Where do I start, where do I start? Well first off, I do not write this with the intentions to have people look in awe or jealousy of what I have {because honestly let's face it -- I'm sure many and most of you have it better than I do}. What I want and hope for is to possibly empower someone, somewhere out there to find what you love. To help motivate someone to continue to search for the right fit because you refuse to settle. That is why I am sharing my journey with you to where I am now. First, I am going to tell you where I came from.

As you may or may not know I grew up in Iowa with Lindsay and my mom. I also grew up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As long as I can remember I always had a goal to eventually graduate from Brigham Young University. Since BYU is a private university, I knew it was going to be challenging to be admitted. I worked hard in high school to make sure to get good grades that allowed for me to be competitive among the applicant pool. I participated in multiple sports, was in student council all 4 years of high school, joined every club that interested me, volunteered in my community, and even applied to BYU the summer right after I graduated high school just so I knew I could't look back and say "if only I would have done that". The day I opened up my admittance letter and saw the words "admitted" I literally cried. I was so happy I had accomplished my lifelong goal (at a mere 18 years old) and was actually going to move to Utah to become a BYU Cougar!

Flash forward to college at BYU. My first semester became a slap in the face very quickly. My peers consisted of kids that all graduated top of their class (a class of 500 kids… pretty different than what I was use to --86) and many had a large number of AP/IB courses under their belt. I had none (my high school only offered two, one of which was an online class). I felt so inadequate to be there and so dumbfounded when I learned there was more than one way to cite works in your research papers. I was often confused and felt my high school didn't prepare me as well as my classmates' had. Though it was a hard adjustment for me I eventually got the swing of things and was well on my way to get good grades again. I started college as an open major because I really didn't want to limit myself however I quickly realized I loved talking to people and being there for them when they needed me. Not only did I love it but I could see I was able to get people to open up to me very quickly. On the last day of my freshman year I decided to declare my major to Human Development, so I could eventually become a therapist someday.

This didn't last long. I lived at my grandparents house in Park City, UT summer after my freshman year and after much thought about how long I would want to be in school, the type of career I wanted, and a little advice from my uncle I thought business would be much more practical incase I wanted to own my own therapy practice or if I decided I didn't want to do therapy anymore I would have a bachelor's degree to land me with a good job. On the first day of my sophomore year of college I changed my major to pre-business, signed up for the prerequisites and changed Human Development to my minor. I worked incredibly hard on my prerequisite courses to get into the business school and got an A in all of them (one of which included Calculus)! I applied to the business school that summer. I had been eager to hear back all summer (which was the summer I was getting married)! My future was depending on this letter. I finally got the email that started with "I regret to inform you that…." that was all I needed to know. I didn't get accepted. I couldn't major in business.

I heard a lot of stories of people who didn't get in on their first or second tries but by the third time they finally got in. My grandma even encouraged me to just try again. But I didn't. I surprisingly wasn't too sad and in my mind that was a indicator that maybe Human Development was the right path for me… since I really did try my hardest to get in. So I went back and switched my major to Human Development and immediately feel in love with the physical, cognitive, and emotional developments people go through throughout their life. I noticed my major consisted of many women that were a lot like me and I loved it! I knew I would not be happy with this path if I stopped my education with my bachelor's degree {Human Development is pretty much just a basic liberal arts degree so there really isn't much you can do with just a bachelors degree in it. If you want to have a profession in the field you have to go on and get at least a masters}. So since I knew I needed to eventually get a masters I did all I could to get to know professors (so I could have good letters of rec). I did well in the Intro to Human Development class, applied and got selected to be a TA over about 900 college kids. The summer before I graduated I also applied to be a research assistant for a very prestigious longitudinal study from my college called Flourishing Families. I won't go into detail about it but I got to work very closely with professors and had hand on research that many undergraduates do not get the opportunity to have. I felt like I worked very hard and knew I was doing all I could to get into grad school.

I managed to graduate in 3.5 years so that my husband could transfer to the University of Utah so he could focus on school (after we got married he was working full-time and going to school part-time at Utah Valley University so that I could graduate sooner). Nine months before I graduated I learned more about what a Masters in Social Work was like and felt as though it was perfect for me. I fell in love with its code of ethics and what Social Workers stood for as well as how big the market is for MSWs. I applied to the MSW program at the University of Utah while I was also applying for full-time jobs at the University of Utah to make money right after graduation {it was my turn to start supporting our little family}. I got hired to work at the Financial Aid and Scholarships office at the University of Utah a month before I graduated college and was ecstatic! I was so happy to check that worry of my list and was very proud of myself to get hired even before I was finished with college.

After a few months of woking at the Financial Aid and Scholarships office I learned real quick it was not what I wanted a career in. I was so happy to be working at the University of Utah so I could get the health benefits and tuition discount for my husband… but I was not happy in that office. It made me awfully sad when I couldn't help a student get financial aid. Though I understood them, I resented a lot of the federal government's policies as I completely think education is the number one way for our country to continue to grow and be more and more successful. I felt some of the policies benefitted students who couldn't succeed and those students who were overachievers didn't get any ounce of sympathy. I truly felt that it was all backwards. The hardest thing about it was there was nothing I could do about it. Not only were these policies set so far in stone (since they were straight from the feds) but even little things we could do to help students in the process just on the university level, I found people were less willing to change because they were set in their ways. I had absolutely no idea if I would get accepted to the MSW program so really quickly into my time at Financial Aid I made a goal that if I didn't get accepted and I was still there, I had to find a new job once I got to my one year mark.

Well, to my dismay at the end of spring I got a letter from the U's Social Work school offering me a spot in their Master's of Social Work program. I could not believe it! I was so happy but so distraught by what I should do. At that time {and currently now} I was the only one making money. Clark and I made this deal that it was his turn to be the full-time student since he sacrificed being a full-time student so that I could graduate. This MSW program at the U was only offered full-time of which you had to take about 15 master's level credits a semester (full-time for master's students is 9 creds), of which were all day (they didn't offer many at all in the evening) and you had to do a practicum where you were volunteering at least 16 hours a week on top of the course load. This made it impossible for me to keep my full-time, M-F, 8-5 job. I had worked so hard in my undergrad career to get to this point all to see my options so limited. If I was able to take the program as a part-time student it would be a no brainer that I would do it. But if I were to accept the program I would have had to find a new more flexible job that still paid the bills. I took all summer to decide and applied to a ton of jobs… but didn't hear back from any. It was really hard for me but I decided to decline the program one week before it started. After I declined it I actually felt at peace with my decision. It was like a huge weight had been lifted from me and I felt ok.

Anyway, after declining the program I realized maybe a career in social work wasn't right for me. I have been living downtown for over a year and have been harassed by homeless people multiple times. I don't like them. I don't feel bad for them, especially the panhandlers. I know that sounds harsh but it's true. Although I never had the intentions to work with homeless people, often times in social work you have to work with the hard populations and pay your dues before you can work in the area you truly want to. I think I would have gotten burnt out real quick.

So, as you know how I felt about my job, around October I started applying pretty seriously for new jobs. There was one specifically I desperately wanted. It was with the Bennion Center at the University of Utah (I needed to stay at the U to keep my amazing benefits) which is the U's service group. The Bennion Center is a really upbeat, happy environment and the job would have been basically mentoring  the student leaders of the various service programs. I got offered an interview with a board of people and felt like I did really well. A couple of days later I got a call for a second interview where I had to prepare a "workshop" focused on leadership. I was so nervous but after the interview I honestly felt like I nailed it. I felt so good about it. I had been writing thank yous to them and getting responses that gave me every indication that I was a candidate they were really interested in. After about a month I found out in an awful way through word of mouth that I didn't get the job. I was completely devastated. People had told me "it's ok something else will come though" but I didn't believe them. I thought that was the only office at higher education that would help me get to where I want to be in life and benefit me in a future career.

After an incredibly slow few months at Financial Aid and Scholarships I finally decided I just needed to do all I could to meet my goal I had made right when I started my job. In January I think I applied to like 20 jobs in a matter of two days. Anything and everything I saw that I qualified for I filled out an application for. I didn't entirely know what all the different departments and offices did… I just applied. After a couple of weeks I got a couple of calls back for interviews. The second office that called me back was the External Relations office at the David Eccles School of Business. I had no idea what that was. But I did my research and figured out it had something to do with public relations and development. I went to the interview feeling very prepared (which I might write a blog post about how to prepare best for an interview) of which benefitted me very well. During the interview they were literally telling me if this were ice skating in the olympics they would give me 5 stars! I was so happy they had given me so much encouragement. The best thing about the interview though was I asked them what they each liked about working here all of which they answered feeling so passionately in love with their job and working with each other. I knew right off the bat that that was what I was missing in my work place. Passion and love from a team. The next day I got a call back for a second interview! I was so happy I made it to the next step! Then a few days later they offered me the job!

I started this job a week ago and am seriously in awe by how perfect this department is for me. Their main purpose is to maintain relationships with donors and alumni to eventually get them to give back to the U. So in a way I am still using my human development degree and I am very much working with people in the way I wanted to! I love the purpose of the office as well. That we are communicating with these people so that we can give more to our business students so that they can gain the best education (we raise money for everything, scholarships, facilities, buildings, student programs etc). I am so happy to be in this office. This is actually an area where I could see myself having a career in!

I hope all of you will work hard and keep pushing through stagnant times to figure out what you love and what you want to do so you can help make the world a better place and ultimately do something that makes you happy!

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