The David Chronicles: Why I Took A “Job” For $0
(NOTE: This is a new personal series I’m trying out to see if you like it, find it interesting, funny, helpful, whatever. If you like it let me know and I will tell more stories. Trust me, I’ve got more stories…insert evil laughter.)
The year was 2006. I had just graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree every straight, white male majors in…Women’s Studies (yes, I’m serious). I had done a series of internships in college ranging from the random to the ridiculous.
- CBS Sports in Los Angeles, CA. The highlight was going in the Los Angeles Dodgers locker room, as well as standing between Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins before their fight. I also learned how to not punch myself in the face while watching NASCAR for 4 hours to see if someone crashed so they could show it on the news.
- Research assistant for a history professor in St. Louis, MO. This is a story for another time. But trust me, it is funny and involves me never actually seeing the professor all summer.
- Kara Dors Fashion PR in Los Angeles, CA. I learned how to clip out newspaper articles and I met Mandy Moore.
- FHM Magazine in New York, NY. Another good story for another time. Trust me – it involves models, clothes, fat men, and writing.
- University of Dreams in Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY.
But, like many college graduates, I had “no idea what I wanted to do.”
So, I started trying to explore based on some of my obscure interests. One interest was roller hockey. I loved inline hockey. I had played since I was 13 and it taken me all over the world. It was more than a hobby. So, I started looking for jobs in the inline hockey industry. And, spoiler alert, I came to realize in a hurry that the inline hockey industry is a bit of a gong show. Unorganized, unimaginative and sort of sketchy (there are, of course, very good people as well). I was offered a fake job in California at a rink to do “marketing.”
What do I mean by “fake job”? I mean, there was never really a job offer. I was out in California on a trip and stopped by this rink (literally, just showed up) and talked to the guys there. I told them I was big into inline hockey, played at all the tournaments and turned my college team around (we went from 5 players and a negative budget due to a past president stealing from the team to buy drugs or something, to the national final four in 3 years) and whatever else I could muster out of my mouth. They told me to move to California, live in Newport Beach, and do “marketing” for the rink. I put marketing in quotes because they never actually told me what that meant to them (it could be hiding dead bodies, for all I knew).
So, I went back to St. Louis with a game plan. Graduate in May and move to California in July, with no concrete job. As I was ready to go out there, I called the manager at the rink and he told me, “Ummm…yeah. About that. So, you can come out here and all that would be cool. But, just to let you know, the rink is becoming a parking lot.”
Awesome. Fantastic. My fake job was gone. And I didn’t have aspirations to be a parking attendant.
So, I lived in my dad’s basement for the summer, trying to figure out what the heck to do and interviewing for traditional jobs. Funny thing about my dad’s basement is that what I really mean is my dad’s entire house. He had moved in with his girlfriend (and they are both incredibly great people), so I had the entire house to myself before he sold it a year later. Sounds incredibly cool for a 22-year-old, right? My own house!
But wait, where is this house you might ask? Is it in some bustling city with a vibrant nightlife? Nay, it was in exotic Chesterfield, Missouri (suburb of St. Louis) – complete with white picket fences and soccer moms. I was a suburban housewife at 22, minus a spouse and any money.
What to do, what to do. Then, I remember the day in August. I was sitting on the couch probably playing around on Facebook or something and I got a call from my former youth hockey coach.
“David,” he said, “Do you have time to take on a project?”
I thought, “Umm, no, sorry. I’m too busy working out at 24-Hour Fitness and shopping for lettuce.”
But I said, “Perhaps, what is going on?”
He informed me that a new pro inline hockey league was looking to expand to St. Louis. It was super grassroots (better term would have been “unorganized”) and they are looking for some help with organizing and marketing. Oh, and there is no pay or benefits of any kind.
Hmm. So I started thinking:
- I loved the sport. Back then, it was a huge passion (passions change, as now it isn’t my cup of tea, but I DID love it).
- I had interviewed at real estate firms and some other places. They all offered me a job, but I couldn’t work in an environment where I wasn’t passionate about the product.
- I was confident that IF it was something I was excited about, I could figure out how to make money from it one way or another (this turned out to be true).
- I had nothing to lose. I told myself I’d give it until the end of the year and if it didn’t work out, I’d take one of the “other jobs” that was offered.
- I’m always up for an adventure and trying something.
- My expenses were ridiculously low. Thanks to living at home and my savings of Bar Mitzvah money, I figured I could survive for about 6 months without pay.
So, what did I do? I told him, I’m in.
Would you have done the same?
In the next installment of the David Chronicles, how I stretched a $0 marketing budget and figured out how to make a little bit (and then a lot) of cash.
categories: David's Blog
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