Written and Digital Media-ificated by Taylor Likes.
I loved every bit of my time at Greenville College. Even the parts that I hated, I loved. It feels like just yesterday that I was staying up until 3 AM for no good reason and then skipping my morning classes… Kidding, of course! I was always the model student. Just ask Deloy Cole, he’ll vouch for me.
I know, it’s really only just begun, but life after college has been a crazy ride so far with plenty of highs and lows. As stressful as the ride is, it’s all been worth it in the end (you know…so far).
The adventure started literally hours after graduation. I said goodbye to my family and friends who had come to see the ceremony, and I hit the road for Joplin, MO, where I would start my summer working for Christ in Youth. Little did I know, as I drove down that interstate, I was driving passed what would one day soon become my new home. But we’ll come back to that.
This was my second summer working with Christ in Youth. (For those of you who don’t know, Christ in Youth, aka CIY, is a ministry that puts on week-long conventions for youth groups with bands, speakers, and amazing worship experiences across the country.) I was hired as one of the touring Live Video Directors, which meant I was responsible for all the cameras, screens, projectors, videos, lyrics, motion backgrounds, and more at the event. I was privileged to have the West Coast tour this year. My tour began in Joplin and included Cedarville, OH, Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA, Phoenix, MO, and Corvallis, OR. I was also blessed with an amazing team that helped me to expand my skills and knowledge even further.
Side note: To all who are about to graduate, I highly recommend doing some traveling before you have to start paying student loans. If you can find a job that let’s you travel like I did, take advantage of it. This summer was one of the best of my life. I experienced so many new things (I had never been out West before) and met so many new people. I can’t stress this enough.
Throughout the summer, I spent a lot of time looking/applying for jobs and I tried to make connections with people that I met on the road. I was hoping to find a job doing video, graphic design, or live production for a church or ministry. Unfortunately, CIY didn’t have any full-time openings for me at the time. Things were going really well and I thought that I would probably have a sweet full-time job by the time the tour came to an end.
But then, of course, the tour ended and I had no job. So I went home to live with my parents and decided to take some time off. For the first few weeks, I spent most of my time doing absolutely nothing (it was nice to have zero responsibilities for a while after finishing school). It was a very refreshing time, but it wasn’t long before I started to get restless and decided to begin the job search process again.
Since I was now at a point where I could tell employers I was able to start immediately, I had a lot better luck this time. I scored some phone/Skype interviews and a few in person interviews. The most exciting prospect was a church that I already had some personal connections with in Connecticut. They flew me out to visit the church and were ready to offer me the job. There were a lot of pros and cons to taking that job. But after a lot of prayer and consideration, I realized that Connecticut was not where God wanted me. So I returned home again, jobless.
This process continued for a few months and I started to become really discouraged. Sitting around with nothing to do all day had gone from a blessing to a curse. I found myself in a bad cycle of laziness and lack of motivation. I would sleep in until noon, because I had no good reason to be up any earlier. Once I finally got out of bed, I would waste away the afternoon on Reddit and/or Netflix, hanging out with friends, making silly, pointless videos, and occasionally taking a glance at job openings online. Then I would stay up until 3 AM just because I wasn’t tired, since I’d slept in so late. This cycle continued almost every day for months.
Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to do something. It was almost Christmas time, I’d been out of college for half a year with nothing to show for it, and the time to start paying my student loans was quickly approaching. I told myself as soon as the holiday shopping season ended, I would swallow my pride and get whatever job I could. Even if that meant working at Best Buy or Starbucks or McDonalds. No more excuses. No more laziness cycle. I prayed a lot that God would provide some sort of miracle job so that I wouldn’t have to do that. But all signs were pointing to me having to suck it up and take whatever job I could get.
One day, I was talking to an old friend about life and whatnot and together we came up with a wonderful, albeit financially irresponsible, plan. We both felt we needed to get away and rejuvenate. So we decided to spend New Years in Toronto. We did our best to plan the cheapest vacation we could. We booked a room in a hostel for $25 a night, found as many free things to do in the city as we could, and decided to only spend money on food and gas. All-in-all the trip would cost us close to $600 combined.
Planning the trip gave me a new energy. It was definitely not a financially smart move, but I felt like it was something I needed to do anyway. Making these plans snapped me out of my laziness cycle a bit and prevented me from slipping into that infamous Holiday Depression. And that’s when God decided it was time to throw me a bone.
I was talking to my sister a few days before Christmas and joking about how I should get a job at her school (Southeast Missouri) and move in with her. Even though I was mostly joking, I decided to go ahead see if her school had any openings in the marketing department or something. It didn’t. But then I looked to see if there were any church jobs in the area. There wasn’t. But in the process, I did come across a job at a church in Springfield, MO that caught my eye. This was the job description:
Position: Director of Media Ministries at Schweitzer United Methodist Church
General Description: The Director of Media Ministries oversees and is responsible for the church’s online presence primarily via the website, video production, art and design, audio-visual worship and audio production. The Director actively recruits, trains, and leads others in serving in the church’s media ministries.
That job description aligned almost perfectly with my skill set and is almost word for word how I describe my degree. It was practically a checklist of the different areas I focused on while in school. I did some research on the church and was very impressed with what I learned. Schweitzer was a church that truly focused on outreach and helping people. Something about it just felt right. So I sent in my resume and a cover letter. I’d had enough rejections at this point that I knew not to get too excited. It was highly likely that I would never even hear back from them.
Lo and behold, two days later I received a phone call from one of the pastors at the church. He wanted me to come visit the church and and see if we would be a good fit before doing an actual interview. The only other place that had asked me to come visit was the church in Connecticut and that had been so promising. I told them I would love to come visit. And right after Christmas, I did. It was perfect. The church was big enough to have a real need for the various aspects of digital media, but not big enough to feel like an impersonal megachurch. There was a good mix of young people and older people. Both traditional and contemporary worship services (which is something I love in a church). The people I met during my visit were very friendly and inviting. After this visit, I felt very strongly that this was where God wanted me to be.
The next week, I went on my trip to Toronto. The trip was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I can’t emphasize enough how amazing traveling to new places can be!
When I returned, the church asked me to come back down for an actual formal interview. The interview obviously went well because they asked me to create some sample graphics for an upcoming sermon series and to return for a third visit, on a Sunday this time. They loved the graphics I created and after my third visit, they offered me the job.
After a year of seriously searching for a full-time job, 8 months of being a graduate, and half a year of complete unemployment, it finally happened. I had the perfect job.
I accepted and quickly found an apartment in Springfield, signed a lease, packed up everything I owned, and by the first week of February I moved. With a trailer and a full car load, my parents and I hit the road. The same road that I had driven down 8 months before, not realizing that it would one day be the road that took me to my whole new life.
Today, I’ve pretty much settled in to this new life. I pay bills now; rent, utilities, student loans, etc. I go to bed at decent hours and I wake up before the sun rises most days. I spend my days working at the best possible place for me to be right now, doing what I love and what I know God wants me to be doing. Some may say I’ve become a real adult now.
It isn’t without it’s challenges, of course. Making friends is an entirely new ball game after college. And even with a steady income, it’s amazing how consistently empty my bank account is. But I’m prepared to deal with these challenges. I often feel like I’m not, but when it comes down to it, I always pull through.
I owe a lot of my success to my time at Greenville College. In almost every aspect of my job and adult life, I can find a way to relate it to something I learned at GC. Whether that’s making videos or graphic design, or even communicating with other people and working in teams. GC has definitely been a huge part of shaping me into the man that I’ve become.
To close, I want to offer some words of encouragement to those of you who actually read this far. Students: Don’t take for granted your time at Greenville College. You’ll never get to experience a life, surrounded by friends and teachers who genuinely care about you and your future. Cherish it! Those who are graduating and don’t have a job lined up: Don’t give up hope; don’t be discouraged. God doesn’t work on your schedules and time frames. But He does have a plan for you and He won’t let you down!