As I recently hung my diploma on the wall, I pondered how that crisp document has influenced my present.
Well, the grace period for my student loans just ended, and I live with my older brother and sister-in-law (also a Virginia Tech alumnus). So, I’m a perpetual third wheel that can hardly roll under the crushing weight of debt.
Wait. My familial roommates also have two dogs — I’m actually a fifth wheel. (The Border Collie has a penchant for Superman-launching into my man region.)
Mercifully this is hyperbole, and life is sweeter than it sounds. Since moving to Denver last May, I’ve started to learn the art of home brewing beer (a red ale and coffee stout under my belt), snowboarded nearly every weekend this winter, and seen more concerts than I managed in my last decade of Central Virginia residency.
It might seem I’m contradicting my debt with these things that clearly cost money. Yes, I managed to land a job. To those who doubt their futures: It can be done. Maybe more assurance for you is that I’m not practicing exactly what I studied.
My communication degree did inform my first Colorado gig. I scored an (unpaid) internship at 5280 Magazine, one of the premier regional lifestyle publications in the country. Come to find out premier magazines inevitably already have premier writers, and considering the seesawing state of the print medium, newbies like me are delusional to think we’re entitled to full-time staff slots. It was cool to flip open an issue at the grocery store and see my name, but we’re actually talking squished, two-inch-wide blurbs that probably received as much attention as my He Said pieces did last year (read: very little).
As fall approached, my starved wallet kept biting my ass, begging for my next funded step. (A second job stocking shelves at a college bookstore and a diet of almost strictly eggs kept me afloat. Thankfully I now have health insurance.) The employment search demanded a wider scope; journalism slots were slim, but the entire communication industry wasn’t emaciated.
The opportunity came within public relations, an area of study at Tech I didn’t touch. Still, the crossover of skills was quickly apparent: writing for items such as press releases, client strategy plans and even your own company’s blog; media relations to increase the broadcast of your clients’ brands or missions — I’ve been “media”; social media proficiency to gauge online conversations and ultimately understand how to best impact clients’ audiences. (And this is still a fraction of the field.)
An agency called Pure Brand Communications gave me a chance as an intern (paid!) and has probably risked its very existence by hiring me this past November. Pure comprises numerous disciplines including public relations, advertising and marketing, and all work together. There are no offices or cubicles. Humor and happy hour are part of the culture’s bedrock.
This description isn’t intended to be self-congratulatory but merely a suggestion that there is a niche that best hosts your abilities and personality — it just might take some scouring. I never had a perfectly sculpted vision of what post-grad would look like, but I know this is different than that fuzzy picture. But different — as I believe now especially — is really good. Embrace the serpentine journey, if that’s what yours becomes, and ignore your skyrocketing cholesterol while eggs are your entire menu.
Atop expanding into more food groups, I’ve been lighting the wicks on more friendships, though it’s challenging. Living with a married couple lends itself to meeting more engaged or married couples; working with predominantly engaged or married colleagues yields few extracurricular hangouts. (Note: This exposure conversely makes me less interested in becoming engaged or married. Seriously, it appears you and your partner become social phantoms.) The dynamics of college — dorms, apartment parties, sporting events, et al. — practically serve friendships on trays.
I suppose, then, that my top priority should be finding a studio pad once our lease ends and spending what little disposable income I have on a raging Rocky Mountain kegger. Or better yet, I’ll home brew the beverages. Regardless, you’re all invited. Of course, there is a cover fee: Pokey Stix.