Today was my last Monday at Flickr. It’s unbelievable how quickly this summer has come and gone.

I’ve been doing a lot of wrapping things up – working on a presentation, documenting things, tying up loose ends, the usual. What really caught me off guard though was the appearance of my “academic” life in the final presentation I’ve been working on. I don’t want to say much about it right now because it’s not quite finished yet, but for the first time, I’ve found myself actually USING what I’ve learned in class in a real world situation. Crazy, isn’t it?

One of my favorite classes so far at Cornell was INFO515: Culture, Law and Politics of the Internet. I’ve been sort of bashing my major lately, saying that I haven’t learned anything new, but I have to be honest and say that this class was probably one of the most useful and interesting classes I’ve had. We read a lot of Lessig, Benkler and countless other takes on the past, present and future of digital information exchange. Fascinating stuff.

So as I’m talking about my presentation with my manager, I mentioned that it reminded me of a concept from Lessig’s Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. Next thing I knew, my whole presentation was being restructured to use that framework. It turns out that learning all sorts of theories and reading studies about this and that can actually be pretty useful. Of all the things I’ve learned in my 3 years of college so far, I never thought this would be the one thing to resurface in the real world.

It really got me thinking, though. It’s made me realize that I really do enjoy the “higher order thinking” or whatever you want to call it. I enjoy deconstructing things to find a common thread or using things that I’ve learned in a theoretical setting in a more applied context. It made me realize that my favorite classes have been those that involve some sort of crazy final paper with little direction and a lot of “draw your own conclusions” sort of thinking. (INFO515 was one of those). Does this mean I’m starting to lean in the direction of grad school? Heck no. But it was definitely the push I needed to get me out of that rotten funk.

I’m ready to go back to school now. I’m ready to face the insanity head-on and take in every moment, because let’s face it – if I’m not going to grad school, this is going to be my final chance to focus on filling my brain with all sorts of seemingly useless nonsense that may come in handy down the line when I least expect it. It’ll be my last chance to sit down with a bunch of research papers, my laptop and my trusty legal pad and just start making connections between things and writing about them. And to those of you who say “but you can do that whenever you want” – I can, but I probably won’t. After all, I doubt I’ll find myself bored on a Friday night and decide to assign myself a 15-page paper. That would be weird.

This week has given me a wake-up call – it’s the first in a long line of “last” and “final” things that I’ll be facing over the next 10 months – the last time I’ll be moving into my college apartment, the last time I’ll have nearly 2 months off for winter break, the last time I have to walk up that hellish Slope, etc. There’s no way I’m going into that all sour and miserable. It’s going to be great. That’s all there is to it.

Bring it on, Cornell.