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Dorothy to Toto: “We’re not in Kansas anymore!” Stephanie to Little Mo: "Thank God we're not in Kansas!"

If I was asked five years ago where I would be today, I would have told you I didn’t know where I’d be, but I would know what I’d be doing: Public relations. I can remember college orientation day, with hundreds of other terrified freshman being ask to choose the path we would take the rest of our lives at that moment. Okay, maybe I’m being dramatic, but I registered for some mass communications classes determined to get into the journalism school and I never looked back. Fast-forward four years and I was receiving my degree in Public Relations and Strategic Media while shaking the hand of the dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Now, I have always been a by-the-book kind of girl. After high school, college. After college, job. I figured that’s the way things happened. Being a native of Phoenix and attending school in Tempe, I thought it only appropriate, if not necessary, that I accept a job out-of-state to start the next chapter of my life. After all, I did well in school, had some fabulous internships with great relations, who wouldn’t want to hire me?

But there was a glitch in my plan. I graduated in 2009. The job market was at a recent all-time low, unemployment an all-time high. Students where desperately trying to turn their internships into fulltime jobs, or at the very least, not turn them over to the next class. I soon realized that no company was looking to hire out-of-state, even though I wouldn’t dare ask for relocation reimbursement. My order of operations changed from “get job, move” to “move, get job”. All this time I had thought the decision would be made for me, and now I faced having the option to choose where I lived. Sounds awesome right? Except that I had no clue where I would want to be.

After graduation, I set out to find my next stomping grounds. I packed up, crammed my poor little dog into a carry-on and started my journey. Little did I know how spoiled us Zonies are. Denver was too cold. Austin, too humid. LA was too busy and San Francisco too expensive. And let’s be real, do people really get anything done in San Diego other than their tans? I don’t think I could. Like a true Phoenician, I can’t drive (or really do anything, for that matter) in the rain, eliminating the Northwest from my list. I couldn’t fathom not being able to do a weekend trip to the beach so the Midwest was crossed off. The East Coast? Sorry, I’m straight up WC, baby.

I looked over my picky requirements and, through a process of elimination, found one place that met all my requirements: Phoenix, Arizona. I was trying so hard to move because that’s what I thought I should do, not what I wanted to do. I was afraid of the stigma of being a “townie.” But the only person labeling myself that was me. A quick click of my heels and I was on my way back to where I belonged.

When I returned home, it was as though the clouds (just pretend we have clouds for the sake of imagery) parted and a rainbow shown down. But instead of Emerald City, the other side of that rainbow was HMA Public Relations. Truly, my yellow brick road was paved by my neighbors, former employers and old classmates, all of who knew at least one of the four current HMA employees. Being in public relations, and too stubborn to settle for anything else, I was foolish to think that I could jump into a new city, with no one I knew, and get a job that is powered by networking.

I have only been at HMA Public Relations for three days now, but I can already tell that this is the next chapter of my life. It’s ironic how I was searching for satisfaction hundreds of miles away in unfamiliar land, and then I found it, less than a mile from where I attended high school.

It’s all about perspective. Places that used to seem tired are now places where memories are made. Rather than feeling stuck in my old ‘hood, I feel sentimental that I can walk the dog I have in my 20-somethings on the same streets I walked my beloved childhood pet. And hey, if I ever feel that I’m getting into a rut or bored with the same old, same old, I can always count on Sam Fox to open a new concept.

Follow me: @StephLough

Stephanie Lough
Stephanie Lough
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

12 Comments

  1. Congrats and welcome to HMA! You’ll love it there.

  2. Stefanie says:

    Stephanie,

    I definitely felt the same way. I thought I needed to leave Phoenix to prove something. Fast forward to me being in Portland soaking wet and totally sun deprived. Why do we not realize how AMAZING Phoenix is until we leave it?

    Can’t wait to be back in the sunshine, congrats on the job!

    S

  3. Aunt Erin says:

    Congrats, kid! So happy to hear that happy…

  4. Welcome, welcome! We’re glad you’re here, too.

  5. Welcome to the team — this is definitely NOT Kansas.

  6. Sarah Geiger says:

    You are with a great group of people! Hope to see you at our next PRSA New Pros event in April! http://www.facebook.com/PRSAPhoenixNewPros

  7. Dana Hughens says:

    Congrats on your new position. Loved your post. Jealous that you get to work with Abbie. Have fun!

  8. Sandra Fink says:

    Great story, HMA is a great place to land.

  9. Grandma Joyce says:

    Congratulations, Splendid Lady!

  10. Welcome, Stephanie. You couldn’t have landed at a better firm. And you are now a welcome member of the entire PRGN family.

    Anne

  11. It is great to see views that generate perception and are effective anyway.

  12. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for the kind words everyone! I look forward to all my future endeavors with HMA and the entire PR community. Keep a look out for more of my posts, I’m just getting started!

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