A California Girl’s Search for Her Professional Niche After A Cross-Country Move

A few years ago, my family and I packed up a U-Haul truck and left California to make our way to our new home near Boston, Massachusetts. We needed to be closer to my husband’s family so we left our Cali family and friends, my community college marketing job, the sunshine and our pool to learn how to rake leaves and shovel snow. There have been benefits though, boating in the summer on lakes with very few other boaters (because they’re all at the beach!), being surrounded by history, fall foliage, fresh lobster rolls, and those beautiful Cape Cod beaches.

When we arrived I started wondering what I would do professionally. After 20 years as a community college marketing director I was a bit lost. I realized that the 15 community college marketing directors in Massachusetts were not retiring anytime soon so that was out. I found a position at a community college as a director of grants development. Grants are kind of like marketing, right? Wrong! That lasted nine months. After serving in that role, my respect for grants professionals is through the roof! They are incredible, patient people and I will honor them every chance I get. I know my strengths and grants is not one of them.

At dinner one evening, my daughter urged me to start my own marketing agency. “Come on Mom, you’ve done it all and you’ve done it well. Why not help your colleagues? Be the agency you always wanted when you were a community college marketing director. Be different. Do the work. Help people.” She knew that my heart and soul are with community colleges because my life was profoundly changed by Santa Rosa Junior College and hers by Massachusetts Bay Community College. My professional mission has always been to help these incredible institutions change lives. I owe that to so many people who helped change mine. But could I do it? My own company? I told her I would but only if she did it with me.

That night we had our company name and our business plan. Two weeks later we had our first clients. My daughter eventually chose to move in another direction, actually, she fell in love and didn’t want to travel as consultants must do. I thought maybe I should do that too. So I’d apply for a job, then get a contract with a community college. This happened 5 times. I took that as a sign that I was to move forward with 25th Hour Communications, Inc. So I did. And the rest is history.

I am so proud to be able to help marketing directors achieve their goals and change the lives of their students. Does that sound a little sappy...maybe. But it’s true and it’s from my heart. Every member of our team feels the same way. We’re growing and now we’ve invested in technology so we can help our clients protect their data and their dollars and get the results they need from marketing and advertising.

I wake up every morning excited and sometimes scared, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because somewhere out there is a mom like me, trying her best to get ahead in life by attending a community college, studying at night like I did, working and trying to raise her family. I know that the visions of success and the hope in her heart will carry her through those long nights of studying and those days when she’s dragging because she’s exhausted. And maybe she saw an ad that my team created and placed for her community college, and maybe that ad is what led her to believe in her dream, chase it, and eventually achieve it.


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Jennifer AriesComment