Why listening to my heart changed my life.
Updated: Feb 8
I was 18 the first time I came to New York City, and I still remember the feeling I had when I stepped off the bus from Penn State upon my arrival.
I remember thinking: “I’m SO moving here.”
Months before graduation, I started interviewing for jobs at ad agencies and publishers. But deep down, I knew I wanted to work at a record label. I had zero experience in music - I couldn’t play an instrument to save my life, and I had no internship experience in the business, either. Landing a position at a record label would be no easy feat. But I was determined.
I had one relevant contact, Nick, who worked at Atlantic Records. I had been keeping in touch with him since we had met a few years prior, calling him weekly from State College to see if any jobs had opened up. “No, nothing yet” was what he told me each and every time. But I didn’t lose hope and stayed persistent.
Three weeks before graduation, Nick called me. There was a marketing assistant role opening up, and they needed to hire someone fast. He put my resume through, and gently warned me this would be a long shot with zero music biz experience.
At my initial interview, I met with my two potential bosses. They discussed the role, gave me a chance to walk them through my resume that clearly showcased my lack of experience in music AND marketing, and didn’t hesitate to point out that this could make it difficult to hire me.
Ten days later, I was back in NYC for my 2nd round of interviews, plus a final interview with a well-known ad agency.
I don’t know if it was my young confidence, my varied resume showcasing the numerous part-time jobs I'd worked since I was 15, or the way I promised that “I was a fast learner”. Atlantic’s human resources department called me days later with an offer.
$22,000 annual salary plus overtime.
The same day, I got a job offer from that well-known ad agency….$35,000 annual salary.
My mind raced. I knew my heart was with Atlantic, but I couldn’t help but think….
How will I pay rent?
Will I eat ramen noodles all year?
Can I even enjoy living in New York with that salary?!
It was hard to decide, especially when my friends were getting entry level job offers for double the amount I’d be starting out with. On top of that, money was always an issue for me growing up - there just never was enough. Now I finally had the opportunity to take a job that paid a lot more, and I felt stuck.
In a panic, I called my boyfriend at the time. He reminded me of what my dream was, and that I needed to listen to my heart and not worry about the money.
How could I not worry about the money? I worried and stressed about finances my entire life, and now I had the opportunity to break free (or so it seemed).
After 24 hours of soul searching, I turned down the higher paying gig and nervously accepted at Atlantic Records, already picturing my nights in with ramen noodles in a crappy apartment.
But saying yes to this changed my life.
Several years later, I look back at that work experience fondly, and to this day it's one of the greatest roles of my life. I had the opportunity to work with creative, brilliant, and talented people and artists. I made friendships with people that are still in my life today. I experienced and lived more life during this period that I never would have imagined! And, this opportunity opened even more doors for my professional life down the road than I could ever hope for. I could never put a dollar amount on it all, as this experience would significantly exceed what my paycheck ever was.
And funnily enough, I worked so much overtime; I made double that salary my first year, anyway! I don’t think I ate ramen noodles once, and I had more fun those first years in New York than I ever dreamed possible.
This was a wonderful lesson to learn early on in my career. While money is indeed important, an experience can far exceed it. I'm so happy I listened to my heart.
Tell me, what decisions have you made with your heart that have changed your life? Share below!