First person: The hard road to my dream job during the age of coronavirus

(Courtesy of Dave Adamson via Unsplash)

In the last two weeks, nearly 10 million Americans have lost their jobs, according to a report Thursday from the U.S. Labor Department. But there is hope. I know because I got my dream job five months prior to graduation.

Like a lot of college students, I spent my time working at a restaurant to pay bills and get by.

But I also made sure to take advantage of a unique opportunity that paid dividends. I pursued a deeply-rooted passion in sports journalism. In 2018, I began writing for a website called stateoftheu.com, which specializes in University of Miami football coverage.

It gave me the incredible opportunity to grow as a journalist while discussing my favorite sports team.

(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series describing the transformational effect of coronavirus on the young. For more stories, click here.)

In spring 2019, after almost a year blogging and writing mostly based on opinion, I received a bigger role — covering Miami Hurricanes football. I knew that if I showed up every day and acted like a professional among a group of highly respected reporters and other prominent media members — despite making close to no money — I would be recognized for my relentless work ethic someday.

And that’s what I did. I was present for every practice, press conference, event or anything related to the team because I knew that if I did, at least one person would notice. It was a sacrifice.

I took on fewer hours in my job at a restaurant so that I had time to complete the work for the site while balancing a full course load at FIU.

I knew that my dreams of being a full-time college football writer were in sight. I felt that my work was beginning to speak for itself. During the fall, when the season kicked off, I got a credential to cover Hurricanes football games from the press box alongside ESPN and Associated Press writers. I began to feel like I belonged.

But reality set in quickly. As I sought advice from these reporters, they told me it was very likely that I was going to have to keep waiting tables after college if this was what I really wanted. They also suggested starting somewhere smaller — a place where I could pay my dues.

I understood, but grew disappointed and discouraged. I felt the work I had done was surely respected and appreciated by someone. I believed in myself, but why didn’t anybody else believe in me?

I continued to show up, but I began to doubt myself and my passion for writing. I truly never cared much for it. But I cared about the sport and I expressed my admiration of it in words that were only the sails. The attachment to football was the ship.

The season ended and I went back to my regular job, slaving away late nights, week after week after week. Then one February morning, I received a direct message via Twitter from a man I admired and respected, Andrew Ivins, who let me know about an opportunity.

Ivins covers high school athletes in Florida for 247Sports, a company owned by CBS, and is one of the most respected sources for college football and basketball information in the country.

He didn’t guarantee anything, but he made it known that he had been watching me from afar and recognized my work ethic. Without knowing anything about me but my name, he had recommended me to the CBS Sports’ hiring director. Soon, I began a more than month-long hiring process, one that was halted due to the coronavirus outbreak that’s devastating our world.

I was in limbo. The restaurant I depended on for money on Friday nights, Saturday nights and Sunday brunches closed without notice. That left me jobless and stuck, like millions of Americans today.

After nearly two weeks, I hadn’t heard back. Businesses all around were closed, people were encouraged to stay home to help stop the spread and the situation was worsening daily.

Then I got a phone call. It was from CBS offering me a full-time position to join their 247Sports team covering University of Miami football and recruiting. Chills trickled up my spine and elation followed. I accepted my dream job almost five months before I was set to graduate college.

All my emotions faded, but one — I was so grateful. Grateful for everything. Grateful for the fact that I was able to obtain a job during a time where, in some states, up to 64 out of every 1,000 people were filing for unemployment. I’m grateful that despite my doubts and my negative self talk, my hard work ultimately revealed itself to somebody I wasn’t even in the same building as 95% of the time.

This isn’t a “pat myself on the back moment.” This is a call to everybody reading this that there is hope and reward in pursuing a dream or a passion. Hard work wins and people are always watching. It only takes one person to see what you see in yourself for your life to change.

During a time like this, I encourage you college students to dig deeply into what you want. Reach out and seek opportunities for yourself. Be relentless when it comes to your future. Don’t get discouraged through the valleys. Believe in yourself and work hard. There is a place for you in this crazy world, even at a time like this. But you have to go out and get it.

(Editor’s note: This story is part of a series describing the transformational effect of coronavirus on the young. For more stories, click here.)