This summer I saw Charissa’s “I Want To” photo and was inspired by her desire to help others. She wrote a blog for me then about her failure. Here’s a follow up (hint, this story has an awesome ending!):
I took Professor Lonny’s advice. I heavily researched Compassion International (the organization I hope to work for one day), I interviewed current Compassion employees about their career, and I networked at every Compassion volunteer event I could attend like my life depended on it. What did his advice get me? One crazy senior year that has pushed me over the cliff of my comfort zone, into a river of responsibility, and drifted me one step closer to my dream career. I put myself out there to “get to the one”, as Dean Jarley would say, and am using everything I have learned during my years at UCF to make a difference in this world.
Compassion International’s sole mission is to release children from poverty. They do this through various avenues, such as Child Sponsorship, Complementary Interventions, and Clean Water programs to name a few. Compassion snagged my attention early in my freshman year of college. I have learned it is not an uncommon desire for millennials to want to change the world and I am drawn to Compassion’s global outlook. Through Compassion I sponsor a 10 year-old boy named Titus in Kenya, Africa. Titus has taught me that to change the world, I can start by making a difference in his world.
Making a long story short, I thought I was doing everything right and was on the track to success. Before I took GEB 3003, I had plans intern with Compassion during the summer of 2015, magically receive a job offer, and coast my way through my senior year with a job. This is not how things panned out. Who knows exactly why I was not accepted into Compassion’s 2015 Summer Internship program. I like to think it is a blessing in disguise- I found out I had a credit shortage and needed to take summer classes. Incomes my grudging acceptance of Lonny’s GEB 3003 advice. Not getting into the internship added weight to every career advice I could get my hands on. I realized I am not invincible and might need to try something else. I mentioned networking earlier, my advice: live by it. Networking helped make myself known to other Compassion employees as a passionate Compassion Advocate in the Orlando area and led me where I am today in my current title of “Chairman” for a Compassion’s pilot walk series, “Step Up.”
I understand now why there is an entire Major dedicated to Event Planning. In June of 2015, I received an invitation from a Compassion employee, whom I had met at a volunteer event, asking me to bring Step Up to life in the Orlando Community. The entire Step Up initiative is to shed light on childhood poverty and teach communities and young generations how they can “Step Up” and make a difference in the life of a child through this interactive walk. So there I was, thinking that an internship was my only “in” with this company, but through active networking I was thought of for this separate opportunity. It sky-rocketed from there. After forming an Orlando Committee the stress rolled in: since July, our committee has met every week with a Compassion employee to discuss the next steps, plan the venue, date, time, etc. All of us flying by the seat of our pants because, after all, this is a pilot event and no one has done it before. Then there comes insurance. Asking for corporate sponsors, planning meeting agendas, and all this adult stuff. Let me tell you, it’s weird. It’s weird to delegate tasks to people older than me. It’s weird to be studying for a Business Law test one moment and then get an email about needing waivers for your event the next. It is really weird to see “Charissa Casad, Step Up Orlando Walk Chair” as each email signature thanking participants for signing up.
I cannot ignore how much of my college experience has been applied to Step Up Orlando. The Cornerstone lessons on how to conduct proper meetings (that I thought was useless information at the time if I am going to be completely honest) turns out to be necessary every week for the past 17 weeks. I kept the business card of a donor from my Cornerstone project and he agreed to provide a huge food donation to feed Step Up volunteers. As a member of the Professional Selling Program, I can say that door-to-door sales used to terrify me. In the past month I have knocked on over thirty doors to ask for donations or to hang up a flyer- and I have been rejected too many times to count. Now I just let those rejections fuel my motivation to get a ‘yes’ from the next door. While the introvert inside of me has been suppressed (and is slightly freaking out) for this particular mission, my efforts are not in vein. I have found incredible joy in telling people how they can help release children from poverty and join our efforts to change the world. As of today, over $800 has been raised for Step Up, nine businesses have made gift-in-kind donations, and over 50 participants have signed up. I am 21 years old, a senior in college, and am already working in my field of choice.
As a student, I am beyond happy to say that I have found the type of “work” that I want to wake up to do every day (and that all of these college courses really do come in handy). As a member of the Professional Selling Program, I reflect on my current situation and am comforted by how one closed door lead to an open one. And as the Walk Chairman for Step Up Orlando, I am beyond happy to say that I am changing the world one step at a time.
I would love to see you there, November 7, 2015 CrossLife Church Oviedo, FL at 8am. Visit www.wecanstepup.com
Professional Selling Program, UCF College of Business Marketing Department