Have you ever met someone, realized how important meeting them was, and then looked back and thought wow I was close to not meeting them. Perhaps some things are fate or maybe we just get really lucky sometimes. Either way, that is how I got my start here at TCP; a complete stranger happened to be standing right where I needed her to be.
Career fairs are intimidating. They’re crowded, loud and full of people with tons of difficult questions. Unless you know exactly what you are looking for at one of those things, they could be a lot to handle. I went anyways because I needed hope that there was something for me out there but I had little success walking around and learning about companies that were either not excited about being there or they had nothing that stood out. I was on my way out, quite literally at the end of the row about to turn for the door, when I saw a smile. I had no idea what this woman was there representing, but I stopped anyways.
“Hi, I’m Anna!”
“Hi Anna, I’m Melanie. Nice to meet you.”
I had no idea at the time quite how nice it was to meet her but I stood with her, handed her my resume and learned exactly what it was that The Challenge Program, Inc. was and what they were looking for. It seemed like a match that was meant to be so I walked out with a new sense of hope that ever since has continued to grow every day. I remember her telling me she would contact me but I was so excited that I followed up a few times, definitely annoying her during what I now know is their busy time of year in April, until she replied to my email saying I would be one of their summer interns. What a moment it was for me to get accepted as an intern where they wanted me to come in and help them do what I love to do and get paid for it.
My first day loomed and I had almost forgotten what the stranger I met at the career fair looked like but her friendly face was the first one I saw when I walked in nervously on my first day. She was so excited and it could not have felt more meant to be. However, I was someone who was there a little less time per week and so I always worried I was not making an impression. Anna always made that feeling go away when she would thank me or give me positive feedback or send my work onto the President of the organization to look at which was a huge deal for someone like me who never had a chance to get her ideas heard.
Everyone has a story of how it all started so here I am intern turned, part-timer, turned full-timer, and I still cannot thank that stranger enough. Of course everyone I work with now has impacted me in many ways but to think about how close I was to walking out of the career fair that day without meeting Anna makes me forever grateful for the kindness she showed to a stranger.