Day 23 and 24: Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears

These two stops mark the last two stops on my trip before I head back home to Indianapolis. It is a little hard to believe that it has been 5 weeks since this all began. Overall, it has gone quick, but there were some days/nights that I doubted I’d ever make it back to Indy in one piece. My last week ended great!

Minnesota Vikings: The meeting I had scheduled with the Minnesota Vikings was one of a kind. To call it a meeting would not be correct. I actually had an interview with Lisa, the Director of Human Resources. I went into the “meeting” thinking it would be more on the informal side, but I was happily surprised when she began asking me about my resume and future aspirations. It was only fitting that my second-to-last stop would be more along the lines of an interview. 

I was told that the Vikings were fully staffed, but that they did offer legal internships for a person seeking an entry-level position, such as myself. Not only did I learn about the positions offered by the Vikings, Lisa was also kind enough to share an enormous amount of advice and ideas for my future pursuits. We discussed the reality of working in the NFL, i.e. the long hours and demands, and the enormous odds that one faces in attempting to be a General Manager. However, Lisa did use the word “shot,” as in “I would say there is a shot,” when describing my personal odds of reaching such a tough goal. With so many variables that have to all come together to be named as the General Manager of an NFL franchise, that my goal was not completely dismissed was motivation to continue to keep working towards it.

My meeting with Lisa lasted about 30-40 minutes and then I was back in my car to make the 7-hour trip to Chicago. When I sat into my car I felt excited, but I also felt overwhelmed, again, with the unknown of my future. Additionally, I am just about exhausted from the travels and the idea of driving 7 hours only made me feel even more tired. However, I was excited to see some good friends in Chicago, so I pushed on and made it to the Windy City just in time to see the Vikings v. Saints kickoff (I’d be lying if I said I was not bias towards the Vikings winning after the meeting I’d just had earlier).

Chicago Bears: My 31st stop on my trip, and the last stop before I head back to Indianapolis, was with the Chicago Bears. I woke this morning feeling excited to see what was in store for me. During my telephone conversation a few days ago, I was told that I would not be able to meet with anyone. I was only going to be able to check in with security and then proceed to drop off my resume at the front desk. 

Unfortunately, I did not make it past the security check point. The gentleman was very nice and assured me my information would make it to the Director of Human Resources, but he said the do not allow anyone access without an appointment. Without an appoint, I was only able to leave my information with security.

During my conversation with the gentleman at security, I was told that people show up at the gate attempting to drop stuff off often. He said it was somewhat common for even players to stop and drop off films of themselves, in hopes of landing a roster position. Although my physical 6’3,” 185lb frame most likely most likely differs quite a bit from these hopeful players, I think I can relate to the hunger and determination they feel to break into the very difficult business. My stop with the Chicago Bears was short, but at least I had a pleasant conversation. 

My 32nd stop will be back in the great city of Indianapolis. I have yet to reach anyone with the Colts, but I plan to continue those efforts first thing Monday morning. I will keep the blog updated with information about a possible meeting with a representative of the Colts. 

Also, I am going to continue to update the blog with any future news that may be job related. I am not sure what employment I will have in the next few weeks/months, but I hope to find something that will give me experience that I can apply to an NFL position. I am not sure that the blog updates will be on a daily basis anymore, but I plan to update followers with any new news that comes along, no matter how small. There is an option at the bottom of the page that allows for one to give their email address and a notification will be sent when a new post is posted. This may be the most sensible option if one is still interested in following along, since I am not sure if I will have enough new news to suffice for daily updates. 

Thanks for all the support. Stay tuned for future and feel free to email me with any questions. My email address is chrisgmcgaha@gmail.com.

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Day 22: The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field

Green Bay Packers: Wednesday turned out to be one of the best days of my trip. I left Cedar Rapids, Iowa around 6:30am and headed towards Green Bay, Wisconsin. I was fortunate enough to schedule a brief meeting with Melissa, the HR Coordinator for the Green Bay Packers. After our phone conversation, I was under the assumption that the meeting would be very brief and informal, a hand shake more or less. However, when I arrived to the Packers facilities, Melissa was kind enough to go above and beyond my expectations.

Once inside Lambeau Field, I made my way to the administrative offices and told the administrative assistant I was there to meet with Melissa. Melissa greeted me in the lobby area, then told me she had reserved a room for our informal discussion. Our conversation would last almost 30 minutes.

It was so beneficial to be able to sit down with someone in an HR Department and ask the questions that are tough to answer without an experts opinion. For example, I was unsure of when and how would be the best time/ways to make follow-up contact with these teams. Melissa was so hopeful in her advice and recommendations. We discussed many other topics and she gave me her honest opinion, without any “sugar-coating,” which I really appreciated.

We discussed how tough and competitive it is to get the type of job I was pursuing. She told me that a lot of the times it is a matter of meeting the right person and catching a break. It was good to hear this honest opinion, but at the same time it was somewhat of a reality check. I am always so grateful when I can sit down with a representative from an NFL team, but I usually leave the meeting feeling a bit overwhelmed by thinking of how far of a road I still have to go before I reach my goal. It is going to be a long and definitely winding road, and I know I am going to have to sacrifice so much. But, I am sure this is more than common for all people working in the NFL, and really any other job.

The main goal now is to just catch that first break. Once I can get my foot in the door, I know I can exceed expectations. I am just not sure how that break will come about. Melissa and I discussed other avenues that may be helpful to explore, such as working in Division I or II football and attempting to gain experience in that sense. Once I get back to Indianapolis, I will begin to broaden my areas, while at the same time still pursuing the internships that these teams may have available around February and March.

I could not have been more happy with my meeting in Green Bay. I was able to really get some great advice from an expert in the field. She reassured me that what I was doing was good and would work in my benefit. She also said she had never heard of anyone doing what I am doing. Those were both very inspirational things to hear.

I am hoping the meeting with the Minnesota Vikings goes much the same way. I am now at a Panera, just down the road from the Vikings facilities. I have a meeting scheduled with the Vikings at 9am and am very excited to see what it has in store.

After my meeting, I will be leaving Eden Prairie, Minnesota and headed to Chicago, Illinois. I will visit the Chicago Bears tomorrow and then my trip is just about wrapped up. I still have to visit with the Indianapolis Colts, but I was informed yesterday that they do not have an HR Department. So, I am trying to explore possible contacts with the Colts to try to schedule a meeting with a member of the Personnel Department. The nice thing about the Colts is that I am not under the tight time constraints as I am with these other teams. So, I have more options in scheduling a time to meet.

Take care. I’ll post the Vikings story this evening.

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Day 21: St. Louis Rams – The Beginning of the End

St. Louis Rams: After a much-needed extended weekend, I began my Tuesday very excited to see how the last week would treat me. I only had a few stops left, and this last week was somewhat light in terms of driving and the number of teams I would be visiting, especially when compared to last week’s west coast leg of the trip.

First stop for my last week was with the St. Louis Rams. Heading to their facilities in Earth City, Missouri, I was a little unsure of the type of reception I would receive. I had attempted to get into contact with a representative for the Rams last week, leaving voicemails, but was not able to receive a return phone call. The trip was only about 20 minutes from where I had stayed Monday evening. Once pulling off the exit and driving past the facilities, I pulled into a parking lot to attempt to call someone again. When the administrative assistant answered the phone this time I explained what I was doing and hoped she could put me through to the right person.

She stated that “Kim” was who I needed to talk to, but once again I was only able to get connected with Kim’s voicemail message. I called the administrative assistant back and explained that I was not able to reach Kim. She stated I could bring my resume in through the double-glass doors and she could send it to Kim or she could attempt to try to call Kim again.

Therefore, I put together the packet which the St. Louis Rams would be receiving and headed inside. The administrative assistant, once again, attempted to reach Kim but this time she was on the phone. She told me she could pass it along to Kim. I did my best to emphasize why I was at the Rams facilities and the point of my overall trip. She then gave me a business card and assured me my information would reach Kim.

I was hopeful I would be able to have a little more success for the beginning of my last week. However, I was able to set up meetings with both the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. Also, I may be receiving a little more media attention in the next few days. So, I guess all the excitement will be reserved for the end of Week 5.

I stayed the night in Cedar Rapids, Iowa last night. It is now 6am here and I am heading out the door, on my way to Green Bay Wisconsin. Stay tuned for details from my stop there!

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The Start of the Final Week

Today is the start of the 5th and final week. I am now in St. Louis, where I stayed for the last two days with a couple good friends. I will be leaving shortly to head to Earth City, Missouri, where the St. Louis Rams facilities are located. After I stop at the Rams, the rest of my week includes: Green Bay, Minnesota, and Chicago, in that order.

My itinerary says I am going to the Minnesota Vikings first, on Wednesday, but I had to switch the Vikings and the Green Bay Packers because I have a meeting scheduled with the Vikings on Thursday. Stay tuned for details about how this meeting goes. I will then be back home in Indianapolis on Saturday morning.

I will be in touch!

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Days 18 – 20: Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs

The end of Week 3 was met with the Labor Day weekend. My schedule had me visiting the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. However, I was going to find a few obstacles in my way.

Denver Broncos: Since I had arrived in Denver late Wednesday night, I was able to get up early and make my way to the Broncos facilities by 10am. My days seem to be very less hectic when I can wake up in the city of the team  I will be visiting that day, instead of having to try and make it to the team before they close for the day.

My stop with the Broncos was very quick because the Broncos played the Vikings on Thursday evening. Therefore, most of the entire organization was in Minnesota. I was able to speak with the nice people working at the front desk, who told me I unfortunately picked a bad day to visit the team. But it is important for me to stay on schedule, so showing up on a bad day is just the reality of the trip sometimes.

I was able to get a name and number to follow-up with, and I even asked if I could stop by early Friday morning. They told me I could attempt to call but they would be closing at noon for the holiday weekend. After thanking them for their help, I headed out and began contemplating whether I could maker it back in the morning.

To make it back to the Broncos on Friday, I’d have to push the Kansas City Chiefs visit back until after the Labor Day weekend. I realized this would throw off my entire schedule for Week 4, so I decided the best option would be to just follow-up to explain my trip and make sure they received my information. I stayed in Denver Thursday evening and then headed to Kansas City at 5am Friday morning.

Kansas City Chiefs: The drive from Denver to Kansas City was nine hours, plus I lost an hour on the time change. I called while on my way and was told I would not be able to meet with anyone, but I was welcomed to drop off my resume when I arrived. I was told that with the holiday weekend, it just was not going to be possible. Therefore, I quickly dropped it off, got a follow-up number, and headed to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I would be staying until Sunday afternoon.

My week ahead marks the fourth and final week of the trip. It includes visits to the Rams, Vikings, Packers, and Bears. Followed by a visit to the Colts the following Monday, the 13th. I hope to finish strong!

Thanks for the support!

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A Little More Publicity

My wonderful mother emailed me this morning and told me to check out a link. It is from the San Jose Mercury News. The link is below; if you click it then scroll about 3/4 of the way down, under the “Oddly” heading, you can read a little blurb about my visit to the Bay Area. I did not contact any news outlets in San Jose, so I would be interested in learning how the news got to the Mercury News. Anyways, have a look!:

http://www.mercurynews.com/the-playground/ci_15956447?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com

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Day 17: “Sleepless” In Seattle

Seattle Seahawks: The title of this post may seem a bit corny but after the past few days it seems to fit well. After the few hours of sleep I was able to get in Eugene, Oregon it was then off to Seattle. I made a telephone call to the Seattle Seahawks to test the water and see what type of reception I would have upon my arrival.

After my call being transferred a few different times, I ended up with Jill, the administrative assistant for the Seattle Seahawks, on the other end of the phone. Jill could not have been more nice or more helpful. She asked me the purpose of my call and I told her I was attempting to speak to someone about employment, ideally an HR Representative. Jill then asked what area I was attempting to work in and I explained that the Personnel Department was where I saw my strengths being most beneficial. She then said she was going to transfer my call to the Vice President of Personnel. Jill transferred this call as if it was a common thing to do. Meanwhile, I was on the other end of the phone and not believing that my call was making it through to a Vice President! I am not sure whether Jill put my call through because of the story behind my visit to Seattle or just because that is how the organization functions. Either way, I was already blown away by the amount of help Jill and the Seahawks were offering me.

As my call was being transferred and the phone continued to ring, I began to put together how I would lay out my voicemail. Just then, the Vice President answered the phone! I could not believe it then and am still a little surprised now. The timing of some of my visits, (with training camp happening, cuts being made, etc.) coupled with the amount of people like myself that each organization must come in contact with on a daily basis, makes reaching a voicemail message almost expected. But not this time!

After introducing myself and explaining I had now driven around 9,000 miles on my way to Seattle, I was then told by the Vice President of Personnel for the Seattle Seahawks, “You’re crazy… .” I responded, “Maybe just a little.” He then stated that he “commended” me for what I was doing. After being put on hold for a brief second, he picked up the phone and reaffirmed what I had just told him. “So you are driving across the country to every single team,” he asked. I laughed for a second and then stated that is exactly what I was doing. The conversation then moved to my education background and how it was similar to his daughters. He then explained the many things he had going on that day from meetings and practice to transactions and preparing to leave for Oakland on Wednesday. But he assured me that if he was available upon my arrival, he would take the time to meet me.

At this point it was 11:00am in Eugene, Oregon and I had a 5-hour drive to Seattle, Washington. I did not have much time to waste if I wanted to get there by 5pm, before the building closed. I called back and double checked the address I had written with a different receptionist and began heading north. I arrived at Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, at 4:30pm. However, after walking inside, I was told that the offices were at another site, which was a half-hour away. I instantly thought I was going to be staying the night in Seattle so I could attempt to visit them in the morning. But, I lucked out and the administrative offices do not close until 6; therefore, I was able to make the half-hour trip through traffic in time.

I walked inside and was fortunate to meet Jill, the very helpful woman from my earlier phone call. She seemed very interested in my story and assured me that everyone at the Seahawks was very friendly and helpful. This could not be more true. Another woman, Tiffany, phoned the Vice President and informed him I was there. He said he was in a meeting and was curious to know how long I would be in town. The plan was to start heading towards Denver as soon as I left the Seahawks, but of course I answered, “As long as I need to be.” Unfortunately, he was not sure how long the meeting would take and he did not want to make me wait around all night. But he did ask Tiffany if she would take my resume and other documents up to him. Tiffany told me she would deliver it to him and that following-up in the future would not be a problem.

It would have been great to meet the Vice President in person, but I am more than thankful for the amount of help I was given. I am confident that in the future, if an opportunity arrives with the Seahawks, I will be able to call and remind the Seahawks of who I am. I left the Seahawks thinking I made a very solid contact and excited for the future!

The excitement I was feeling vanished somewhat quickly when I realized my next stop was Denver, Colorado, which was 22 hours away! The drive from Seattle to Denver is the longest of the trip, so I was eager to get it over. I drove for 5 hours and then purchased a hotel room in Spokane, Washington. I climbed into bed that evening around 11:30pm and set my alarm for 3am. With 17 hours left in the drive, I wanted to get an early start so I would not be arriving in Denver in the middle of the night. However, when I woke up it was 5:45am and I was already 2 hours off schedule. I figured arriving in Denver at midnight would not be horrible.

I was able to stay on schedule and arrived in Denver last night at midnight. After this post, I will be gathering my things and heading to the Denver Broncos facilities. Wish me luck!

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