In 2002, I went off to Sweet Briar College without a clear plan for my future. My practical personality and a bit of coaxing from my parents helped me decide against subjects like English and history and instead, to pursue an interdisciplinary major: Spanish and business.
Business, for me, was not simply pragmatic; I fell in love with marketing and communication. Spanish was an entirely different story. The goal of every assignment, conjugation and memorization was to get a good grade. I had learned more about cultural awareness than how to speak a new language.
During my junior year I went to Florida for Walt Disney World's College Program. I had the time of my life working as a hostess at the character dining buffet at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. When I returned to college after my eight months in Orlando, I decided I was meant to work in the hospitality industry. I wanted to return to Disney right away after college, but given that most of their entry-level positions are paid by the hour, I determined a return to Disney World didn't necessarily make sense; I didn't want to have to work two jobs just to get by.
As the clocked ticked toward graduation, I decided to put my dreams on hold and take a sales job with my family's company, living in Durham and traveling through Eastern North Carolina to sell automotive warranties to car dealers. I lasted exactly one year. Between the constant driving and my desire for something more stable, I realized I couldn't remain in sales. More job hunting followed; Even though I was still looking into hospitality, I realized rent had to be paid and therefore, was open to all solid options. My resume was passed from friend to friend and one day, I got a call from Duke University's temporary services office. They wanted me to interview in the University Development office for a staff assistant position. I didn't know much about fundraising but recognized a foot into Duke was worth checking out.
I was hired on the spot. Finally, I had found the job security I was looking for, in addition to a great team of coworkers. In late 2008, I figured it was time to start looking around for my next move up the ladder. Despite a few interviews, nothing came of my job search. I had an impressive resume, plenty of Duke connections and still, no prospects for moving up.
In January, I was speaking with my best friend and fellow Spanish and business major when she told me that Sweet Briar was hiring teaching assistants for lower schools in Spain. I laughed when she suggested I apply. I hadn't uttered much more than "hola" in four years. But as I looked into the program, I realized that going to Spain was my only opportunity to go in a new direction, experience a new world and find a way to make the failing job market work for me. Needless to say, since being accepted to the program I've been feverishly practicing -- and enjoying -- Spanish. Although I never saw my life going in this direction, I am looking forward to the many inevitable challenges and opportunities.