It was the last evening my aunt Sherry would be in town and I was alternating between the desire to do something and my natural inclination to spend a few last moments with my Godmother.
I’d been wanting to get involved in something meaningful, even if my time here was drawing to a close. Through a series of fortunate events I discovered a group of French speakers that gets together on Thursdays to chat over coffee or wine.
But I needed the extra push to go to that first meeting because timing (as is often the case) seemed to be an issue.
I’m glad I went because this group has shaped the end of my summer in more ways than I could imagine at first. Here are two notable things I’ll remember from the experience:
1. A discussion group has more to offer than conversation (although that’s great too). I don’t know about you, but when I think of “networking” I envision conferences and meet-and-greets and awkwardness. My dad would say that’s the wrong assumption to make, but that’s neither here nor there. In the almost-month I’ve been involved in the French Meetup, I’ve met some pretty interesting and connected people — especially from the International community in Louisville. There’s a whole nonprofit network dedicated to Greater Louisville’s International Professionals and Grace, the association’s ambassador to France, is also the leader of the French Meetup. Her friend Sanait runs another nonprofit called Unikids, which sends school supplies to Ethiopia. Both of them have encouraged me to get involved, inviting me to take part in their respective associations. As timing would have it — in this case “perfect” would be the modifier of choice — Louisville’s WorldFest was coming up and they could use my help. Of course, participating in this festival of cultures was arguably more advantageous for me than for them, since I met even more people and heard even more ideas…All this from joining a discussion group!
2. Opportunities are out there, and a lot of them can’t be Googled. I’ve spent a lot of time this summer brainstorming and researching both freelance and other job opportunities. The most inspiring information I’ve gleaned, however, has come as a result of getting out there and getting involved. Isn’t this always the case in situations of location? One person might say “there’s nothing to do in Louisville,” while another thinks its the “most happening” city. Thankfully, I’ve never thought of myself as falling into the first category. I’m just saying: sometimes these things aren’t apparent at first glance. You have to do more than read the Chamber of Commerce’s listings or even the independent newspapers’ suggestions for what to do. I found out about the French Meetup Group through an interview I did for a Louisville Magazine article. The interview itself was the result of trying a new restaurant and heeding my friend Erin’s suggestion to pitch that story. A question of chance? I think it has more to do with refusing to wait for an opportunity to arise. As Erin said, “in this market, we have to make our own opportunities.” That’s an active verb right there.
(Aside/Proof that she knows what she’s talking about: Erin created a power-point pitch for the social media cause, presented it to a company while interning for another and before the second company could offer her a job [they did] the first realized she was too good not to be paid and snapped her up! She’s now working for company #1, a big consulting firm headquartered in Louisville.)