Removing the Blinders

Kayce D'Onofrio  Follow

When I was in the sixth grade, I had my life planned out to a tee (I even have the document to prove it). On the last day of school, we had to write a letter to ourselves that we would open on the day of high school graduation. While most kids wrote a nostalgic letter about their life as a sixth grader, mine was all about my future and the goals I would need to achieve in order to get there. Going to Colgate University was major goal #1 (check) and becoming a television producer was major goal #2 (check).

If the countless number of “career day” presentations taught me anything, it was to “find a job that makes you happy.” I thought, “Okay, well I don’t want to do some ‘boring desk job,’ but rather something exciting and unpredictable.” I knew I couldn’t be an actress or a singer, so I chose the next best thing. I was certain that becoming a producer was my destined career path…until I became one.

As a Colgate student, I tried to gain as much media exposure as possible to enhance my knowledge of and experience in the industry. A major in communications, media, television, etc. did not exist at the small, liberal arts college, so I had to explore beyond the curriculum. My best option was joining the Colgate Entertainment Group (CEG), a small club that connected current students with alumni in the industry. “This is perfect,” I thought. “Now I’ll meet real-life producers and actually step foot onto a television set!”

Soon after joining CEG, the school organized an “immersion trip” to New York City which allowed us to meet Colgate alumni in the industry. The itinerary was insane. We were scheduled to visit NBC, Nickelodeon and CNN. I could not have been more excited. And then there was a fourth itinerary item: Prosek Partners. Once I learned that it was a PR firm, I thought “I guess it’s a good idea to diversify the itinerary for the other folks? Whatever, it’s only 45 minutes and then we get to see the ‘cool’ stuff at NBC.” Like I said, I wasn’t allowing any alternative thoughts to enter my mind. I was destined to be a producer, not a PR person. But then, Russell Sherman spoke to us about Prosek, what the firm does, who they work with and what financial PR is. I was very intrigued, but for only a moment. I immediately put my blinders back on and scoffed at the idea of working in PR over TV. However, that presentation always stuck with me. It almost felt like it haunted me. It was like the universe was trying to send me a subliminal message, but of course, I suppressed it and suppressed it hard.

My time at Colgate came and went in the blink of an eye. While I was sad to graduate, I could not wait to start the next chapter -- a career in television. Soon after graduation, I accepted a job as a Production Assistant at a major cable news station. I couldn’t believe it; all my dreams were coming true…until they weren’t. It took me almost two years to realize it, but I eventually accepted the fact that I was not destined to work in television. The stress and unpredictability of television news was too much for me. Despite my intention of finding a job I love, I was working at a job I hated. (I believe that’s what they call the ultimate irony). I was drowning and found myself sacrificing my personal life and for what? To avoid working a conventional, 9 to 5 desk job? Would that really be so awful? Wait, is it actually what I want? Yes. It’s exactly what I want. But what would I do? Then, Prosek suddenly popped into my mind and the rest is history – I told you that presentation always stuck with me.

I’ve been with Prosek for a few months now, and it would be an understatement to say that the firm has exceeded all of my expectations. To this day, I still cannot articulate why Russell’s presentation stuck with me for all these years, but I knew at that moment that Prosekians are a rare breed. When Jen Prosek says that Prosek employees embody the perfect balance of determination, creativity and respect, she means it. Every employee eats, lives and breathes by these values day in and day out, resulting in an ideal work environment.

When I reflect on my path to Prosek, I realize that being a television producer was not my destination but rather a mile marker along the way. In the spirit of full disclosure, accepting my job offer at Prosek was a bittersweet day. While I was excited for the next chapter in my professional career, I was devastated knowing that what I thought was my destined career path turned out to be the exact opposite. It’s pretty bewildering to be so certain about something for so long to then find out that you could not have been more wrong. And while I’m the last person to admit when I’m wrong, I’ve never been so happy to be so wrong in my life. It’s amazing what you can see when you remove your blinders. 

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