I got the call today. I had been waiting for it, hoping for it, keeping my phone out on my desk near my computer, jumping every time it buzzed. My heart beat into my head and ears and my hands felt clammy when I saw it was the number I had been waiting for.
I got the call today. The call that said, “We want you.” The call that will change my daily schedule and rhythm and routine, for the better. That call that will help me grow as a person and in my career. That call that fulfills one of my dreams.
I got the call today from NPR to work as a producer for Digital Media, working with the staff from All Things Considered.
Five years ago, I got a similar call, but not quite “the call.” It was from the executive producer of All Things Considered. He left a message with his British accent on my answering machine in my Chicago sublet in Lincoln Park. I heard his message at about 11 p.m. that summer of 2003 and was jumping around my apartment bursting with excitement. I thought my head was going to explode I was so elated. I was 26, fresh-faced, idealistic and ready to start my career.
I had made the top 10 of 250 people who had applied for an assistant producer position for the show.
The catch was, the call came a bit late. I had wrapped up my tenure at Forbes magazine and had already taken an editor role with a health care trade magazine covering long-term care. I had to be honest with him, and I was.
I interviewed with the executive producer on my drive to work the next morning along I-94 to Northfield, Ill. I usually listened to NPR, but I turned it off for our interview.
I told him off the bat I had started another job two weeks prior, but if given the opportunity I would fly myself out there to make it work. He asked me some challenging questions and then asked me what music I was into. I faltered. He rephrased it by saying: “What is in your CD player right now?” and I said sheepishly, “Andrea Bocelli.” I flushed. It was awkward and dorky and not cool enough for All Things Considered. I regretted that answer, and went over it in my mind several times for days after. Andrea Bocelli. Really?
I didn’t get a call back.
Two years later, I was dating the Australian S. and I met his friend whom he knew from the Johns Hopkin’s program SAIS. His friend and I talked journalism and he told me he was married to a woman who worked at NPR. He offered to put me in touch with her, and I eagerly accepted. She and I exchanged a few emails — in fact, I recall she worked at a publication in Hong Kong as did I — but coffee never happened. I let the ball drop because I let too much time pass before writing her back and then felt stupid for waiting so long.
About a month ago, when I got a call from NPR for an initial interview, I was again shaky and nervous. The call was from a woman named M. When I went into the actual offices for the in-person interviews, I recognized her. I cocked my head. “You look so familiar,” I said. Turns out, she was at Medill the same time I was eight years ago. She created the Web site for the magazine I helped create called Redefined Woman. I was a designer and wrote the cover story. While I didn’t interact with her much (we were both quiet), we were in the same classroom during the spring of 2000 on multiple occasions. She was the person I was so nervous to call back.
I got the call today. I’m going to work for NPR.
And here’s the thing. I’m taking Australian S.’s friend’s wife’s role (got that?). She’ll train me to take over her position. And in my new capacity, I’ll work closely with M., whom I vaguely knew at Medill, as well as the executive producer of All Things Considered.
Over the past eight years, I’ve interacted with all three, and they have all joined NPR at different times. They are three of the handful of people I’ve ever come across that work at NPR’s headquarters, out of about 800 employees.
The way it all threads back together makes it seem and feel like fate, but I can’t say I’ve ever believed in that concept. But if there is ever a time to believe, maybe it’s now.