Okay, so here's the twisted road that got me here to Chicago...
Smokey Mountain Summer Project
First off, college internships. The summer going into my senior year of college I knew that a summer internship somewhere would be a good resume boost going into graduation. My first and main focus was interning at Nike for the summer, either in NYC, Chicago, or their world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. After talking to a few friends and contacts at home, I eventually made a contact with someone who worked for Nike and would potentially be a huge asset as far as getting me on board there. In addition to Nike, I was also pitching for a marketing internship with the Titans Radio station in Nashville.
While all this is going on, my CRU bible study leader kept pushing a CRU summer project and how I should look into it. He said it wouldn't hurt to apply. After dragging my feet for a while waiting on my "real" prospects, I ended up filling out the summer project application online for the Smokey Mountain project in Gatlinburg, TN. It was a "fallback" option in the unlikely event one of the other "resume boosting" options fell through. I figured a summer in the mountains would be good for my last cross country season. As that spring progressed, the doors at Nike gradually started to close and I kept feeling a tug to spend my summer in Gatlinburg. It was like God was saying "this is where you need to be," which made no sense because I was thinking "practically" and wondered how a summer in the mountains would help my resume or job prospects graduating in a year. Eventually, after more doors started to close at Nike, I finally listened to God. My thinking was "This sure won't help my career but if God keeps pulling at me to go, there must be something he knows that I don't." I chose to do summer project and didn't even wait to hear back from the other Nike and Titans opening that were left. A huge portion of my faith was riding on my summer experience.
God did not disappoint. He definitely knew something I did not. That summer ended up being hands-down the best summer of my life. I was blessed to serve on the leadership team and worked part time at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company serving tables. Working at Bubba's was the best summer job I have ever had and eventually opened doors for me later on. Despite what I thought (not that this was the point of going on summer project) summer project ended up being a huge resume booster. Having spent a summer doing things for other people seemed to stand out to several people who helped me revise my resume and stood out to my current employer in the interview process. I honestly didn't see that coming! Also, through my work at Bubba Gump's, I was able to gain a job opportunity at the Bubba's here in Chicago to pay bills until I found the career job I was looking for. My experiences from that summer alone helped open up so many doors post-graduation that I didn't even fathom possible at the time I committed to going. I was very disappointed with not getting my "dream internships" and thought my post-graduation plans were going to be more bleak as a result of it. God knew better though. It's nice to be proven wrong now and again.
While on the subject of resume building, let's talk Imagewest. This was a unique advertising internship program that our school offered that was the only one like it in the country. Obviously, I wanted in. My junior year I applied to get into the program...and failed. So obviously, I dusted myself off and tried again the following semester...and was rejected a second time. A person can only take so much rejection from the same source. So finally, going into the last semester of college, I applied again and got in! God's timing was evident in that, although I didn't really see it until graduation.
During that semester is when I decided, though I couldn't explain why, that I was going to move to Chicago. I had never been there before that semester so the move really didn't make a whole lot of logical sense at the time. Being the planner that I am, I started looking at opportunities in the Chicago area. Through Imagewest that semester, I was able to make some contacts with professionals in my field who worked in the Chicago area. Then CRU just happened to be going on a Chicago mission trip that spring break, which I jumped in on. In addition to that, through my agency manager having a former student who worked here in Chicago at Hinda Incentives, I found out about a job opening a week before my moving day up here. I ended up applying for that job and landing it after a week being up here.
...to be concluded...