Howdy Howdy Girls! That is how people talk in the south west right?? I jest. My name is Gillian Knight and I am a recovering Arizonian living the second city life in Chicago where I work for a tremendous organization called Growing Power. Before I get into the nitty gritty of why Growing Power is a dope org, I should probably give you a little background.
After graduating from Desert Mountain and the IB program (shout out to my geeks!) I headed off to Lake Forest College (in a suburb of Chicago) and got a BA in Psychology and Politics. Now. Tell me what do you do with those degrees? I am guessing most of your answers involve more school or something involving voting and I was ready for neither. The summer after I graduated I tried getting a “grown up job” and to be honest it was really a struggle, I had been a great student, I had excellent internships but in the real world? I had squat.
I was complaining to my big sister (yes, I joined a sorority, more on that perhaps another time) about what I was doing, and she had a friend who had just completed the Lutheran Volunteer Corp.
Now before you tune out because, ew gross church, or tune in extra, let me say this. LVC is a program to connect recent graduates with experiences living in cities, working at organizations that are social justice focused while living in community (ie with other people) and focusing on spirituality, sustainability and living simply. It is as religious as you (the participant) want it to be.
I applied on a whim, had a great interview with LVC and then they sent me off to do phone interviews with the job placement sites. I crushed the interviews in the Twin Cities and in Baltimore, but I had my heart set on going back to Chicago because the placement was at an organization that had to do with food (I honestly couldn’t tell you what those other organizations did now…getting old is hard guys).
I finally scheduled my phone interview with Erika, my now current boss, but the interview went horribly; those are her words, not mine. To truly set the stage I need you to remember a world when touch screens phones first came out and I had just received one as a graduation gift (an upgrade from my blackberry lolz).
So I answered my boss’s questions and finally it comes to the part where I ask some questions, and right as she gives her answer the phone cuts out. MY FACE HUNG UP ON HER.
It took me 3- 5 excruciating minutes to get Erika back on the phone. She was frazzled, I was mortified, we wrapped up quickly and I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to move in with my parents with no job. Awesome. Two days later a girlfriend of mine invited me to Vegas so I rubbed some of my last dollars together to make the trip (again, another story for another time), and within 10 minutes of getting to the hotel my phone is stolen.
So if I had any hope of hearing back from Growing Power, it vanished in that moment.
Two weeks passed, I have moved home at this point, and my new phone rings. It’s a Chicago number. I pause. I answered the phone and a voice on the end of the line says “Hi, its Erika from Growing Power, what are you doing for the next year?”