(With my job change, it seemed like a good time to start a new blog with a new name since MVNUSID didn’t fit any more. So, here’s the start of the next chapter in my journey…)
One month ago today, I received a phone call that I wasn’t expecting. It was Mary Rauchenstein, the Vice President for People Services (what a cool and much more effective way to refer to the Human Resources department of a company) for Donatos Pizza.
Mary was calling to inform me that I was being offered a job as a field marketing manager with the company. While I say I wasn’t expecting the call, it was actually a call that I was hoping would come, but I had started to wonder if it ever would. I had first interviewed with Mary back in December when I didn’t really even know much about the job. See, I hadn’t even applied for it and didn’t even know that the position existed, but I was curious to find out more. I eventually had two more interviews with Donatos before December ended, but then the waiting game began.
Those of you who know me well know that I had been the sports information director at Mount Vernon Nazarene University for seemingly my entire life. The role began as a senior during the 1993-1994 school year and then lasted for the next four years after graduation as the assistant SID while also serving as a resident director. Then, in 1998, I was hired as the first full-time SID in the school’s history and the exciting journey in the college sports scene continued. The road was filled with numerous conference titles, national tournament trips, super student-athletes and coaches, and way too many exciting moments to even begin to list. It was an incredible job and I invested my heart and soul into the work and the people I crossed paths with.
However, the job was not without its challenges with the main one being time. I really had no control over my time and was at the mercy of the schedule of the teams and sometimes the weather. It was hard to plan very many personal activities during the school year and I kept missing more and more of my two daughters’ events. So, I began to entertain the idea of looking for something different.
It’s really amazing how everything transpired. When I met with Mary during the first interview, I knew right away that I was a long shot to get the job because I had absolutely zero business experience on paper and especially in the restaurant or food industry aside from the four years when I worked in the MVNU cafeteria to help pay my school bills. However, we hit it off really well and she scheduled a second meeting for me. I also got to meet Jane Grote Abell during this visit as I had tweeted her that I would be there and she encouraged me to stop by and say hello.
My second interview was with Tom Santor, who is now my direct boss. Tom is a great guy who handles the public relations for Donatos as well as working with both the company stores and franchise business partners. Once again, I knew that I was lacking in the experience for the job, but once again Tom and I hit it off really well and I left hopeful that I had at least made it a tough decision for them.
I was blessed once again to get called back for a third interview…this time with Tom Krouse, the president of Donatos. We had another great meeting and I left thinking about how thoroughly impressed I was with everyone I had met during my three visits to the home office. I knew that if things moved forward that I would have a lot to learn, but I really liked the people I was meeting and knew that it would be a tremendous opportunity for me if it ever came to fruition.
Well, a month and a half passed and I didn’t hear anything. I checked in with Mary a couple of times and she said that the process was still on-going and that some other people had entered into the mix. So, I tried hard to not get my hopes up too high, but deep down I really wanted a chance to pursue this new challenge.
Then, on February 7, I got Mary’s call. I was actually in my car driving to a doctor’s appointment and couldn’t even write anything down. She said she would send me an email with all the information I would need to make my decision and that she would follow up with a packet that would arrive on Saturday at my house. I was pretty excited and couldn’t believe that I now had this great new opportunity that would stretch me and challenge me, but at the same time give me a tremendous opportunity for growth. Mary said that she needed an answer by Monday. I knew what my answer would be, but I didn’t want to tell Mary right away.
Instead, I waited until Sunday night. I went to the local Donatos in Mount Vernon and ordered a large extra cheese pizza and then had them spell out YES! in pepperoni on it. I snapped a picture of it when it came out of the oven and I texted it to Mary. Pretty soon, she texted back and asked if she could share the picture with the rest of the leadership team. It was great to feel their excitement over the fact that I had said yes.
Next came the tough part. Turning in my resignation at MVNU on Monday was not an easy thing for me. The people in the athletic department have been my family. Paul Swanson, Jeana Howald, and Keith Veale have all been coaches at MVNU since before I came to college in 1990. Brian Humphrey, the athletic trainer, was a college classmate with me and then shared many of the same long, late night hours that I did. And the rest of the coaches and staff were people that I invested my time and energy into on a daily basis. I also needed to let the students in the class that I was teaching know as well as the student-athletes. However, after the initial shock wore off, I was blown away by the great outpouring of support that everyone showed as they were genuinely excited for me to have this opportunity.
Before I knew it, my final two weeks at MVNU had come and gone. I worked hard to get as much done as possible before I left, but it seemed like there was never enough time in the day to do everything I wanted to do. Then, on February 22, I worked my final game and I was officially done. Special thanks to the student section for chanting my name during the first media timeout as part of my send-off. It’s always been about the people and especially the students and that was a fun way to go out.
After having the following Monday off, I started working at Donatos on February 25. When I walked into the home office in Gahanna, I was greeted by my boss, Tom Santor, and then quickly realized that the entire family that calls 935 Taylor Station Road their work home was there to greet me as well at the top of the stairs. It was quite overwhelming and humbling and a cool way to start off my first day. Lots of paperwork and introductions followed and before I knew it my first day of just my second job was in the books.
The next four work days were amazing. Donatos has an onboarding program for all new associates over every level that requires them to work four days in one of the restaurants before they start their specific job. So, I spent four days working at the Worthington-Galena Road location with Tom Martin and his great staff and made pizzas, subs, wings, salads, and even more importantly friendships and memories that I will not forget. The entire staff signed an apron for me and I will keep it hanging on my office wall as a remembrance of how I started this new journey.
I have a lot to learn with this new job. I went from a job that I knew exactly what to expect pretty much every day to an entirely different environment where I had no point of reference. However, I am surrounded by incredibly talented people who believe in me and want to see me succeed as well as having fun along the way. As someone who loves and values making and maintaining relationships, I will soak up as much as I can. And I love to work for a company whose name means “to give a good thing” when translated from Latin. It seems like a perfect fit for me.