On my first day as a media relations graduate assistant at San Jose State, there was a department-wide softball game. Now, I'm not an athlete. I was in the marching band growing up and was one of those kids who'd rattle off the statistics of my favorite hockey players, but give me a hockey stick and a pair of skates and it was bad news bears. Needless to say, I go up to the plate, my first introduction to San Jose State and the Division I sports information life, the ball comes to me and I completely whiff. It was actually impressive.
Thus began my career in sports information.
That's not to say that my career has been all misses. It just hasn't gone as planned. I planned to move to California after graduating with my bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State College, and I did. I planned to stay at San Jose State for two years and graduate with my degree, and I did. But after that, my seemingly flawless plans weren't so flawless.
One month after graduating, I became an assistant director of athletic communications for women's soccer, swimming and diving and softball at Penn State, returning to the east coast. That was SO not part of the plan. Upon leaving Buffalo in 2012, the plan was to leave the cold and snow and never look back.
About two months into my tenure, I switched sports and started working with women's hockey and men's lacrosse, both sports with which I was familiar, but hadn't worked with since college. Not part of the plan. I worked with softball at SJSU. Working with softball at Penn State would make my transition easier! But the plan changed, and I was committed to going with the flow, as they say, and staying in State College for five years.
Spoiler alert: the plan changed.
Near the end of my first year, I realized how much I missed California. I missed the friends I made there, I missed the lack of seasons, I missed the laid back lifestyle. Somewhere along the line, I discovered that the west coast was where I needed to be at this point in my life. On a whim, and with the blessing of a family member who agreed to host me until I landed on my feet, I gave my three weeks notice at Penn State and moved, without a job, to San Diego.
It was the best decision I've ever made.
People thought I was crazy for giving up what was a great job at Penn State. I learned more in that year than I could've learned anywhere else, both personally and professionally. I will be forever grateful for my time at Dear Old State. But I also knew that I needed to move on.
Two months after moving to San Diego, I started as a part-time employee in San Diego State’s athletic communications department, returning to the Mountain West, working with men's soccer, women's lacrosse and men's tennis. This year, I was fortunate enough to be promoted to full time and work with football, women's basketball and women's track and field and cross country.
Twenty-two year-old fresh-off-the-plane Jen never saw herself living in San Diego. She never saw herself working with women's basketball or traveling to Hawaii with a nationally-ranked football team or falling in love with graphic design and social media.
But plans change.
Moral of the story? No one knows you better than you. I could've listened to all of those people who told me that I was silly for leaving a stable job in the Big Ten to move across the country without a job. I didn't know what was out there for me, but I knew it was great. I trusted and believed in myself. I knew that everything was going to work out because I couldn’t see myself being anywhere but California. If that meant working part time or volunteering, that’s okay. It would all work out the way it was supposed.
Feel free to make all the plans you want. Making plans can be comforting. But also recognize that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Never forget to check in with yourself and listen to, and trust, your gut. You are your best advocate, your No. 1 supporter, your truest confidant.
It'll all work out. Trust yourself.