I came to Wesleyan University in Fall 2012 feeling really lost. On the surface, I suppose I walked around with that cocky freshman swag (note to Freshman Lily: You had 0% swag), but in reality, I was really freaked out. Not only did I have no idea what direction my life was going in, but I left high school feeling really empty. Sure, I had quite a few accomplishments that I’m still proud of to this day, but I never really felt quite in my element.
See, I’ve always been one of the obnoxious people who’s always filled with ideas and constantly sputtering them off to anyone who’s within a two-foot radius. I spent my high school years trying to get my unfortunate friends to help me execute these plans (I still lament the hipster zine I couldn’t get off the ground), and I never had an outlet to really launch anything off of. I knew I could run a thing; I just didn’t know what it should be. And as I matriculated at Wesleyan, I felt as confused and insecure as ever about this fact.
Enter The Prospect. In December 2012, some strange guy (who eventually became my co-founder Steven) and I started corresponding about starting a college admissions venture. On February 19, 2013, while I was sitting in my American Government & Politics class, TheProspect.net launched. By all accounts, this initial blogging operation wasn’t perfect (the layout we had at the time was wicked janky, and we were only able to post 2-3 articles per week), but something happened.
For once, I had an enterprise that I could call mine and that I could put all of my abilities into. It’s an incredible sensation to have something that is your own. You feel powerful, even if that tiny little thing is just a horribly minute speck on the colossal world of cyberspace. And that’s a feeling that hasn’t left me yet. I’m still in love with the venture I started one year ago.
Obviously, a lot has changed with The Prospect since we first launched on that snowy February day. We went from getting 4,000 page views for the month of March 2013 to having over 80,000+ slated for February 2014. We had at most 50 people looking at our website on any given day when we first launched; we now have 30,000+ unique visitors every month. Even more exciting for me: We’ve had a perfect straight year of consistent growth. Just wow.
Of course, the year has not be without its setbacks. We’ve had controversial posts. We’ve had people tell us that our work is not novel and not helping people (I’m looking at you, judges of a certain unnamed grant competition). We’ve had terrible page view days. And I’ve personally had days of doubt. Could I really keep leading this thing?
But here we are, a year later. And as I said earlier, I’m still enamored with what we started 365 days ago.
Obviously, there are a lot of people to thank for that.
Thanks to my co-founder Steven Gu, who has dealt with me for the past fourteen months.
I’ll admit it: I’m a very demanding person to work with and I expect people to be on it all the time. Steven’s fared pretty damn well, and he’s done an absolutely incredible job working on every aspect of our tech operation as well as our webinar team and general TP morale. He’s also been an awesome person to bounce ideas off of, and I’m so excited to keep working with him for the coming year.
Thanks to all of my friends, both real life and Internet people, for all of their support.
I spam my Facebook profile and Twitter feed with TP stuff all the time (sorry, not sorry), and people are generally awesome about it. A huge shout out to my peers at Wesleyan for all the support. A day doesn’t go by without at least one or two people asking me about how TP is doing and what’s coming up. That’s just incredible to me.
Thanks to my extremely supportive parents, Mike and Paula.
My parents believe in two things: 1) Turning everything into an educational experience, and 2) doing your own thing. A huge thank you to them for their belief in my abilities, even when I would call them at 11 o’clock at night to announce my excitement over The Prospect reaching 100 page views in a single day. They really are my role models, and I’m proud to call them my parents.
And of course, a huge thank you to the TP staff.
Leading anything is hard; following something (and someone) is so, so, SO much harder. It’s always easy to believe in a blog like Feministing or Glam that spans every continent and has millions of views and dollars to show for its success. Believing in a rogue blogging operation run by some crazy college kids from their dorm rooms? That takes a lot of guts and a huge leap of faith, and I’m forever grateful to our staff (especially the staff who joined us during our first two or three months of operation) for believing in what TP is and what it can do.
My mom once put it eloquently when she looked at our staff page, checked out our content and then said, “You got damn lucky with your staff, Lil.” I think that’s a little bit of an understatement. It’s an absolute honor and privilege to work with the people that I get to on a daily basis, and every single member of our team reminds me that there’s so much hope for both the present and the future. Our elders always talk about us young whippersnappers as a generation of lazy, entitled jerks, but The Prospect staff proves that these old fogies are totally and completely wrong in their analyses of students today.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to our beautiful, lovely, hilarious staffers. Many of you are no longer just “Internet people”; you really, truly are my friends, and I thank you a million times over for the laughs, the great selfies, and the amazing work. Thank you for pushing me to be a better leader but also a better follower. And thanks for just being great people. I’m truly in awe of all of you on a minute-to-minute basis.
So, what does the future of TP hold?
Well, for starters, it’s obvious that we think we’ll be sticking around for a while. Yeah, so that’s pretty cool. But there’s a lot more to look forward to.
Some stuff in particular to keep an eye on? Well, we may or may not be launching a brand new sister blog later this semester (hint hint), and we also may or may not be helping promote various bloggers in awesome capacities (another huge hint).
But whatever we’re doing, I know we’re going to do it well, because our staff is awesome, growing, and hilarious.
Here’s to the first of what is hopefully many anniversaries for The Prospect. May we have another 12 months of #SelfieSundays, awkwardly placed GIFs, and articles relating the college process to Beyonce (all hail the Queen!).
Live long and Prospect.