This week I celebrate my first year at Meridian Group and what a ride it has been! Working for an agency was never in the plans for me and if you know me, you know I love plans. My path to my position has been quite an interesting journey. My professional career began when I was 17 years old as I joined the United States Navy as an intelligence specialist. Since then I have worked as a local marketer for a national restaurant chain, coordinated national championships and developed community relations programming for a national athletics association, and planned and executed charitable events for both an NFL team and a MiLB team. Through my many different work experiences, I have gotten to see and do a lot of things that most people only dream of, but I have to say that my time at Meridian Group has been my favorite and most rewarding professional venture yet.
I will never forget the day I received the invitation to work in the community relations department of a nearby NFL team- I cried like a baby. All of the work and countless hours I had put in over the years had finally paid off. I had landed my DREAM job! A few weeks in, I realized I was very wrong. Sure I got to plan once-in-a-lifetime experiences for fans and those in need, but while I truly loved every aspect of the work I was doing and knew I was making a difference in the lives of others, the working environment was just short of a nightmare.
Constant belittlement, and a lack of support from my supervisors eventually took a toll on me and I chose to leave the organization after several months. My heart was crushed, knowing that I would be leaving behind the world that allowed me to live out so many of my dreams including coordinating a Make-A-Wish experience that aired on ESPN, but I knew that I was worth more than the way I was being treated.
In all of my work experiences, I have never felt as valued and as appreciated as I do here at Meridian Group. Coming into my position as a public relations assistant last year, I knew I was going to face a massive learning curve as I did not have a traditional PR background. There were so many words, phrases, and processes that I had to learn very quickly in order to keep pace with the busy world of public relations. Luckily, I have received an incredible amount of support from those I work with. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve popped into my supervisors’ and colleagues’ offices with questions. Not once have I felt like I was bothering anyone or asking a stupid question. The folks I have been surrounded with at Meridian Group are one-of-a-kind and I am very appreciative of our agency’s culture.
We are encouraged to collaborate with one another to build upon our individual and team talents. We get to relish in the pleasures of casual dress. We can indulge in an adult beverage after a hard day or long week. We have regular fun and teambuilding events like the annual “Q”, our Christmas party, and day trips to places like Dave and Busters. We enjoy summer hours, providing us with a little extra personal time on Fridays during the warmer months. We receive random surprises and incentives like ice cream on a hot day or a book aimed at professional development. We are given extended time to spend with family and friends during the holiday season that is essentially unrivaled in our industry. We are encouraged to be ourselves and showcase our individuality. Yes, the job we are tasked with can be quite stressful while managing numerous deadlines and client expectations, but our hard work is certainly rewarded in more ways than I can count.
Though I left the seemingly glamourous world I once wanted behind, I have found something even greater. I am still able to employ my various talents and utilize the unique skill set that I have developed as I work on accounts like Wounded Warrior Project®, NACDA (National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics) and STIHL. I am still able to work in the sports industry, give back to causes greater than myself, and make a difference in the lives of others. In addition to getting to do so many things I love, I am constantly learning and being forced to challenge myself while receiving guidance and mentoring from those I work with. After a year at the agency, I have learned more than I can ever put into words, but one of the biggest lessons is that working for a busy, successful business can and should be fun and rewarding. I look forward to a long and enjoyable career at Meridian Group and wish others the professional happiness I have found.