Today was my last day at work. After 5 years of blood, sweat and tears I have finally ended this chapter in my life. Everyone at my job was all pouty faced and sentimental . . . some of them (people who I've never seen acting like serious adults) telling me that they'd miss me, things aren't going to be the same without me and attempting to drop some words of wisdom on me before I took my final steps down the hallway leading out to the door. I took a bunch of pictures and got a little nostalgic at times, coming to terms with good and bad memories that will now be a part of my immediate and later on, distant past. Now some of yall might think I'm being a little dramatic right now, but this job was my whole life for 5 years. 5 YEARS!
Allow me to take you down memory lane for a minute.
In the Beginning . . .
It all started with an internship. My senior year of college, I decided that I needed to get an internship and immediately started going on hunts to look for one. At one media networking event for college students, I squeezed my way through a crowd to meet an asian reporter at one of the leading news stations in my area. She told me that I started looking for an internship waaay to late and the odds of me landing one at her station (the biggest one in town) or any station for that matter was slim to none. She then pointed in the direction of a lonely man standing in the corner and said, "Maybe you should try the people over at the WB." (Cue the "womp womp woooomp" sound effect.)
So fast forward a couple months, I managed to get accepted into an internship in a strange way. One day I was sitting at a panel discussion and a bunch of anchors, reporters, DJ's and maybe 2 executive heads were telling us college students about life working in news television, radio, and tv production. All of the students in the room were in typical college gear - you know, sweatshirts, pajama bottoms and flip flops. I wore a business suit and to this day, I think this was what helped me to stand out in this crowd of over 150 students. That and when the event was over, everyone bee-lined for the anchors, reporters and DJ's while yours truly made a bee-line over to the executive heads. "I want to be a director, how do I go about doing that?" I asked one of the executive heads that was especially staring at me during the panel discussion and handed her my resume. The lady (who'd just finished basically dismissing some dude in front of me with "yeah, yeah, uh huh, okay, thanks, bye!") said to me, "Wait one second! I am going to give you the cell phone number of our main guy. I want you to call him and if he says he's busy, you call him again and again, okay? Don't give up!" "Okay," I said and long story short, I called the guy, we arranged a meeting and the next thing you know I was getting water for the same asian reporter who told me I wouldn't get an internship anywhere.
Getting Hired . . . Or in My Case, Never Leaving
So I did my internship and tried as hard as I could to learn everything. Despite this one guy that was a major suck up in our little group of 5 maybe 6 people, I still managed to stand out amongst my peers. By the time the internship was drawing to a close, everyone knew who I was and what I intended to do. I applied for a million and one jobs after I graduated and ended up with a sucky temp job that had absolutely nothing to do with my field of study and was so boring that when I would arrive at the building every morning I would sit in my car for maybe 15 minutes crying and willing the place to implode. That didn't happen, but fortunately, an opening (for the lowest possible position) at the station I did my internship with opened up and I applied and landed the job. This was the beginning of my working odd hours. I worked Monday through Friday, from 4am to 8am earning 10 dollars an hour not counting, of course, the hour it took for me to get to the place because I lived 65 miles away. I made about one hundred dollars a week but when you subtract for toll and gas (and this was around the time gas prices skyrocketed) it was really more like 35 dollars a week. And I didn't even count the cell phone bill, because the cell phone stayed disconnected. So I did this for a while and would train on different machines for about 4 more hours after my shift ended. This and I volunteered my time to working as many major televised events as I possibly could (to the point that I am still notorious for being the girl who has at one time worked in every single department in the building). So yeah, I was hawngry!
Anywhoosits, all of that training finally paid off and I was able to land a much better paying job working overnight weekends and filling in during the week.
A Stepping Stone or a Slump?
I began this last job, hoping that it would be a stepping stone to my dream job and applied for different positions every weekend while at work. There were not a lot of responses, but I didn't care. I was working local events and busily building up my resume with special projects and live productions that my company would put on. After my resume got healthier, I began to get some feedback. I found myself driving out to interviews and at one point, was even flown out to an interview. Still, nothing. Rejection is a part of this industry, I told myself, one day I'll get something. A year passed by and I was still hungry, working as many hours as possible, applying for things and getting rejected. In the meantime, I became that friend. You know? The one that never gets out. My love life was pathetic and I found myself putting up with pretty-much anything so that I could have some kind of companionship.
Before I knew it, 3 years had passed by. At this point, I was feeling restless and worried that there was something terribly wrong with me and I would be stuck at this place forever. I was embarrassed and felt that I'd turned into the "former intern" who just couldn't seem to move on. I remember that particular year, someone said to me, "What happened? It seemed like you used to have goals but now . . . it's like you're stuck in a rut or something." That comment still pisses me off to this day, lol. Either way, I was in a strange place. A purgatory (if you will). Too qualified for the beginner jobs and not qualified enough for everything else. I worked enough to get by, but not enough to do anything more. I went into a depression, sneaking in and out of my job using the backdoor stairwell. I stopped speaking to people, would break into tears at my desk and found myself sitting outside of the building and praying for the place to explode. Also, my boyfriend at the time (who was also one of my coworkers - yeah, I know, bad idea) was cheating on me and it also didn't help that a really ugly rumor was flying around about me at work. So I did what everybody does when they're going through some ish in life . . . I took my butt to church.
This lifted my spirits to a degree and allowed me to put my energies toward something that felt more fulfilling. I started to inadvertently let things go. Like my apartment. It took up about 75% of my paycheck and at this point in my life, I started dating the man-friend and spent most of my time at his place anyway so I (verbally) decided that I was going to move into another apartment but ended up just crashing with him instead. So a year goes by, and I'm still mailing out applications to no avail. My relationship with coworkers began to cool off since I didn't see them as much and I began hanging with my church friends and involving myself in more "spiritual" activities. I decided that I didn't want my job to become my life, but still attempted to find something full-time. This time, I kept my mouth shut about any job prospects, thinking that maybe I'd been jinxing myself all these years. I stayed focused and to a degree, got a little bit of my "strength" back when it came to dealing with rejections. Within that 2 year period, I saw 4 of my closest friends get engaged, get married and have children. I never got jealous of them because I knew that wasn't my path in life, but I continued to wonder when my life was going to finally take that dramatic twist and I would land the television job of my dreams.
So whilst having a typical (or long) conversation with my mom about life, the topic of applying for jobs came up and my mother says, "Arnetta, I think you're going to have to seriously consider looking outside of the box."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Maybe you should look for jobs outside of this area," she replied.
"I already do that."
"Yeah, but maybe you should look into doing something different (pause) something different and far away," she said, hesitating for a moment. "I don't know . . . something told me to tell you that."
"Okay," I said.
And the rest is history.