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It’s not a joke.

A year ago today, I was in “the cove.” It’s the dining room at Charley’s Steakhouse in Tampa that has all the fishing rods on the ceiling. I was an opener, in the middle of stuffing blue cheese olives and replenishing (read: stealing from the servers) the to-go boxes for the bar when my phone rang.

312 number. Shit. That’s Chicago.

I ran into the private dining room and shut the door and answered as calmly as I could possibly muster:

“This is Sydney.”

Rewind.

I had previously been at SXSW, came home, sent my resume to my new-found contact at Weber Shandwick and applied for an internship after graduation. I had been through phone interviews (FIVE!) and a writing test. This was them, calling me back.

Resume.

“Hi, this is Erin from Weber Shandwick, how are you?”

::cold, sweaty palms::

“I’m excellent Erin, how are you today?”

And so the small talk continues.

::jumping up and down, silently squealing in my head, and a little tear because this was actually (finally) happening::

I was offered the internship in Chicago. All of the dreaming and researching and Googling “things to do in Chicago” and Weber Shandwick-client-related-work stalking and probably-too-soon-apartment searching was bubbling over and becoming a reality.

It was April Fools Day.

This wasn’t a joke.

I hung up and called my mom. Who called my dad. Who called my sister. And I broke the news on conference call. I was moving to Chicago.

That was a year ago. It blows my mind how much I’ve learned and how much my life has changed since then. After I accepted the internship, things moved even faster than they had before. I was supposed to start in August, but started in June instead. Suddenly, my birthday weekend wasn’t for celebrating, it was for flying to Chicago and finding a place to live. I didn’t know what would happen after 16 weeks but I was ready and willing to find out.

Thank God I did.

Thank God I broke the rules and answered my phone at work.

April Fools Day will forever be remembered as the day my life sped up.

Try telling your family, friends, colleagues and boss that you’re moving to Chicago on April Fools Day. It took some serious convincing that it wasn’t a joke.

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