August 10, 2011
By: Caroline Allan
Account Executive, Cardinal Health
I’ve had this dream since I was a kid that I wanted to live in North Carolina. Sure I vacationed to the Outer Banks once or twice and thought the beach would be cool. Other than that I had no real solid reason for wanting to move there. It was like this uncontrollable urge in me I couldn’t fight. Something was telling me that I belonged there. So, for as long as I can remember, it’s all I’ve ever wanted.
As any bright college student knows, the smartest way to test out your geographical cravings is to apply for internships in that area. Being the bright college student that I am, I looked all over North Carolina for an internship that sounded just right. And, as they always say, you come across what you’re looking for right when you stop looking for it.
Sitting in Journalism 270: Introduction to Public Relations, I found myself being stuffed with information on the best tactics used to implement the perfect PR plan. As I turned the page of my textbook, a colorful text box caught my eye. “Top 25 Independent Agencies in the United States”. I saw an agency listed in North Carolina. No kidding, I thought. The agency was named Capstrat and it was located in Raleigh.
I skipped my next class due to the excitement of my latest discovery. I rushed home, fired up my laptop and checked out Capstrat’s website. It was my first and only experience with love at first sight. Their writing was humorous and full of voice. There was no structure or limitations. Their work was creative and uplifting and most of all, it looked fun. That urge in me began to take hold yet again. I must have this internship. I found a contact and emailed her politely letting her know I was interested in a possible internship. Of course my fingertips wanted to type out “This is my calling! I want this internship! Hire me! Hire me!” The sanity in me deemed that slightly over the top so after the email was sent, I sat there satisfied with myself and calmly refreshed my inbox for the next several hours.
I woke up the next morning and naturally the first thing I did was check my email. And there it was, the holy grail of emails, a response from my beloved Capstrat. It was a simple response too, just a thank you for my interest and some further questioning on my background. This emailing went back and forth for a few months. Every time I checked my email and saw one from Capstrat, my smile would stretch clear across my face. They had told me not to apply for the summer intern position until February so for the following months, the nights before I went to bed consisted of me playing scenarios in my head. Where would I be when I found out I got the internship? Would I cry? Would I be out with friends and then have to shush them when I got the call, then hang up and shout “next round is on me! I’m going to Raleigh!” A different scenario played out in my head every night, but there was one scenario that became very real, a scenario I never did play out in my head… what if I didn’t get it?
It was finals week, winter quarter. I was bundled up at my dining room table making flash cards for Media Law 411. I had sent my resume, cover letter and clips to Capstrat over a month ago and was still checking my email 96 times a day. On refresh number 97, an email from Capstrat appeared in my inbox. The subject line: Internship Interest. Oh my God. This was it. The moment I’ve been waiting for since October. I closed my eyes, said a quick prayer, and clicked on it.
“Hi Caroline, thank you for your interest with Capstrat. Unfortunately–”
I stopped reading. No. No. No. This wasn’t happening. This was all a nightmare. I squeezed my eyes shut, the harder I squeeze the faster I’ll wake up. When I opened my eyes, I wasn’t waking up in my bed. I was still sitting at my dining room table, staring at the disappointing email with blurred vision from the tears that overwhelmed my eyes. My dreams shattered before me as I read the rest of the email.
After finals week, I found myself spending spring break in Arizona with family. Due to the lack of sleep I had from exams, I rolled out of bed around noon one day .The first thing I noticed was that my hair tie was oddly on my left wrist, for I always keep it on my right. Have you ever seen that part in the movie Tin Cup where he shifts everything from his one pocket to another and it shifts his whole mindset? That is me with my hair tie. Before I could even switch it to the other wrist, I noticed a green light flashing on my phone. I unlocked it to see who the missed call was from. As my fingers slid across my touch screen, my jaw hit the floor. “Missed Call: Capstrat 10:53 am” I walked out into the kitchen where the rest of my family had already showered and moved on to lunch. I ignored their stares as I stood in pajama pants and an oversized t-shirt when I blurted out, “I have a missed call from Capstrat.” My family just stared at me. “Well… call them back.” Ah, my mother, always so logical.
I locked myself in my aunt’s playroom and attempted to lessen my excessive heart rate. My fingers trembled as I hit the call button on my phone. Deep breaths. Don’t sound like an idiot. Don’t stutter. “Uhhh…uh, hi… hi, this is, um Caroline Allan.” Way to stutter AND sound like an idiot. The polite woman on the other end of the line seemed pleased to hear from me. She informed me that they in fact did have an extra spot for me and they were interested in having me work for them this summer. I attempted to muffle the sound of me gracefully falling out of my chair with a cough. I accepted the offer. No questions asked.
I walked out of the playroom with the best feeling I’ve ever felt in the whole world. Happy. Relieved. Accomplished. Anxious. Well, I guess with the best four feelings. I shared the great news with my family and spent the rest of that vacation the way vacation is meant to be spent, relaxed and at ease.
Fast forward two months of anxious waiting, and it was June 20, 2011. The big day. My father had typed out the nine-hour drive with fool-proof directions, directions I was sure to mess up. My gas tank was full and my heart was pounding as I chased my dreams all the way to Raleigh.
After moving in and getting settled at the house I was sub-leasing, it was finally my first day at Capstrat. I walked into the huge building, listening to the melody of my high heels click-clack along with the rhythm of my nervous heartbeat. I was given a tour of the entire office, most of which my head might as well have been on a swivel for. I couldn’t believe I was finally here. I was shown to my pod which came with a stuffed animal dog, a Styrofoam dart and a toy rocket. In fact, all of the interns had random toys in their pod. I couldn’t help but laugh.
The work days that followed consisted of doing research, editing releases, transcribing videos, you name it. That’s the best part of working here; you’re not treated like you’re some bottom of the food chain intern. You don’t have a boss breathing down your neck checking in on you every five minutes. Every day is different. The people here are kind and truly make you feel welcome. Whether it’s an exchange of brilliant ideas or an office erupting in laughter, this place is never quiet.
I suppose it was somewhat courageous of me to pick up and move to a city I didn’t know. But as my dad once told me, you just have to live each day and make your dreams come true. And as I sit here at the front desk of Capstrat, typing this very blog, I can’t help but smile when I look down at my left wrist. Because there is that very hair-tie, untouched, from the morning I woke up with it on my left wrist. The morning I was offered an internship with Capstrat. The morning that changed my whole mindset. The morning that got me where I am.