My four years of college were a microcosm of how my life has sometimes gone. I had no plan, no thought to what I was supposed to be working towards. I didn’t go to college because I had a particular career in mind that I wanted to prepare for. I went to college because I didn’t know what else to do and my father had always drilled into my head that I was not going to be successful in life if I did not go to college. What he failed to tell me was that simply going to college does not make one successful. You have to have a plan, a goal, something to spend your four years working towards. I had nothing of the sort and as it turned out, I spent my four years so wrapped up in how I was going to pay my tuition and my bills that I didn’t even declare a major until my junior year. And when my last year came around I had no more idea of what I was going to do after college than I did when I first started. It was not a comforting thought I can assure you. My four years of college were not completely wasted, I had learned a lot of cool stuff, met a lot of nice people from different parts of the country and had been exposed to an unbelievable amount of culture that I would have missed out on had I never gone. However, the one thing I didn’t leave with was any kind of idea about how to put any of it to use in the real world. I had majored in Mass Communications with a specialization in television and media but since I didn’t plan on moving to Los Angeles or New York, there was little chance I would actually work in that field. I graduated in May of 1993 and by autumn I still had absolutely no idea about what I wanted to do. My best friend Mike had gotten a great entry level job at a promising new company out near the seacoast and his grandparents had offered him the use of their beach house since it was too far to commute. He asked my friend Scott and I if we were interested in moving in with him there and I figured what the hell, I can look for a job there as easily as I could anywhere. I worked a bunch of temp jobs to keep food on the table which was a horrible way of life that I wouldn’t wish on anybody. The only thing that got me through was to keep convincing myself that it was only temporary until I could land a good permanent position somewhere doing…well, doing something. I figured that with my Mass Communications degree maybe the best thing to do was get into advertising or sales so I started applying for every opening I could find but nobody would hire me because I had no experience. I eventually talked the sales manager at one of the bigger local radio stations into taking me on as an unpaid intern so I could gain some experience. I worked my ass off for them, researching statistics and graphics, putting together advertising proposals and such. After several months one of the salespeople quit and they were so happy with my work ethic - imagine that! - that they hired me to take her place. I was so excited, I felt like I finally found something that I could excel at and make a successful career out of. As it turned out, my career in sales and advertising was just like everything else in my life; I didn’t do it because I enjoyed it or was really interested in it, I did it because I felt it was the best or smart thing to do. As I would figure out years later, this is the absolute wrong reason to do anything. I never thought about everything that the job would entail, I only thought about the fact that I finally was where I was supposed to be, at a job where I wore a suit and tie every day, drove a nice car, had my own business cards, took clients out for “business lunches”, all the stuff that made me feel successful. Not surprisingly, I lasted less than a year before I realized that it wasn’t for me, despite some decent success at it.
So what next? I thought about what I wanted to do, what interested me but not much occurred to me. What did occur to me was that the happiest times of my life were spent with the high school youth group of the church that I grew up in. People used to say that I would make a great youth minister someday and so I thought maybe that was my calling. The only problem was that I would need to go back to school which I couldn’t afford, so I decided to move back to Nashua and spend a year working to save up enough money to go back to school. I got a mundane job at my mother’s company doing general assembly work but after about six months it was clear that a career as a youth minister was not to be my calling. Not only had I not saved a penny to go back to school, but I quickly realized that although I have always been a religious person, my lifestyle was nowhere near as pious as such a career would demand. So I found myself once again with no career prospects, no direction, no clue whatsoever what to do with my life.
(Click HERE for Part IV)