Well what are you going to do with your life was always beyond a loaded question for me. I was/still am one of those people who always said I am going to change the world, which has gotten a lot more laughter than praise in my adult life, but I still stick to that goal to this day.
I started working when I was 14, by force from my dad who thought I needed to learn the value of a dollar. I made $5.50 an hour, did not know I was supposed to keep track of said hours and truly believed that everyone in the world was truthful and honest (this continues to be a hard lesson for me as I learn it over and over again). I also was by far the youngest employee so made to do all the work everyone else didn’t want to do and seen as a pain in the butt by my boss because I had working papers since I was under the legal age to work, which in turn meant much more paper work for him, as I needed documented breaks every few hours and could not work past 9 PM. Needless to say this first boardwalk job would shatter my world. I got underpaid, had to beg for my paychecks and really just saw that not all people are nice.
After this I spent just about every summer doing some sort of thankless, underpaid work to say that I did it and get my dad off my back. Then I went to college. Ah this was where I would figure out how to not spend my days under-worked and paid I thought. I went into college as an undeclared major, I explored just about every major and still had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, wasn’t this supposed to come easily now? I met new friends, went to parties, watched the Buffs crush some Big 12 opponents, snowboarded a ton, rushed a sorority , still no moments where I was like oh ok here is what I am destined to do.
My dad would ask me which classes do you like best which were never the ones he hoped for… microeconomics was ok, but philosophy was amazing, introduction to statistics not really my thing, but sociology life changing. My dad kept telling me the point of college is to gather high level critical thinking skills, it’s not trade school where you come out knowing how to do a job, this was life preparation. He encouraged me to find something I loved and I would never work a day in my life.
His passion had been more linear. He loved numbers, my grandmother would tell a story about finding lunch money saved in his room and asking him what he had been eating and why he had not spent his money on lunch. At the age of 5 my dad had already figured out that he could eat lunch and save money, so he got the cheapest thing each day and saved the rest of the money. He was destined for a career in finance.
My interests were the beach, ocean ,criminology, snowboarding and philosophy (and social justice but I would not come to this realization until a much later date)…. not exactly a linear path to any career. Nonetheless I ended up in the major where most people in college with no clue what they’re doing end up… a communication major. By choosing Communication I was ensuring that I could do anything that I could fathom. I was not going to be an engineer or doctor but those had been ruled out by default in a lack of passion for math and science. I was set. I spoke to a woman that worked for my dad in PR and I thought ok that is something I could do. I applied with management training programs at Neiman Marcus, Mariott and Hyatt. I explored graduate school for marine biology, got accepted and deferred a year to make sure it was what I wanted to do.
Then I set out to enjoy one last summer. I got a waitressing job in the beach town I grew up going to, life was good until the crash. Approximately 3 months after I graduated college the sky fell and the US was in a recession unseen since the Great Depression. There were no more jobs for anyone let alone a recent college graduate with no experience so crab cake server it was and then as summer faded to fall and fall to winter I panicked. I started applying for anything and everything. I found out about Americorps and applied to a bunch of programs all over the country. I interviewed for a few marketing positions and realized I wanted to be much more hands on so I started applying in the education sector. I scored a job in Austin, which I mentioned before.
After this experience I was back at home again trying to figure it out while serving crab cakes, this would become a theme in my life that would end with a tearful conversation with my dad in which he told me to just be the best crab cake server I could be and maybe one day I could open up my own crab cake shack. He means well, but there is a definite disconnect between a corporate finance guy and a free spirit who wants to change the world and somehow I just happened to end up as his daughter. However, it was this conversation… that sparked another one of those choices that would lead to a whole different life. I ramped up my LinkedIn and posted in a bunch of CU alumni groups. I ended up connecting with an alum in NYC who was starting an endurance fitness based retreat company. I did not know it at the time but this would tap the surface of a passion of mine… health and wellness.
I often say if things had been different and it had not been 2010 that that company would still be thriving and I would still be there as it is to date the only job I have had that I can honestly say I loved. I loved that we were designing vacations based around sports and the outdoors that also encompassed beautiful resorts and phenomenal food and a bonding experience for attendees. I was the one woman communications team and I thrived at coordinating the food and beverage at our events, seeking out the best coaches and making sure we were at all the networking events we needed to be at. I learned how to create media kits and promotional materials and improved my press release writing. I attended trade shows and partnered us with a non-profit. Unfortunately, with the economic downturn it just could not survive, but career wise those were the best three years and coincidentally the longest I have stayed with a company. It turns out I really cannot do something I am not passionate about for long and money is not a motivator for me, its just a nice asset.
After that position ended I moved back to Colorado took a PR and Marketing job that turned into mostly crisis PR and realized that I actually do need to feel that I accomplished some wins at the end of that day and not that I just put out a lot of fires. However, I did learn how much people on the local level appreciate you reaching out to hear their needs and I crafted my very first marketing strategy plan. Nothing in life is all bad and this organization is one I still support I just was not cut out to fight a life long battle.
After this I went the complete opposite direction and took a job at the corporate headquarters of an outdoor retail company where my day entailed co-managing a boot brand and inputting orders from 5 US territories for the soft goods line interspersed with some PR here and there. At first it was a dream, no stress, pretty easy and then I was perpetually bored. I optimized my time and realized on average I was done everything I needed to do by noon and was forced to sit there staring out the window answering phones until 5 when I was allowed to leave. I was bored and bored never works for me, so I applied for a teaching program at CU got in and left the job never to look back or at least not for a few more years.