People always want to know what your post-grad career plans are. I ask people too; it’s interesting. Career choices reflect on personality and abilities, so it’s cool to hear more about people through them.
When I was finishing undergrad at Baylor in May of this year, I fielded the “what’s next?” question a lot. My plan was to start grad school at Baylor in PR & New Media in the fall because I had an extra year of NCAA eligibility. I was going to train and get in shape, get faster and find a post-collegiate team to join. The teams are often non profits that reach out to develop the local running community, so I hoped to work in marketing or PR for whichever team I joined. That way I could develop both parts of my career – the professional side and the running side – and it would be another way I could add value to a team besides running fast.
“That’s the grand scheme,” I would tell people, holding out my hands, palms up. “But things never really work out how you plan. So, we’ll see.”
Indeed. At first, things seemed to be falling into place for that plan. Having the extra year of eligibility was nice (from a redshirt season my junior year) and would let me train hard for another year before having to step up to tougher post-collegiate competition. On the job side of things, I’d held a couple media internships, including one at Flotrack. I had some good experience at school with Photoshop and Illustrator, designing logos, newsletters and fliers. My GPA was good. This fall I got a job at Waco’s local running store, which set me up well if I wanted to start in running retail or apparel.
I could run, I could write, I was learning the running industry. Check, check, check.
But Fall 2012: the Grand Scheme Express stalled. Plantar fasciitis. Weight gain. Stress fracture. Even school didn’t really go as planned. My professors were great, but it was taking more time, effort and original thought than undergrad did. After four years of dedicated student-athlete life I wished I could be a dumb jock, not beginning another two years in academia.
It was time to reevaluate and begin scheming. At Baylor’s Homecoming, I got to catch up with some friends and Cross Country alums, and they gave me some good perspective. They missed running on the team here. It made me realize I shouldn’t throw away this opportunity yet. It’s really special, literally once-in-a-lifetime. I have a stress fracture and haven’t been able to run for 8 weeks, but I’m not quitting. I also had a conversation with one guy, giving him my speech about school just not being what I want to do right now, and he asked me, “Well, what do you want to be doing?” It was so simple. What did I want? I have a bachelor’s degree, it’s not like I have to stay after I finish track season.
Over Thanksgiving break in Austin, I biked across the Mopac pedestrian bridge over Town Lake. It was warm and sunny, and the trail was packed with Austin’s fittest and happiest people. Runners, walkers, dogs, and babies in strollers; the techies, the moms, the workout junkies, the outdoor lovers, the art geeks, the hipsters. It hit me: if I’m not happy where I am at school, I shouldn’t stay.
Although I haven’t run for 8 weeks, I’m alright. I’ll save you the inner turmoil of the semester (or maybe I won’t… later post haha) and cut to the chase. In spring 2013, I’m going to finish my last year of track eligibility. I can get in shape pretty quickly. I don’t know how it’s going to go, but I wanna be there and my coach wants me there too. Revised Grand Scheme is as follows. It has a few options, so it’s impossible to fail.
Plan A: take summer school so I can graduate in December 2013. Keep running! Race and PR, get set up to find a job in 2014.
Plan B: get another internship or job in the summer, finish school in May 2014. I would have to get a lot more scholarship for this to be feasible. A plus is that I could keep training in Waco even longer! Pretty cool that my coaches would let me stay. They are looking out for me.
Plan C: complete spring 2013 semester, then peace outta Waco and get a job (not finishing grad school). Ideally, I’d get on a post-collegiate team but I think with my PRs right now my running would have to be pursued on an individual level (AKA people are not going to pay me for it). This plan needs a lot more research though! I’m confident opportunities for running and working are out there.
I’m single and uninhibited. I don’t have debt or student loans to pay off. I can move anywhere. Plan A, B, or C, who knows. Bring it, 2013.