The most common question I get when I meet new people is, “Where are you from?” That’s a loaded question for me and I almost feel obligated to tell my whole story. So for your benefit, here’s my story…
I’m originally from Hawaii and most of my extended family still lives there. While I loved growing up wearing flip-flops everyday, the education system wasn’t the greatest. My parents decided the best place for me to get a good education and have options for college would be Virginia Beach, Va. located 5,000 miles away.
It took a couple years for us to actually move, but when we did it was in the middle of winter. I traded in my flip-flops for boots and saw my first snowfall within a week. Aside from the weather, the culture was also completely different. I went from the laid back mentality of the islands to the strict rules of the South. Luckily I found an escape in music and started playing the oboe in the band.
I loved music and when it came time to apply to colleges, I wanted to major in music. To ease some of the anxiety my parents had with my decision, I chose “Music Business” as my major. This required some accounting, economics and finance so I wouldn’t be totally in the dark if music didn’t work out. Few schools had that option as a major, so I settled on the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.
After spending four years in the suburbs of Miami, I returned to Virginia Beach to find a job. I refused to move to New York or Los Angeles unless I secured a job first. It took a year of applying before I started working at a music agency in Virginia Beach. I worked there for 3 ½ years before moving on to manage a Disco/Motown show band. It wasn’t a requirement to wear sequenced bell-bottoms and platform boots to work. (Thank goodness!) My perks included the privilege of attending President Obama’s Inaugural Ball as well as an extravagant wedding in the Dominican Republic. While the shows were fun and I enjoyed managing the band’s logistics, I hit a ceiling with my business knowledge. I had a yearning to learn more about business and marketing.
This time I took advantage of Virginia’s in-state tuition and attended the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. for my MBA. I always enjoyed marketing and understanding why people buy the brands they do. For my summer internship, I worked in the marketing department at STIHL Inc.’s U.S. Headquarters in Virginia Beach. My project focused on researching the Millennials (aka Generation Y) and Generation X. After understanding the general behavioral trends, I developed ways STIHL could engage the younger generations.
I graduated in May 2012 and I was still looking for the right job. My husband got an email from LinkedIn titled, “Jobs You May Be Interested In”. It listed a job for John Deere Electronic Solutions in Fargo, N.D. He was really interested in the job, but was extremely hesitant to apply since all we knew about Fargo was that it was cold. I pushed him to apply since I thought it couldn’t hurt to have the experience of interviewing. About a month later, he got an offer and we decided to pack up our dog and drive 1,500 miles at the end of summer.
Living in Fargo is the first time I’m not living near an ocean. However, Minnesota somewhat makes up for it with all of the lakes. This is also the first time I’ve been able to see miles and miles over land because nothing is blocking my view. There’s something serene about the sun setting over the fields. We can also drive a few miles out of town to look up at the night sky filled with stars and the Milky Way. Plus, the people in Fargo are extremely friendly. I’ll have to remind myself of these positive features when it’s the middle of winter and 40 below outside!