Timehop has quickly entered the running for my favorite app. Every morning, I read the Skimm, check my inbox, and open up the yellow dinosaur to see what it was I did in the past 10 years on this same date. Most of the time, I’ll see a picture of my dog (obviously a great sign), some college shenanigans, and a Facebook status from the days of “Ashley Glatz is…”

This time of year, however, I see the constant reminder that I graduated from the University of Missouri’s award-winning Journalism school, a semester early, and with honors. The Missouri Method lives in newsrooms across the country, while I sit in my less-than-expected sales role. It’s a rude reminder that my hopes and dreams of becoming the next Erin Andrews or leading the charge for Disney’s global advertising remain just that, dreams.

From the moment I turned 13, I jumped at the opportunity to write for the school paper. In high school, I was promoted to Sports Editor, then Layout Editor. I didn’t even apply for another college – I knew I was going to be a Tiger, and thanks to my high ACT scores, I was placed into the program as a freshman. When I first stepped foot on campus in the summer of 2005 for journalism camp, I knew I found my home. Two summers later, I went to campus for Summer Welcome, where I first heard Profession Cyndi Frisby introduce the idea of “Strategic Communications” – a subsection of the program that taught students about the world of public relations and advertising. As someone who watched the Super Bowl for the ads only, I felt this was my best shot in the successful career I was imagining.

The next 3.5 years were some of my best. You can read that later.

After graduation, I took the first job I was offered – an associate media planner role at an agricultural agency in the city. My first day of work saw 2.5 inches of snow, along with my first “I can’t come in” email thanks to my beloved Mitsubishi Eclipse. Overall, I lasted 6 months. Sorry Professor Frisby – media planning was not for me.

The next three years saw a variety of industry-adjacent jobs, with a focus on social media. I landed a job at the top PR firm in St. Louis, a company that was proactively shoved down my throat during my last three semesters of my program, and gave me the best experience I could ask for over the last three years.

Here again, life happened, and we moved across the country. More on that at a later time. (Seriously. I need to write something about it. It was kind of a big deal).

Looking back now, I’m not sure I would have changed anything, but I would have enjoyed the following pieces of advice:

  1. Adulthood is hard. I don’t know if I thought it would be easy, but when I stepped off the stage at graduation I definitely didn’t think it’d be like this. There are amazing things and horrible things that merge together for a crazy intersection of tears, laughs and growth. Appreciate it, but don’t expect it to be simple.
  2. There is no perfect job.ย Someone once told me “your job will never fill you up,” and I wish they told me sooner. What matters most is your family, your health, your friends, your hobbies. Not your 9-to-5.
  3. Introduce yourself to alumni.ย Coming home from the grocery store the other night, I saw a car drive by with a familiar looking license plate cover. I got uncomfortably close to the car to realize it indeed said “Missouri Tigers,” before deciding against honking and screaming M-I-Z across the way. However, it brought me great joy to know that 1,315 miles away from Columbia, MO, there was another person who knew the words to Old Missouri. Plus, without it, I’m not sure I would have been hired at two of my previous jobs. The Mizzou Mafia runs strong.
  4. Lean on each other. I’m a firm believer in the quarter-life crisis, and I’m not the only one. This is why happy hours and brunches and text messages were invented – to be able to communicate with others living similar but different lives. Utilize them.
  5. Don’t stop dreaming big. Why do we stop asking “what do you want to be when you grow up?” At 28, I’m still not entirely sure I know the answer. I know what I’m passionate about – I’m just not sure what path will lead me there. Luckily, I’ve got another 37 years until retirement to figure it out.

Cheers to the class of 2017, and an extra *clink* for those who came before them.

Ashley Parks

December 29, 2017

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