My memory is horrible. I’m not surprised however, considering nearly all my grandparents on my father’s side have had alzheimer’s (idk if that’s how genetics works but that’s how I like to think about it). Since I can remember, I have always written down tasks, comments, and ideas on paper. I did this because I felt like I would only remember whatever I wrote down. This strategy, along with some others,  has shaped who I am today. During classes, meetings, and networking events I take notes. 

Note taking has also helped me a great deal in my internship at The Communications Network. ComNet’s (Communications Network for short- how cute right!) mission is to bring about positive change  by connecting some of the nation’s top communication leaders. These connections can be formed through ComNetworkLOCALS, smaller city specific groups, and through the annual ComNet Conference. The conference is hosted in a different city each year and features workshops, dialogues, breakout sessions, and in conversations, facilitated by experts from a variety of fields.  Did I mention that more than 1,000 leaders attend the event? It’s a pretty big deal.  

So what do I, an environmental studies major, do at ComNet? As ComNet’s Karel Fellow, I get the best of both worlds: learning about the field of communications and serving as their low key chief sustainability officer. I am so grateful – and relieved – that I actually get to have a say in the network. So far I have been responsible for deciding which sustainable water bottles our sponsors should gift our attendees at ComNet19, created content for their new sustainable web page, and contributed in other miscellaneous tasks (e.g. contacting leaders, sitting in on webinars, and organizing some documents). I have to say it’s been pretty fun. (I swear I was not paid to write that!) In an organization that is run by five staff members: Yabby, Carrie, Stacy, Tristian, and Sean (oh yea, I got on that first-name level) I am in constant awe at how much they’re able to accomplish. These five individuals, working out of a small office room in a WeWork, are able to bring together some of the most inspiring leaders to talk about important social issues. The leaders that attend ComNet are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but the ComNet staff that make the event possible are just as amazing. 

So,  fast forward to today. I sat and looked at the empty Google doc and asked myself “what is this blog post going to be about?” And the answer was literally next to my laptop: my notebook (and more specifically note taking). I recently had a wonderful conversation with my supervisor, Carrie, on how to be a successful notetaker (I consider her one). She shared some amazing tips that I want to share with you: 

  • “In meetings some people just talk. They don’t realize they need to follow up, but good note taking allows people to figure out what the next steps are.” 
  • “With notes it can be easier to be more blunt and direct than in person” 

Notes are much more than just mental reminders! In a place like ComNet, where I felt lost  in the beginning, I was forced to take notes. I’d write down everything from the  jargon that I didn’t understand to notes on meetings, and of course advice that I was offered. 

So how does this seemingly mundane task impact my life? Well it’s helped me stay on track of my goals, reassures me (I write motivational quotes), keeps me in the loop,and  reminds me of the little things – all of which has pushed me in a positive direction and changed who I once was (an unorganized, stressed out junior high student). 

As I look forward to helping ComNet become greener,  I know my notebook will be right by my side. And I know it will follow me in all my future endeavors. I’ll have it during the first week of my last year of college, and I’ll have it when I sit at my future desk at my own environmental justice nonprofit. There’s a common saying that I like to use: “speak it into existence.” I’d like to add on to that  “write it into existence.” It can be just as powerful!