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Graduation is supposed to be a time of celebration, joy, and excitement. Unfortunately, this wasn’t my reality as I concluded my studies at Boston University. This past January I earned a Master’s Degree in Television Production from BU. As a graduate student, I had this picture perfect path of what I thought my life would be like after I graduated. I envisioned that after commencement I would live in Los Angeles, work for an impressive television company and go directly from school into a full-time job.
I had the luxury of completing my graduate work in Los Angeles. Boston University offers a remote campus in LA for TV and Film students looking to start their careers in entertainment. As my semester began to wrap, I vehemently applied to every job I could find in hopes of getting an interview. For weeks I researched every major TV network and production company. I spent hours tailoring my resume for various roles and confidently applied to different jobs with my fingers crossed.
Once my semester ended I stayed in LA for a few more weeks, had some job interviews but it never worked out in my favor. During the holiday season, I moved to Atlanta to stay with my best friend from undergrad at Morehouse College. Each day I would walk a mile in the southern heat to the Robert W. Woodruff Library on the campus of Clark Atlanta University and sit for hours looking to find an opportunity for myself. One day, I happened to find an entry-level role in social media marketing at the Oprah Winfrey Networking and the job description was one that I felt I could fulfill.
When I saw this job posting I applied and looked for a way to leverage my application. After a quick Linkedin search, I found a woman who worked in the OWN marketing department and was an alumna of Boston University with my same major. I felt this was a divine sign indicating that the job was indeed for me. I reached out to the woman and she told me she would “keep an eye out” for my resume. Luckily a few weeks later I scheduled an interview with the hiring manager for the role.
At the time of the phone interview, I returned back home to Ohio. Before the call, I remember talking to my mom about how excited I was and how I felt my job search was finally coming to an end. A few minutes into the talk with my mom, my phone rang; it was the hiring manager at OWN.
The conversation was very enjoyable. We discussed my strengths and weaknesses, my passion for television and even how Oprah had tweeted me 5 times. At the conclusion of our conversation, I felt good knowing that I gave the interview my best. Two weeks later I got the harsh news that OWN would not be moving forward with my application. It was hard for me to understand where I went wrong or what happened. I did my best, gave it my all and was still turned down.
I truly believe that rejection is divine redirection. The next day I decided that after 106 job applications, and failed interviews, that I would pause my job search and spend more time at home with my family. Going from undergrad in Georgia, to graduate school in Boston, to moving to LA and back to Atlanta with summer internships in between, caused me to miss a lot of time at home. Getting that denial email from OWN lead me to believe that maybe I should take a break and trust my own path. With this new thinking, I decided that I would spend time at home, read lots of books and most notably launch a podcast.
I believe that our lives are best shared, and so I decided to launch my own podcast. It’s called The Chris Sumlin Podcast and is available on all major podcast platforms such as Apple and Spotify. Currently, there are ten episodes, all ten minutes a piece. It is my plan to continue to create content that my listeners can learn from and be inspired by. I have an episode on how to write a book, how to be a true friend and even a debate on who is the male Beyoncé. Although I wasn’t hired by OWN to work in marketing and help tell their story, I hope to use this podcast to inspire my peers by telling my OWN.