As I look forward to this coming school year, I am doing my best to prepare for the continual unpredictability that 2020 brings. While I have many goals and aspirations for this year and the year to come, I am constantly reminding myself to take things one day at a time. I am a marketing major at James Madison University and am on the football team as well. I am setting goals both on the field and off the field. With regards to my “off-the-field” goals, I am hoping to graduate with a GPA of 3.2 or above and narrow down my interests to at least 3 industries that intrigue me and begin searching for jobs there. I am looking forward to some of the classes I am taking this year to not only gain knowledge, but to also get a better idea of what I specifically am interested in. These classes include analytics, global marketing, integrated marketing communications, and professional selling. I am excited for all of them, and maybe slightly more about selling since I am on track for a concentration in professional selling.
COVID-19 has changed the way we work, socialize, and go about our daily lives. Unfortunately, our football season was cancelled due to the virus. While it seems completely unfair, we are far from the only people affected by these changes; it is something everyone is struggling to deal with. The only reasonable way I can cope with all of this is to really do my best to take advantage of the opportunities I have right now.
I am so fortunate to have had this opportunity with the ChamberRVA as the YRichmond intern for the summer. Especially with so many internships having been cancelled, I am so grateful that I was able to have such meaningful work with amazing mentors. The experience really opened my eyes to new things I might be interested in going forward (like working for a chamber!). I was also able to meet many different people with different backgrounds in Richmond-I can really see myself being a part of it.
When I think about where to live after I graduate, being within a reasonable driving distance to my hometown is the most important factor to me. However, I do not mind driving as far as 8-10 hours during a road trip. I have a few places I am interested in living after college, but I am doing my best to keep an open mind about it all. A lot of people from my school are interested in cities such as DC, Charlotte, and Boston. I think a big draw to these areas is the “bigger city life”, and the fact that kids want to try something different and want to be around the social life and crowds when they are younger. I also think these areas provide a lot of known opportunities for business since they provide a diverse number of industries to work in. Another factor is that some of our friends already work in these areas, so word-of-mouth plays a role. While I am definitely keeping an open mind to these, I want to also be able to find a place that I would enjoy and not be completely influenced by my peers. For me it is important to keep in touch with friends and being able to visit them whenever would be something I would like to do. However, I know there’s so many places out there that aren’t talked about as much (at least in my circle), and I don’t want to limit myself from any opportunity.
In the first few years of college, I did not think I would consider moving to Richmond at all since I’ve been here my whole life living in Goochland County. However, as I have gotten older and, more recently, with this awesome internship experience, I am much more open minded to coming back here. I think I could see myself experiencing Richmond in ways that differ from how I viewed Richmond growing up. Working with ChamberRVA has shown me the vast opportunities in the business community that I didn’t even know existed. I think Richmond is a growing city that is really all about what you make it. I like this idea for a number of reasons, the biggest one being that there is a great mix between big companies and startups, both of which I want to work for just to gain the experience. I also think Richmond would be a great place to start a business which I am interested in. It has a diverse market and opportunities to grow and expand. Whether I start out here or come back here one day, I could definitely see myself living in Richmond.
I am a big believer that opportunities present themselves at the right times; in other words, things happen for a reason. As I see my peers preparing to enter the “real world” and get “adult” jobs, I see this recurring stress people have over not having everything figured out. I fall victim to this same thing, and I am still working on catching myself when it happens. While I am majoring in marketing and pursuing a concentration in sales, I do not think sales is something I want to do my whole life. In fact, my favorite class so far has been a business law class that I would’ve gotten a C in if it weren’t for the extra credit opportunities. Maybe I will find myself in the law field some day! Looking towards my last year I think studying sales is going to be a great experience and something that I can apply to whatever job or career I pursue after college. I am still learning that you do not have to have it all figured out in your 20s, or even 30s for that matter. The media and our perception of people’s lives push us into this rat race that is not all bad, but certainly does not need to be the standard for our generation.
I honestly have no idea what I want to do when I get older. I have ideas of what I might do after college: marketing/sales, advertising, analytics, consulting. I am trying to balance seeing myself in a position with keeping an open mind to all positions- or better said, I am still a little confused and have no idea what I want to do. However, I do know that if I pursue things that I love and things that intrigue me, I’ll find my way through and not regret a moment of it. Opportunities are all about what you make them, and I apologize for my clichés, but they are clichés for a reason. My end goal is to start my own business one day, but if you ask me any more details my answer will be the same-just not sure yet.
Thinking more specifically towards job searching, I am leaning towards taking my redshirt year in football, so the earliest I could get a job is in the spring of 2022. After physically typing that it seems so far away. I know even though it may seem like this, it will come sooner than I think, and I need to start looking now. I have been in touch with several companies this year as I was searching for an internship, as well as meeting with people at career fairs. I am going to do my best to meet as many people at different companies at JMU’s career fairs this year, as well as network with whoever I can. I think these career fairs have helped me talk through what companies look for in certain positions, and also open my eyes to certain companies I wouldn’t normally think of or ones I haven’t even heard of. I am excited for what this coming school year has to bring.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jack Sroba is a senior at James Madison University majoring in marketing. He balances school with football and is focused on setting goals both on the field and off the field.