Have you ever watched the movie “Yes Man” with Jim Carrey in it? If not, the gist of it is a man challenges himself to say “yes” to everything for a year. It leads him on unique adventures as he adjusts from a “no man” to a “yes man”. Well, this is the philosophy I’ve decided to live by for years now and I have to admit it has lead me on the most amazing journeys.
Since graduating from post-secondary, I’ve taken almost every opportunity that has come my way. Sometimes I’ve held as many as 3 jobs at once; balancing them all to gain as much experience as I possibly could. I had been taught to follow my gut, try new things and never be scared of a challenge; so follow my gut I did. Today, I basically want to take a moment and tell you a little bit about my adventures and the power of “yes” in my world…
When I graduated from Loyalist College, I had dreams of living in Toronto and working at an awesome PR firm. So I started doing the leg work to discover a few agencies that I may be interested in, after attending a CPRS event that had one of those agencies in attendance, I set up a meeting to see the agency. It was approximately 3 hours after the visit where I got a call that they had an internship opportunity and could I start Monday? At this point it was Wednesday. I told them to give me a week, and I’d be happy to accept the offer.
Off to Toronto I went! I found an apartment within a week (with the help of a friend) and moved in that weekend. It was an AMAZING experience. Living in the big city was everything I had expected. I was working with unbelievable brands and incredible people at Paradigm Public Relations. In 4 months I learned a lot about the industry and gained valuable PR experience. On weekends I went to many festivals, saw shows like Billy Elliot the Musical and Katy Perry at the Air Canada Centre and often took advantage of my Canada’s Wonderland season pass.
As the summer came to a close, I have to admit I was getting homesick. Following my gut, at that point in time, I knew accepting a full time position at Paradigm PR was not the route I was destined to take and I said “yes” to my Mom who allowed me to move home again…
It wasn’t long until another opportunity came my way. Only in Belleville for approximately a month (where I worked retail to make ends meet), I embarked on a new adventure assisting Boston Pizza Belleville with their community relations. I had entered the restaurant one day and the manager greeted me with “your ears must have been burning the other day. We were talking about how we should be getting you to do some marketing for us!” And marketing is just what I did. I set out to fill their restaurant during the holiday season and experiment with new community intiatives such as participating in the Santa Claus parade and Quinte Arts Council’s “Festival of Trees.”
Leading up to this, after completing my certificate at Loyalist, I had also decided to get involved more with my community. Having already worked for the Belleville YMCA and The City of Belleville for many years, I felt very connected to the community, but I didn’t necessarily feel “involved.” So I took it upon myself to attend as many events as I possibly could to meet people and see more of what my community had to offer. I was also working at Belleville Bulls games selling 50/50 tickets during this time. Therefore I was constantly running into media people, and was really excited and surprised when I was approached by the Starboard Communications promotions manager to work for his summer road crew. Little did I know at the time that this would become one of those experiences I would remember for the rest of my life.
At almost the exact same time that I had begun with the radio station, I was also invited in for a meeting with the Belleville Bulls. What I originally had thought was a meeting regarding the “Fan in the Stands” position in the fall, turned out to be an offer for full-time employment as well. The Bulls and radio station were awesome at letting me balance the two and embrace two incredibly new learning experiences for me. At this point in time I had zero radio experience (but lots of people experience) and I knew absolutely NOTHING about hockey. That particular summer (2012) was an intense learning curve. I started to appreciate and understand not only the world of media and radio broadcasting, but also the sports and hockey industry.
Over the course of two years, I had the opportunity to introduce country artists on stage (as many as 30,000 people in the crowd), meet the many people who put great effort into local events and develop a love for the sport of hockey. During the day I worked in the office, taking in charitable requests, seeking new marketing opportunities or taking the players out to many different events; at night (Wednesdays and Saturdays) I found myself announcing promotions in the stands of the Belleville Bulls games and on weekends I traveled all over the local area for the radio station. Each experience was building upon itself giving me more insight to myself, my career goals and, of course, more valuable work experience.
Last summer, I had a little bump in the road as I broke my back (1 year anniversary this Friday!). Breaking my back couldn’t have come at a worse time. It felt like everything crashed suddenly. My personal life, my professional life and my social life were all in a period of development. After the Bulls had decided to take a different route with their community events position, I spent the summer focusing on my radio position. I remember as the summer came to a close how worried I was that I’d soon be unemployed. The radio position had minimal hours throughout the fall/winter and I currently didn’t have a second job to supplement it. Then I got a unique call from Ralph at Ralph Neale’s Belleville Dodge. They needed a shuttle driver. Why not?! Yes, I said! ????
I entered into the position knowing it wouldn’t be for very long, as did Ralph, but it was SO much fun. Not only was the car dealership full of interesting and cool people, not only did I get to drive the vehicles I had grown to love (the radio station vehicles were also Dodge), but I got to spend my days talking to people non-stop! It was one of those jobs that I probably never saw myself doing, but ended up having a great experience doing it. When the next opportunity knocked on my door, I have to admit I was sad to leave this one…
Nonetheless, I followed my gut and took a 5 week contract at Loyalist College. Full well knowing that I could be unemployed again in 5 weeks, I knew I needed to do it. Something felt right about taking this job. I joined the recruitment team at Loyalist College, and immediately I was on the road promoting the college. While I had attended Loyalist, it was a huge learning curve to pick up all the details of the college in such a short period of time. Having an awesome mentor (shout out to Carrie!) definitely helped in picking up all the fun facts about the programs and services the school had to offer. In those couple months (my contract was extended almost immediately) I traveled from Ottawa to Toronto area, up to Sault Ste. Marie and over to Timmins. I saw parts of Ontario that I had never seen before, and feel it will probably be a long time before I see again. I even saw my first moose on my travels!
Loyalist was an interesting place to work for me as it brought many of my experiences together. I was out and about talking to people, marketing the school, talking about education (I had originally wanted to be a teacher) and with the displays I was setting up, my experience in promotions also assisted me. Upon my return to the college after being on the road, I was offered another contract to stay on until March/April as the tele-campaign supervisor. This was another valuable position, as I continued to get supervisory experience. I had awesome students who worked with me on the weekend and continued to learn even more about the college itself.
As my contract was coming to a close at Loyalist, I again didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, until one day I received an email from my old boss at Queen’s Alumni Relations, where I did my internship during the PR program at Loyalist. It turned out the School of Graduate Studies was looking for a contracted assistant for special events and communications. Needless to say, here I am! Again, it is another interesting turn in the story of my life. I had always wanted to come back to Queen’s and work, and I’m quite enjoying the atmosphere of SGS. They’ve been embracing my design skills (Adobe Creative Suite) which I hadn’t been using much and have me working on several projects at once. It’s awesome to walk around the campus and see how things have changed (they have a pharmacy and a grocery store in the Queen’s Centre now…cool eh?). It’s been great to reconnect with old friends and coworkers here. Overall, it’s just another great experience to add to my life.
I’ve had some adventures right? ???? And I’m always looking forward to making new memories too! Life’s a rollar coaster ride, you can either scream or enjoy the ride!
Here’s another good read on “saying yes” as well from the Huffington Post: Success and Motiviation