“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” – Christopher McCandless.
I can’t think of a better quote than this one from my favorite book and movie, Into the Wild to summarize how the Fellowship has changed the way I always viewed work and life after college. I got my degree in Supply Chain Management at the University of Arkansas primarily because it seemed like a safe bet. Don’t get me wrong, supply-chain fascinates me and I don’t think I could’ve picked a better major to suit my interests. However, it was hard to ignore the fact that there there will always be a need for supply-chain and there were plenty of large companies hiring supply-chain grads left and right.
In those last couple of years of school I was feeling the pressure of just finding a job that would pay me, regardless of whether or not I was happy doing it. I had student debt to pay, fear of letting my family down and too much concern for what people around me were doing (Most taking the first job that came to them). After all, nobody finds happiness as soon as they wander “into the wild” right?
While there is some truth to this, (you are most likely not going to end up doing your most passionate work right out of school) you should be searching everywhere for the work that matches your uniques abilities and makes you happy. The longer it takes you to start searching, the more likely you are to never actually find it.
With all of this said, the Fellowship has given me the opportunity to solve new and exciting problems every day. In fact, as a fellow at a host company, your role is expected to change regularly so that you can find what work you enjoy and excel at most. Since I graduated almost two years ago, I have helped build an ecommerce business, managed purchasing and distribution operations, solved problems with hundreds of customers in customer service, managed a B2B sales team, learned how to build/manage ads online, grow organic traffic to a website, conduct market/consumer research and most importantly, how to work with a team to make all of these things happen.
While I will not call myself an expert in any of these fields, I have learned more in the past two years than I learned in my entire college career. I now have a better idea of what work I am passionate about than I ever thought I could this early on. This hasn’t all come from my daily job and co workers either. I have learned as much or even more from my peers in the Fellowship, professional development events we attend, networking in the entrepreneurial community and mentorship from board members. As a member of the Arkansas Fellowship you are running the organization and planning for the the future alongside a board of directors made up of business leaders with years of experience. Through monthly events, retreats and taking on roles and responsibilities in the organization I have gained knowledge and a support group made up of people with a myriad of talents that will be there for years to come.
This is what being a Fellow is all about for me and the reason I don’t fear wandering into the wild any more. I’ve found joy in having an endlessly changing horizon.