A little topic is receiving a lot of fingering and tweet-service via Twitter today: young writers, unpaid internships and going after what you want. Let me share with you a little secret:
PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE DEAR HEARTS
I’m a believer in a little tough love. We know deep inside it’s the best kind.
Iwanted to work for my college’s football team. I wanted to be in charge of decisions and be respected. I didn’t know what role that would be in college. I knew the position I wanted to hold for pro team. Amy Trask, former Raiders CEO held a beacon of light, that if she could do it, I could do it too.
I began working as an intern for my mentor, Mr Hendrix and no is first name is not Jimi, in the athletics department. He was a former four-year starting point guard for our alma mater, leading our team to the Sweet 16 decades ago. At 5’10” he was not built to play in the NBA. He instead played six seasons as a corner in the NFL. He never played a down of football outside of high school. As he told me once, he didn’t like the feeling of being hit. One of those teams he played for, the Dallas Cowboys during their prime.
When I walked into his office I had no clue who he is. The accomplishments he displayed, his two degrees prominently placed on top of a cabinet and several photos of his family surround his desk. Modesty is a virtue.
He gave me good advice, and the realities of playing in the NFL.
See, I was raised in a house where football wasn’t turned on every Saturday or Sunday. No my father wasn’t an armchair QB. I had to pull a QB sneak to peek at games.
Football is revered in my small-town community. A national football power at the time, was only 45 minutes away. Football brought people in my community together. The game fascinated me, and so my obsession began.
While interning unpaid for Mr Hendrix, I worked 1-2 additional jobs to pay my rent and expenses. I was a first generation college grad. A small-town girl who was feeling her away around a system that was savage. Read: it wasn’t easy.
Beverly Hillbilly’s exist. I’m living proof.
I was promoted to work for my college football team, as the Assistant Director of Football Operations for 4 seasons following my internship. I was paid, but if I told you what it was, you would think I was crazy to do what I did, for as long as I did. Most days I loved it, some days I didn’t. That’s life dear hearts.
I didn’t know it then, my last day working in football was NLI signing day February 3, 2010. I would work even harder to gain a similar position at USC. After years of making connections, and acceptance into the Marshall School of Business to pursue my MBA, I was told during my interview I was overqualified.
That’s what happens when you chase other dreams, like joining a tech startup that IPO’d. Another story for anther day…
Realize all you have is yourself. Know your worth and be willing prove it. Go. Hard.