OMC Intern Spotlight: Madelyn Kim

You may not realize it, but at Oak Moon Consulting we have a few interns that have been helping us out. They're all hard working, talented students that have helped push the company forward in unique ways.

One of them is Madelyn Kim, a sophomore at The University of Michigan. She's been a key part of helping us launch Bizmanity, our podcast, as well as a key player on some other initiatives. She's really helped us push the ball forward in her short time with us. This is the story of her life and career up to this point, in her own words (lightly edited for flow):

At ten years old, if someone were to ask me “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I would’ve said “I’m going to be a baby-taker-outer.”

Growing up with two doctors for parents, and being one of the few Asian families in town, it was assumed that I would follow in those footsteps. When I was in fifth grade my dog became pregnant with puppies and I stayed up all night helping my mom deliver the puppies. I was amazed by the miracle of life and I wanted to become an OB/GYN. I was familiar with the medical field and it was simply a given that I would pursue that path. I became obsessed with the idea that one day I would be able to help a mother bring her child into the world.

With an average level of intelligence, I worked extremely hard to get the grades I wanted. School was always a source of stress in my life, not because of my parents but because of the pressure I forced upon myself. If I didn’t get an A, I begged for extra credit, got tutors, and devoted more time to school work. I never had a favorite subject, I despised them all equally, yet I excelled in all of my classes. I hated writing papers, I struggled with math concepts, and I could not perform science labs. Despite my annoyance with learning and school, I trucked along because it was what I had to do in order to become a doctor.

High school was the first time I was exposed to the hard sciences. Freshman year I took a biology course, but I didn’t really care about the content and as soon as the test was over I forgot everything. Sophomore year I took chemistry where I first learned how to light a match and often walked out of the lab section in tears. Junior year I took physics and I’m not really sure what I learned in that class. Senior year I had the choice to take the AP version of any of the three previous subjects. At that point I realized that I didn’t really care about hard sciences. This realization was slightly annoying, however, because I was really good at studying for those classes and I did really well. I just didn’t care about cells, moles, or gravity. The world just works how it works.

After I realized that the medical field is probably not for me, I became an author. I’m a big Disney fan and watched a lot of movies as a child. The High School Musical series was my favorite and starting at eight years old, I was enchanted by the idea of going to prom in high school. I was seriously obsessed with the dance. Sophomore year, some of my upperclassmen friends were going, so I started making creative promposals for them. I came up with a cute idea, drew out a possible sketch of the poster, and gave it to the date. I felt like Cinderella’s fairy godmother as I worked behind the scenes to perfect someone’s special night, help a couple find an initial spark, and ease the pressure off of less-creative guys. Creating those slogans was so fun and I couldn’t wait for the chance to get asked my junior year.

As my own prom approached, I was bursting with anticipation. As those around me paired into couples, I panicked at the dwindling supply of eligible dates. At the last minute my neighbor reluctantly agreed to go as friends. With no time to spare, my mom and I rushed to complete prom preparations. My dress arrived just days before the event, my spray tan turned several shades too dark, and the stress made me break out. In the meantime, my prom date began dating another girl, and I became the other woman. As the long awaited day approached, instead of being excited, I was filled with anxiety.

Prom was so awkward as my date and I had little in common. He declined to talk, much less dance, and the hours dragged by slowly. For years I dreamt of “the night of all nights,” but all I got was a bucket full of tears.

After prom, I talked to a friend who joked that I should write a book. I dismissed the idea at first but later realized how other girls could learn from my experience. Starting right after junior year ended, it took me fourteen days to pen my story and three months to edit my work.

Writing allowed me to process my emotions and the humor in my situation. Normally strong and independent, I felt like a damsel in distress reliant on a boy to make my dreams come true. While I usually plan well in advance, the uncertainty of the situation turned prom into a haphazard, disorganized mess.

When I decided to officially publish it, I worried about being judged, but I went ahead regardless. With almost no budget, I learned everything I could about self publishing, cajoled my English teacher into spending her summer editing, and traded homemade cookies for free legal advice. In the end, my efforts paid off, and I became a published author at 17. I chose to make my experience positive rather than dwelling on all the negatives.

The Greatest Guide to Prom is part memoir and part organizational guide. At 10 years old, I never imagined that I would be able to hold a copy of my work. Through this process I learned that there is no limit to what I could do. At this point the idea of “why not me” really took root in my head. Although I am not actively selling the book or making promposals (college kids aren’t really the correct demographic for it), this project has boosted my confidence in myself and my abilities.

Entering my senior year of high school, I decided to take AP Chemistry. I was still in denial and reeling from my realization that medical school wasn’t for me, so I decided to give the hardest of hard sciences a try. Although my wonderful lab partner carried me through the lab portion (I still don’t know how to titrate a solution), I succeed in the course. My success, however, created another problem because I felt like that was all the more reason to go into the sciences, even though I hated what I was learning.

I got accepted into the University of Michigan and took a biology course. I did fine, but decided that I did not want to have to suffer learning about cells and processes that I don’t care about for the next four years. The pre-med door had officially closed. But, now what? After years of assuming the pursuit of a very specific career path, what am I supposed to do now?

During my re-evaluation, I got more into video creation. I started a very lowkey YouTube channel in high school where I had to make a gymnastics vlog while speaking in French. Over the next few years, I made gymnastics, concerts, Disney World trips, and no-training half marathon vlogs. These videos were simply time capsules for myself to look back and watch. However, I wanted to expand on my content and so something to help others.

Applying to colleges was a mess, and I often looked to YouTube for information. Some YouTubers were helpful, but I always felt like people were putting their guard up and only highlighting the good things about their university. No one was ‘real’. I am a very upfront person, so I felt like I could make more authentic videos about what life in college is really like. I made more vlogs and also created some pro/con and things to know about college videos while reflecting on my first year at Michigan. I really enjoyed making these videos because, like the book, I could process what was going on and help others figure college out.

Some of my videos have over 2,000 views and lots of high school students have reached out to me for advice. I love helping people and talking about my experiences, and there’s no easier way to do it than YouTube. Some students have approached me on campus and said that they’ve seen my videos and they were really helpful. Positive feedback is so exciting and I love talking to my Maddsters. YouTube is another passion project that I do to help others and share my experiences. It has allowed me to become well-versed in video content creation and comfortable with speaking on camera.

This past summer I did more reflection. I had my book and YouTube, but I felt like I was missing something. The next evolution of Maddy had to be audio. If I were musically inclined, I would’ve written an album. Unfortunately, I don’t know the difference between a bass and a snare, so that wouldn’t work. Then I thought about a podcast. I don’t really listen to podcasts, but I figured I’d give it a try. The first issue was figuring out what to talk about. I am easily annoyed, so I wanted to rant about random topics in the world. However, people don’t want to listen to a random girl’s rants.

I gave it more thought and remembered that I was an undeclared student. Why was I undeclared? Because I had no idea what types of professions and opportunities were out in the world. The main professions young people consider are in broad fields like medicine, law, education, and business. All other careers are seemingly ignored, until one goes to college and gains exposure to the plentiful subfields. With the lack of information about careers, I decided to conduct interviews with interesting people and talk about their life experiences. Incorporating my Maddening Conversation into a minute rant at the beginning of the podcast, I started with finding cool people to talk to. My first guest was my dad, who is a doctor. Every student has considered a career in medicine, and as an ex-pre-med, it was only fitting.

Once I had my first interview recorded, I had to learn how to edit the audio and eventually publish it. With some minor flashbacks to my book publishing research, I was able to figure everything out and release the segment. Since my first episode with my dad, I’ve interviewed an array of interesting people ranging from Michigan student athletes, entrepreneurs, and reporters. I enjoy talking to people about their passions and learning about their lives. This experience has probably been the most beneficial for my personal growth as I’ve learned how to listen and ask insightful questions, rather than butting in and forcing my ideas. The podcast was another bout of “why not me?” because although I had no experience in podcasting, I was able to create something awesome. I've received positive feedback from listeners as they found it interesting to hear from cool people.

Everything I’ve done has been because I had a silly idea and I set my mind to doing it. I always have a bit of self doubt, but that has lessened over time because I continually broadcast myself to the world. Each project has increased my self confidence and I am always pushing myself to start the next thing.

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