On July 31, 2015, I walked into COED Media Group’s New York City office, well, lost. Not lost in the sense of being unable to find the office, but lost in the sense of who I was going to become outside of it.
I was heading into my 5th year at Rutgers University and had never held an internship before. My grades were garbage and my motivations cloudy — like most 22-year-olds, I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to be. But I could write. I could always write.
My “skill” or “eye” or “talent” or whatever-you-want-to-call-it for writing came at an early age, as I always seemed to prefer essays over exams.
“How could you want a test over a paper?” I’d ask my friends. “When you write a paper, the answers are literally right in front of you! You just need to write it!”
It took me over two decades to realize this, but my preference for essays instead of exams was actually just my writing talent manifesting itself — a talent I came to realize that not many others have.
Luckily for me, my transition from lost college kid with raw talent to full-blown professional was, relatively, smooth.
Four weeks on the job as an intern and I had already accumulated almost half-a-million views. Needless to say, the team already in place at COED was stunned, as I was lapping some of their most senior members. My internship began on the last day of July in 2015, and by September of that same year, I was a freelancer writer. By December, I had received a full-time offer. All that stood in the way was me actually finishing school, which was no easy feat.
The exact details are hazy, but my graduation from Rutgers University actually came down an intense after-class discussion with a professor, and not just any professor, but one of those teachers who think they’re as noble as knights. This class was a “CORE COURSE” for my Communications major — a class I absolutely had to pass. As life goes, I was hovering at about a 69% (#nice) due to my lack of attendance to the night class (attendance was one of my MANY issues with college — I pay to be here, if I want to bail on class, that’s my right — just because you want more people to hear you talk, Mr. Teacher, doesn’t mean I have to suffer because of it).
“Please, Professor Householder,” I pleaded. “I’ve done the work, I’ve passed the exams, I just couldn’t make it to class. Mondays and Wednesdays are when I go into the city for my freelance job. It’s almost impossible for me to make it to class!”
“Please, Professor Householder! My loans run out after this year — I have to pass this class or else I won’t be able to afford school anymore!”, I begged.
Householder was a tough S.O.B. — like I said, he was one of those people who believed teaching was amongst the planet’s most admirable professions — but I was desperate, so I fired off a shot that, whether it worked or not, would end the conversation either way:
“Professor Householder,” I said as I took deep, steady breath, “There are far bigger things at play here than your policies — this is my career we’re talking about here. Ten, five, ONE year from now, it won’t matter that I missed your class, no matter what the reason was. But what will matter is if I don’t graduate from this school and get this job. This is a life-altering moment for me and its in your hands. Please take care of it.”
And just like that, I walked out of his office without a clue of what my final grade would be.
As you can assume, Householder ended up giving me the C, allowing me to graduate from Rutgers in time to accept the full-time job at COED. Now, almost two years since that moment, here I sit. Now, not only am the most Senior Editor at COED, but I also write about movies & comic books for another website, as well co-hosting a successful soccer podcast. In the two years since I walked out of Householder’s office armed with nothing but fear of the unknown, my life has improved exponentially. Because, truth be told, while I was a horrible (I mean HORRIBLE) college student, I’m an excellent employee.
The saying “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” is terribly worn-out and cliched at this point — especially amongst millennials — but it’s damn true. I’ve been employed for two years, and yet, the last day I can remember working is the day I took my college finals.
Whenever I tell someone what I do for a living (“Well, I work for COED, but then I also write about comic-books & host a soccer podcast), people are always so quick to compliment me on how cool they think it is that I get to do what I enjoy. And trust me, it is — but it wasn’t always this way.
Before my first day as an intern — before July 31, 2015 — I thought my gamble in the game of life had gone wrong. Like I said, I was lost. While everyone spent their college years studying business or finance or law or any of the other trending careers in this country, I spent mine banking on talent, passion, and karma. And for a while, I truly thought I had chosen wrong. It’s important to remember that when I was starting my internship, most of my peers had already begun their careers. It’s easy to take credit for a gamble after you’ve reaped the rewards — it’s a much different story when the dice are still rolling around the table like they were a few short years ago. Luckily for you and I, the dice landed my way.
So who do I have to thank? Lots of people, really, myself included (though I’ll spare you of my self-adulation.)
First & foremost, my parents: despite the fact that their son was neither the most diligent student or disciplined kid, they never tried forcing me down a road I didn’t want to be on. They always believed in me. During a time when most parents would mandate their kid to “get their grades up or they’re coming home”, my parents let me grow and mature at my own pace. They believed in me and I’ll never forget the security I felt because of that.
Second, the team at COED, specifically, Bob & Dennis. Bob, the Chairman of COED Media Group (now officially Team Vyral), gave me my first career opportunity at a time when I wasn’t sure I even deserved one. Dennis, the Vice President, essentially taught me everything I know about the business. Still working side by side today, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without him.
Third, and finally, are you guys: the audience. Without the readers, there would be no COED Media Group or Summer 2015 internship. There wouldn’t be a freelance writing program and a full-time offer waiting for me on the other side of graduation. There wouldn’t be salaries and raises and health insurance and all the other things that keep me alive. Without the audience, I wouldn’t have a career — I wouldn’t be here.
But I am here. I’ve made it.