I was having a conversation with a colleague last week about my career goals when the million-dollar question was asked. “What’s your dream job?” I explained that my end goal was to be an Athletic Director, but added that, quite honestly, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get there. I noted that Athletic Directors who started in Sports Information/Athletic Communications are pretty few and far between, and the path to that kind of position is a lot different than that of a coach or someone who started their career in development or some other area of athletics.
Being the person that I am, I’ve thought about this concept a lot over the past few years, especially as this blog has grown and become a large part of my life. So when I speak about my objectives and not seeing a path to my end goal, I feel like I’m just being realistic. When this topic comes around, I prefer to have an open and honest conversation about my goals rather than just daydreaming about them. I’ve had people in the past tell me not to be discouraged, or to stay positive, or similar things like that, but I’m truly not looking for consolation or encouragement. In truth, while I know that my career path might be difficult, I’ve never once felt like my goals are unattainable. I’m confident that if I continue to work hard, I’ll get where I want to be.
If you know me at all, you know that I got my “start” in Division II. I went to a very small private Catholic college in Florida where I had the best four years I could have ever asked for, and I started working there right after graduation. After a tough year, I began looking for other jobs, and very randomly, I was invited to interview for a position at Stanford. Stanford! Like, the one in California! I eagerly submitted my application and readied myself for the trip out west. I was one year out of a DII college with no DI experience and they wanted to interview me? Surely this is a mistake, I thought to myself.
So I flew out to California, interviewed for the job, and hoped for the best. A week or two later, I received word saying that someone else had been offered the job and had accepted. Disappointing.
At the end of that summer, I quit my job as an SID. I didn’t see a future in this field due to numerous reasons - many of them related to the specific time and situation - and I truly felt like I needed to reevaluate my passions. I worked for a year as a high school teacher, and spent my nights and evenings working as a part-time SID at a local university.
Then, randomly, I was approached about a position at Michigan. Michigan! Turns out, the person who had interviewed me and not hired me at Stanford (Kurt Svoboda) had recently accepted a position at the University of Michigan and was looking to fill a spot in the SID office. We talked about the position, I was invited up north for an interview, and was offered the job soon after. (Thanks, Kurt!)
Prior to interviewing at Stanford, I didn’t know who Kurt was. But there I was, a little over a year later, being offered a job at one of the best and most iconic schools in the country. The timing wasn’t what I had pictured, but the opportunity was there.
I’ve spent the last two years working with two of the best programs Michigan has to offer, amazing coaches and student-athletes, and working in a position that I never dreamed possible. Of course, this specific position is not my final destination. I love my job and the people I work with, but I’m hopeful that I will continue making strides and reaching toward my goal of becoming an Athletic Director some day.
The path to the top -- wherever “the top” is for you -- is long and treacherous. It will be winding and narrow in some places and sometimes, the path won’t make sense at all. Not every job you apply for will be offered to you, and that’s okay, because everything happens for a reason, and everything will work out if you stay true to your course. When one door closes, another door opens. Believe that.