The End of Funemployment

All good things must come to an end, especially when it's your unemployment status. As stupid as that may sound, the last 3 months were a tremendous learning experience and allowed me to do some things that I'll likely never be able to do again in my life. I'll touch on more of those in a second, but in the interest of not burying the lead, the good news:

I've accepted a part-time with ESPN 103.3 FM in Dallas. I will be doing everything from hosting on nights and weekends to local Sportscenter updates during our local and network programming to original podcasts for ESPNDallas.com to some off-air work. It's an absolutely amazing opportunity with my dream company. Everybody knows the affinity I have for ESPN as a company thanks to the number of people who have helped me over the years and my experience there as an intern. This is one of the four owned and operated affiliates meaning I'm actually working for ESPN. Seriously, Mickey Mouse is on my paycheck.

When I went back to Newhouse in February, I talked to a number of classes about networking. This job is a direct result of the networking excursion I took in January. While in Bristol I met with a man named Rob Savinelli from the talent office who suggested I meet with Tim McCarthy in New York. Tim suggested I reach out to Tom Lee, the program director in Dallas. Tom and I talked and while he had nothing at the time, he certainly helped me look elsewhere and gave me feedback. He then had something open up. We talked. He's now my boss.

What you're probably wondering is "wait...you did all that without a Syracuse connection?! I didn't think that was possible because a) it's you and b) you went through 3+ people in the media industry and that's not mathematically possible." The person who introduced me to Rob? His boss. Laurie Orlando, SU alumnus. Go Orange.

To my younger friends who may be reading this: network and do it when they don't need you and when you don't need them. It didn't matter if I was happily employed, Tom is someone I would've wanted to talk to. I did need him and even though he didn't have anything, he was willing to talk. A few weeks later, circumstances changed and here we are. I couldn't be more excited to work for Tom because I know he wants to see me get better. He and his team are going to coach me which is something I've wanted at this level on a day-to-day basis since I graduated. This excites me far more than being on the air in a top 5 market.

This 3 month period taught me a lot and allowed me to do a lot. I learned a lot about financial responsibility and planning. When "do I have enough for rent?" is a real question, you don't have much of a choice. Luckily the answer was always yes. I got to travel and spend time with people in a fashion that I never would be able to if I was in school or employed. I got 3 weeks in New York. I got 2 weeks in Syracuse. Those trips were amazing and I'm so glad I got to take them.

I got to work on stories and write in a way that I wanted to. There are no editors (except that time Professor Nicholson called me and reminded me I can't spell) and there are no rules. It's how I want to express my opinions and my take. It's seeing a story like who the hell is this Marshall Henderson dude and going with it because I can. It's a journalistic innocence that can't be found anywhere else. I wasn't being graded. I wasn't being dictated to or constrained. It was just fun.

What I'll remember most about this period in my life though is not something I learned or somewhere I got to go. It's something I was reminded of and that's just how good people are. It's not hard to find the worst of society. Go to any website and scroll through the comments section. Go on Twitter. Go to a Rutgers basketball practice.

Throughout the past three months though, I've seen the best in people. It started immediately with so many members of my actual family, my JPZ/AER/SU family and other people I've met along the way reaching out with support. It was Matt Llewelyn reaching out and saying if I needed anything from a meal to a job, he was here for me. I told him I'd meet him for lunch and I've spent the past 3 months working for him which is how the answer to "do I have enough for rent?" was always yes. I also have a totally new appreciation for the the restaurant industry, something every human being who's ever eaten in one should have.

It was my friends in Syracuse who put me up during my stay or perhaps more accurately in some cases (hi Corey, who's office was my suitcase storage facility) put up with me. Oh and yes Fitz, you can have special recognition because you stepped up big time and lord knows you love the attention.

Saving the best for last I cannot thank my family enough. My parents who were there for me on the worst days, never lost faith and always gave me what I needed, whether that be support or a reality check (i.e. I'm going apartment hunting this weekend and not to the Final Four...thanks Mom...kinda). My grandparents who put me up in New York for nearly a month and would have let me stay longer if my parents didn't make me come home. My aunts, uncle and cousins who would check in and see how things were doing and if I needed anything. You guys are awesome. I don't know how you go about classifying "the best family in the world" but I know I wouldn't trade you for anyone else.

Last but not least, I want to thank you. I have no idea who "you" are but you've found your way here. I launched this site to initially announce my unemployment which was on December 7th. It's now April 4th and nearly 7500 people have read and listened to what I've had to say. I remember the first post I did and seeing the hit count start to climb and going "woah, I have an audience." In my industry, having that audience is everything. It was that tiny bit of affirmation that despite my employment status, I was doing something right.

This site will obviously be scaled back now that I'll have real work to do. There will be at least one more podcast that I'm hoping to do tonight. There will be blogs this weekend on the Final Four and thanks to Heather Prusak they'll be supplemented with the great work by CitrusTV, who is in Atlanta. Past that, this will be an outlet for me to talk about things outside of Dallas and maybe a few in. So until next time, thanks for reading, thanks for supporting me and I can't wait to get started on what's next.

Craig