Two months ago, I sat in front of my computer screen at work reading a post on Facebook that Pete Moore had shared about a job opening at Syracuse. I was torn. It was clear that this job could be life-changing for me and was a step in the direction I wanted my career to take but I felt it was too soon. I had been at East Carolina less than one year, football was still in season and basketball had yet to start. After learning about the job a little more and reaching out to a connection at ‘Cuse to see if the job was something that interested me, I had a decision to make. Do I apply and see if I get an interview? Or do I just keep my mind focused on ECU and the upcoming basketball season knowing another career-changing job can open in the future when the timing is better?
But the thing is, there is no “better timing” in the sports industry. So I talked to my family, my mentor and a few close friends and the consensus was an overall, “you need to apply for that job.” That was it. I had the support of everyone that mattered – except my coworkers at ECU.
Before I get into the next part, let me explain why I loved being at ECU; it was, hands down, the people. My communications staff of Tom McClellan, Malcolm Gray, Jody Jones and Chip Welch (and our administrative assistant Suzanne Metcalf) made coming to work every day worth it. From the day I started they never made me feel like I was an outcast or that I was new. Despite being vastly different from them, mainly the fact that they all had been at ECU for more than five years, they made me feel like I was with them all along. Although I was often picked on for being the youngest or as Tom loved to put it “a millennial”, they were always willing to take time to teach me new things. They never judged me for not knowing, except for the one time I was trying to focus binoculars at a blank wall. I was definitely judged for that.
Along with my coworkers were my student-athletes. I had great student-athletes at ECU and I cared a lot about them. I loved the little moments I spent learning more about them during media availability or the entertainment they provided when I was traveling with them. It was all so valuable to me.
Lastly was the community. A lot of people don’t see Greenville, N.C. as a great place but I certainly did. I loved the community, I loved Pirate Nation and I loved all that eastern North Carolina had to offer. Believe me, it is more than you think. I had a cute little home in a great neighborhood with the best neighbors just a mile from campus. I seemingly had it all and was afraid if I left I would not be able to replace all of the above. Though some things are irreplaceable, more blessings could come my way if I gave it a shot.
Anyway, I decided not to tell anyone at my current job that I was applying, I didn’t even know if I would get an interview regardless of how optimistic I was. I submitted my application, which started a period of two months of sleepless nights. As time passed I grew more and more nervous about applying, partially because I was nervous about the job but also because I was terrified someone at ECU would find out and get mad that I didn’t tell them. I didn’t have to tell them, that was my choice. So I became paranoid. I didn’t mention anything that could draw attention to the fact that Syracuse had an opening in fear of someone putting two and two together.
Then I got the phone call: ‘Cuse wanted me to submit more work examples. I was excited to hear from the head of the search committee (my new boss Sue Edson), plus it was an opportunity to ask that they not mention anything to my coworkers at ECU. A few days later, I was asked for a Skype interview (yes!). I did my Skype interview from my hotel room while I was on a road trip with basketball. (Side note: I actually left shoot around early and took an Uber back so I could make it in time. I felt bad “lying” to coach saying I had a meeting with the home team’s staff but whatever it takes, right?)
Following the Skype interview was the first time I mentioned to anyone at ECU that I had applied. I asked Jody, our men’s basketball SID, for his opinion on how I should tell my boss. Jody and I were really close; we talked daily about life outside of work, especially past career opportunities he had passed up on. (ECU is his Alma Mater and hes from North Carolina so leaving had to be right for him.) I knew he would be my go-to person if I ever had a dilemma such as this. He said to wait on it and see if I get an on-campus interview and then I will have a better idea of how serious things were.
Less than a week later I got another call asking if I would like to come on campus for an in-person interview. I ran next door to Jody’s office to tell him and after the high fives we decided now was the time to tell my boss. It was a Friday and we had our final home football game the next day so with production meetings and everything scheduled we decided to wait until after Monday morning’s final press conference of the season. That weekend, it ate me alive. I don’t think I slept. But when Monday rolled around I had enough preparation into how I was going to tell my boss.
I was terrified to tell him, to be honest. Just a few months earlier I told him the only way I would apply for a job would be under three circumstances: closer to my family in New York, a Power 5 conference school and working with women’s basketball. When I told him, he was obviously sad but extremely supportive and thanked me for telling him when I did. He gave me his blessing for my interview and I went on my way.
The rest of it all is not as important to the meaning of this post. I went on my interview and was offered the job a week later. My ECU athletics communications coworkers were sad but excited. They knew it was something I wanted and having their support meant the world to me.
This week I started my new job at Syracuse, which is obviously in New York, and I am working with women’s basketball. Despite the 17 inches of snow we’ve gotten since I moved here, it’s been a dream come true. I miss ECU and the people I worked with. I really wanted to be there a couple of years before moving on but sometimes the man upstairs has other plans. I’m thankful for all I learned during my year in Greenville, and know that there is no way I could have landed my new job if it wasn’t for ECU and the people I had the opportunity to learn from.
The job wheel is always turning, you may see something that sparks your interest tomorrow or maybe during the first week of your season. My advice is to go for it, especially if it could be “that job” that you have dreamed about. Don’t worry so much about what your current employer or coworkers will think. 99% of the time, they will want you to be happy and successful – plus, if it’s a step up, it makes them look good. Know when the appropriate time is to tell them when you get that interview and don’t be afraid to ask the hiring committee not to say anything until you’ve had the opportunity to.