how I could do that in my own life. 

When the camp ended, I entered my senior year of high school and the only thing on my mind was what I could do with my future. Kode With Klossy interrupted my original plan of being a creative writer, so I dove into research on how to integrate my newest skill into my future career. While I loved writing and fashion, I always thought it was impossible to integrate it with technology. I grew up hating 75% of the subjects relating to STEM, so discovering just how possible it was to integrate creativity with technology was mind-blowing to me. After discovering the possibility of working within the intersection of fashion, editorial work, and technology, the dots quickly connected in my mind. Creating wearable IoT fashion (e.g. a dress that connects to your phone via BlueTooth), technical writing, product development—these become future career possibilities that I dreamed of exploring.

Upon entering college, I explored these subjects through courses and by actively seeking out mentorships with editors and engineers. All I had to do was apply the words of Karlie to my own life and bam— opportunities kept rolling in. I attended coffee meetings with these influential leaders, worked my way into New York Fashion Week, and interviewed leading women in tech. I took the steps to integrate my newest passion into the life I wanted to create for myself and that was the most necessary step. It was this moment I learned the ultimate lesson: I have the power and control over my path to make it and take it wherever I’d like. I have the power to create my narrative and change course in my career whenever–especially right now. If I were to stay on a set path my entire life, I’d never see the beautiful challenges and opportunities on the roads lying beside me completely undiscovered–I’d never be where I am now.

Each opportunity that I grasped onto connected my interests in tech and my more artistic passions to show me just how easy it is to apply what I love with what can make the world — or myself — better.

My road was paved with expectations of who I should be before I discovered who I wanted to be. Kode with Klossy opened my eyes to the real-life possibility of directing my narrative by using the culmination of my technical and creative skills to write my story. I’m a Communication Studies major at Pace University, Content Creator for the Seidenberg School, Esteé Lauder Companies Online Summer Intern ‘19, and Editor-in-Chief of Pretty Smart magazine. All of these titles allowed me to see what my career could be, and the excitement to extend this list drives me each day.

Kode with Klossy didn’t just shift my career goals, it also shifted my life. By that opening myself up to something terrifyingly new, I introduced myself to a future of possibility. Without the introductory education to an entirely new subject, the thought of connecting it with my current passion would’ve never found its way into my mind. It’s never too late to discover something new, especially if it scares you. If you don’t like something you’re trying out, it’s not a setback, but rather a learning opportunity that curves your interest in another direction. You have the power to change the course of your life or career if it’s not working out, and you also have the power to own your success in finding your path. And once you do find where you want to go, following that road will lead to an intersection of passions that make you excited to wake up and face each day with determination.

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  • Brianna Adkins is a Junior at Pace University majoring in Communication Studies. Brianna, who grew up in a small town in Maine, was inspired after attending Kode with Klossy in 2016 to make the move to New York City upon graduation to broaden her horizons.  Her current roles reside as Content Creator for the Seidenberg School of CSIS, Social Media Lead for The Pace Press, and Editor-in-Chief of Pretty Smart. Brianna is empowered to dedicate her career and utilize her inherent privilege to uplift women and non-binary individuals through the power of storytelling.