When you were 17, what did you want to be?
I always wanted to be in wedding planning, because I loved events management, and everything that goes along with it, the invitations, the decorations, the fanfare. Plus, I definitely am a sucker for romantic comedies. I love the meeting stories and the love story.
How did you decide to attend University of Colorado - Boulder?
I really wanted to go to California. I've always been into the sunshine and the sand and the beach life. But 2008 happened and my college fund took a huge hit. The reality was, if I stayed in state I could study abroad, graduate without any debt, and maybe even have a little bit leftover.
But I didn't wanted to just be some homebody that didn't experience different places, because I've always thought that's important for who you are as a person. But at the end of [college], [I realized] it was the best decision ever. It made me re-fall in love with Colorado, their business school is phenomenal, and I got to study abroad, which I wouldn't have been able to do if I had gone out of state.
How did you choose your major?
Actually, I was one of the few people that knew what major I wanted. I think there's a lot of pressure when you're going into college to decide exactly what you want to do. But business just seemed like an obvious major for me, and there was no confusion or doubt about that. I didn't feel like it was a hard pick, because I just felt like I was majoring in life.
You have to wait until sophomore year before you pick your emphasis, but I always knew what I wanted to do because finance and accounting don't appeal to me, and management I just felt like was not as challenging as it could have been. I picked marketing because I liked the creative component and I like the sales component. And again, I feel like marketing applies to every single profession out there.
Where did you study abroad?
I did Semester at Sea because I hadn't done much travel outside of America, and I couldn't pick where I wanted to go. We started in the Bahamas and then we went to Barcelona, Italy, Croatia, and Greece. We were supposed to go to Egypt, but it got replaced with Bulgaria last minute. And then we went to Turkey and Morocco and then back to America in three months during the summer.
It was really fun, but I think other people got more immersive semester abroad programs where they related to the culture and the community. This was a wonderful experience and it taught me a lot about myself, but I don't necessarily feel like I got as much insight into places as I would have liked. The point of the Semester at Sea was to learn more about traveling and figure out where I wanted to go [in the future].
How did you get from college to where you are now?
I had that internship for the events management company in college, and then I also worked for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. They have a really good internship program, so I learned that I was good at sales through that. I also worked for a finance company in college. I started working for them as a marketing intern, and my job was basically to get dentists and doctors and medical residents to come to educational dinners that we hosted. We did a lot of cold calling, and email blasts and stuff like that, and I was actually really good at it. The other people were afraid to pick up the phone, and I didn't have that problem.
Then when I graduated, I wanted to work for them in a marketing capacity, but they persuaded me to work for them in finance. They said, “You could make a lot more money and have a lot more freedom in finance. And we can teach you everything you need to know, but we can't teach people how to be personable or how to do sales, and that's one thing you already do.” So they painted this picture for me that seemed like everything I wanted, very entrepreneurial, I’d own my own business and have this freedom and flexibility.
I moved to the San Diego office. Once I passed my exams, the Series 7, the Series 66, I was fully licensed and then I was an advisor. I was an advisor for a full year in San Diego and I was miserable. I didn't have work-life balance. I worked from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. at night sometimes. And I wasn't making any money, because it was all commission-based and who wants to invest a bunch of money with a 20-year-old who just graduated from college? I feel like I moved out there thinking that I could find people based on my sales skills and my personality, and now it seems really silly and naïve and obvious that that wouldn't work out.
I was with them for almost two years, and I just remember talking to my friends and family about my job and not being excited about it anymore. And then I quit. I had always said that after a year of being an advisor, if I wasn't making a livable income, I was going to make a change. It was my year point, and I was unhappy and not making a livable income. So I just quit with no other plan.
I took two weeks off with money that I didn't have, but I needed that time to collect myself and get my pieces back together and start thinking about what I wanted to do. I didn't wanted to throw away all these licenses that I had worked so hard for, so I was pretty much only applying for finance firms, but feeling like nothing was different from the problems that I was having already. And a lot of it almost seemed worse.
I was talking to one of my friends, Crystal, about not knowing what I wanted to do and not feeling like I had a path or anything like that. Crystal used to be in finance, and at that point she was a [travel nurse] recruiter. After I left that night, her husband, Tyson, said, “Why don't you see if she wants to be a recruiter? Crystal brought it up to me, and I went in, and I interviewed for Aya Healthcare.
I almost didn't want to go, because I'm actually afraid of hospitals and all things medical. It didn't make sense to me to be involved in the medical field; I didn't know that much about recruiting, and I didn't want to throw away those [finance] licenses.
I didn't even understand what it was before I went in to interview. A travel nurse recruiter is essentially, we have hospitals out there that have needs for various different reasons like crisis situations like hurricanes, or somebody's out on maternity leave, or a lot of seasonal places like Arizona or Florida will hire travel nurses to cover when their censuses go up in the winter. There is huge demand all across the country, and as a recruiter, it's your job to learn about your nurse and what they want and they need and then guide them - kind of like college counseling - along the path to finding something that's going to be in line with where they want to go.
So I didn't know what I was getting into, and then - I know it sounds silly - but within the first 10 minutes of that interview I just felt like I was home. It just felt like I could be myself, and I liked everything they were saying. The recruiter that I was interviewing with was very honest and up front and transparent, really explaining the industry to me. It was a fascinating industry, and this company seemed to have it together and know what it took to make their people successful.
It will be three years in October, and I love it. The company itself is just fun. Everybody that works there is bubbly and work hard, play hard. We all go on trips together and have these really amazing corporate parties. We have a nutritionist and a yoga teacher. But then the work we're doing is also I think really meaningful and interesting. And I also like the thrill and the adrenaline rush of the competitiveness that goes along with it, of beating everybody else and getting my nurse that job. It's like you're working with a bunch of your friends, not only your coworkers, but also your nurses. I love this company and as long as they'll keep me, I want to stay. They treat their people right, and I feel like there is no ceiling to what you can do. They're my people.
Looking back, what seems clear to you now?
Do internships. I really thought I wanted to be a wedding planner, and just working in an internship for six months, I figured out that that's not what I wanted to do. But the part of it that I liked was the interacting with people component. I took that and held that with me and realized that that was something I wanted to look for in future careers. And then I did the Enterprise Rent-A-Car thing, and I realized that I actually really enjoyed sales. And same thing with the finance thing. It taught me how to be really good at cold calling, and it got me used to making a 100 calls a day.
I think that internships can really teach you what you like, what you don't like, what you're good at, what you're not good at. When you're younger, you think you have to figure out the right thing to do right out of the gate. And I think that if you take that pressure away from yourself and just do what seems right in that moment, eventually you'll end up exactly where you're supposed to be.
The finance part sucked, and I wish that I would have known that I wouldn't make much money. But at the same time, I feel like you have to do those things, because I don't think I would have been as successful as a recruiter if it wasn't for getting beat up in the trenches of the finance world. I'm really happy with the way that my path played out. I think you really do end up where you're supposed to be if you work hard and listen to yourself. Reflect on what makes you happy and what doesn't, and make changes.