(The above video is just a funny video produced by Nike this past spring. I did not produce it but did laugh at it)

Currently I am working as a marketing coordinator for an incentives marketing company here in Chicago. A huge part of my job will ultimately be executing social media marketing efforts for the company to help broaden their reach. My hands-on knowledge and experience in social media marketing is what got me hired. How did I gain that experience necessary for employment? Let's go back to college...

Our track team at school had an annual late-night ritual affectionately known as the Naked Lap. There shouldn't be too much guessing involved as to what this was. This was a rite of passage for new members of the guys distance team in which they would run a lap around the track wearing only the clothing God gave them at birth. Many other college track programs have similar rituals, so we weren't odd or revolutionary thinkers. I competed in two of these rituals, pioneering the naked "power walk" on my second and final time senior year. Since I wasn't going to be an all-american runner or set any school records, I figured the first power walk was the next best way to leave some sort of legacy with the program.

The spring of my junior year, I was assigned to create a short film for a video production class. Coincidentally, Flotrack was sponsoring a contest where users submitted running related videos and the winners were decided on votes from the general public. The grand prize? An all-expense-paid trip to the Beijing Olympic Games. This included airfare, 10 nights in a 5 star hotel, tickets to all night track finals, and excursions to different tourist spots around China. I decided to kill two birds with one stone: make a short film about running for class and submit that same film into the Flotrack contest. After brainstorming and deliberation with friends and teammates, I decided that the naked lap was a fitting subject. It was out-of-the-box, edgy, and I knew that a naked lap video (tastefully done) had potential to draw a large audience of voters. After getting thumbs up from my professor when I submitted the idea, production for "Breaking Free" was underway.

After the film was made and submitted onto Flotrack, I decided that some sort of voting campaign should ensue. I went onto Facebook and created a fan group for it, giving updates on voting every morning to members and reminding them to vote. The video spread like wildfire to runners and non-runners alike on Facebook and soon I was getting overwhelming support. After a few weeks, our video was crushing others in that round of voting and it looked like I was going to be able to punch my ticket to Beijing if it kept up.

A freeze frame from the last scene of the movie A freeze frame from the last scene of the movie

However, due to the controversial nature of the video (it was a video about running naked after all), many users were complaining on message boards that it was winning  despite the good comments (many sent directly to me) and overwhelming margin of positive votes Breaking Free gained. Then Flotrack started to extend the voting deadline longer and longer. Then with one day to go, we were still in the lead by over 1,000 votes. Then if by magic, we went from first to 5th in 24 hours. Top four videos made it to the final round and it appeared that several videos that trailed mine somehow doubled their votes out of nowhere, which seemed a little fishy to me. Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I feel as if other powers (cough Flotrack adminstrators cough) inflated votes to get us out of the final round.

Good came out of it though. I submitted that video as a portfolio piece when applying to Imagewest. I landed that internship andn got praise for the video. After explaining how I used Facebook to help promote it, Heather (the Imagewest agency manager) gave me the responsibility of managing the agency's social media outlets. In addition to that, I contributed to a digital marketing plan for a Louisville museum, which incorporated social media marketing as a tool to increase visitors to the museum. I had seen first hand the influential power social media tools had and was able to provide firsthand knowledge on its effectiveness.

When my current company was looking for a new marketing coordinator, the main thing they sought out was someone with a broad knowledge of social media. Because of my hands-on experience with it at Imagewest, I was very qualified for the position and got the job. I got hands-on knowledge before Imagewest from promoting a video. I wouldn't have had inspiration to produce video for promotion had I not ran a lap naked with my team early in my college career.

In conclusion, from a weird connection of events, running naked indirectly helped me get a job. It's funny how random events in life can eventually be connected and produce results that you wouldn't ever think would happen. I didn't make it to Beijing last summer, but I am gainfully employed now.

Take that Flotrack.

The start of the lap

Breaking Free from Drew Hawkins on Vimeo.