Day 16: The Bay Area

As I write this post, I am sitting in a McDonald’s in Eugene, Oregon, a few feet from the University of Oregon. It is ironic that the Hilton Hotel that I paid $50 to stay in last night charges $10 a day for internet access, but wi-fi is free at any McDonald’s location. Being unemployed, obviously, and on a tight budget, I decided to find the nearest McDonald’s. But enough of the rant.

San Francisco 49ers: Yesterday made for an extremely long day. It was somewhat because of the distance of the drive and somewhat my fault. I climbed into my car at 8am in Half Moon Bay, California, just south of San Francisco. A friend and I went to a local restaurant and had breakfast and then I had to take him to the airport. After dropping him off, I headed to the San Francisco 49ers. During my phone conversation with the ‘Niners I was told the San Francisco 49ers organization really prefers that people upload their resumes online. However, the man working the desk was willing to take my hand delivered copy. I informed the man that not only was I dropping it off, but I would also submit a copy online, and send one to the Human Resources Representative in which he put me in contact with. My stop with the 49ers was short and sweet. The same could be said about my visit with the Oakland Raiders.

Oakland Raiders: It was a 45-minute drive from the 49ers to the Oakland Raiders. The woman working the desk informed me over the phone that the Raiders do not have an HR Department. Again, I could mail the resume to the Raiders or drop it off at the front desk. Of course, I chose the latter. Just as with the 49ers, the stop was quick. In both situations I explained my reason for the visit and hoped that the message would be passed along. It seems like a long shot at times, but these organizations are all close “families,” so I have faith that the word spreads around the office.

In both instances, the 49ers and the Raiders, I was able to get a name and phone number of the person in which I could follow-up with. This does not seem like much of a victory, but a lot of these organizations do not offer the option of calling someone to follow-up. So, I will take any small victory I can get.

At this point, it was about 1pm on the west coast. I had a 9-hour drive ahead of me before I would reach my next stop in Eugene, Oregon. As I headed from Oakland towards Oregon I decided to drive through downtown San Francisco. I thought the quick detour would be worth the view, since I did not know the next chance I would have to make it back to San Fransisco. However, the traffic and my decision to stop a couple of times to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge made this “quick” trip a little longer than I had planned. But the views were beautiful and the stop was a nice break from the “on-the-go” feeling I usually have during the week days.

I jumped back on the interstate and again headed towards Oregon. Again, my mind wondered a bit and I decided to stop off in Napa Valley for some more views/pictures. The site was like nothing I had seen before. But again, this trip took longer than I had planned. On my way out of Napa, I realized it was just under 5pm and I was now going to be stuck in rush-hour traffic. After this delay, I finally started to pick up some steam and make progress towards reaching my destination. But the delays put me very far behind and I did not reach Eugene until 3am. This is by far the latest I have drove in my entire trip and I was exhausted by the time my head hit the pillow. It was then an early morning, 8:15, as I began to prepare for my travels today.

My stops today include Seattle, to visit the Seahawks, and Boise, Idaho, which is my “half-way” point from Seattle to Denver. I will hopefully get to Boise earlier than I arrived in Eugene and can catch up on a little sleep tonight before finishing my trip to Denver on Wednesday.

Sorry if these posts are a little later in the day than in previous weeks. Thanks for all your support!

Until next time….

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Day 15: Topping off a Great Week!

San Diego Chargers: The last day of Week 3 was the “cherry” on top of a very successful week. Through a family friend I was able to make a contact with a member of the San Diego Chargers. After speaking to the contact on Wednesday, I made an appointment to meet with him on Friday morning. I was looking forward to the chance to gain some advice and knowledge from an employee inside the business. The meeting was really going to work out well because the Chargers do not have an HR Department, so my chances of leaving an impression were going to be slim.

I arrived at the Chargers beautiful facilities a few minutes early and headed inside. After meeting my new contact, he showed me around the parts of the facilities that I was allowed to see. (The downstairs areas, where the players go to work, was off-limits). But, I was still able to see the practice fields, a few offices, and even the Draft Room, where team officials gather on Draft Day. I asked if it was the room that you see when the ESPN cameras “look into” the Draft Room, and he assured me that it was just that. I found it pretty cool to be in such an interesting place and immediately imagined myself sitting at that table some day.

After the tour, we sat down and discussed my trip and what I was intending to do. I told him the areas I was interested in working, personnel/team operations, and how the trip was an attempt to seperate myself from other applicants. He told me he thought it was a good idea and pointed out that it seemed to be working in that it helped me to schedule the very meeting we were having. The conversation went well and was very helpful. We discussed the way he gained employment coming out of college, an Indiana University graduate I might add. Also, we talked about ways for me to one day get an entry-level position. He noted the importance of making contacts, coupled with being in the right place at the right time, and catching a break. These things are all common in getting such a competitive position.

After our discussion, I was able to meet a few of his co-workers, as well. Each co-worker quickly asked of my trip and were interested in discussing how it was going. It seemed like word of my journey had spread around the office. At the end of our meeting, he then took a quick look at my resume/cover letter. He noticed that the cover letter was addressed to A.J. Smith, the General Manager of the San Diego Chargers, and then informed me that he would personally give my packet of information to Mr. Smith. This great gesture topped off the excitement that Week 3 brought. The travels to the San Diego Chargers were long, but being able to meet such a nice person and then him giving my information to Mr. Smith made all the miles well worth it. It was a true blessing to be treated so while at the San Diego Chargers.

My wonderful Week 3 saw me meeting with many great people in New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, Arizona, and San Diego. Further, I was able to gain some national publicity by the mention of my blog on SportsIllustrated.com. Finally, I was able to see some old friends and beautiful views while traveling from San Diego to San Francisco over the weekend.

I am now at a coffee shop in Santa Cruz, California and am about to head to the San Francisco 49ers, which facilities are just around the corner. After this, I will then visit the Oakland Raiders before driving to Eugene Oregon, where I will spend the night.

(Also, I left the cable that I use to upload pictures from my phone to my computer at a friends on Sunday. Check back tonight or tomorrow for some great pictures of the last few days. I will buy a new cable once I find a Verizon store.)

Thanks for all the support!!

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Day 14: The Arizona Cardinals

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Hello again! Sorry for the delays but these drives are becoming longer and the time changes have thrown off my routine a bit. I an now in my third different time zone this week!

I woke up in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Thursday morning after an 11-hour drive from Dallas to Albuquerque the previous day. I awoke to many “good luck” texts, emails, and blog posts after the SportsIllustrated.com publicity. Many of these comments were from people I have never met from places all over the country.

After a 7.5-hour drive, I arrived in Tempe, Arizona. I had some hope of a good showing with the Arizona Cardinals after I was told that meeting someone in HR may be a possibility.

My initial conversation, after introducing myself,  with the Administrative Assistant, Cammie, went something like this:

Cammie – “Are you the guy driving across the country?”
Me – “Yea, that’s me!”
Cammie – ” Man, I hope you get a job from this”
Me – “Me too!”

Cammie then put a call into the HR Representative and said, “Hey, Chris McGaha is here. He is the guy I was telling you about that is driving from team to team to team. Do you think you could meet with him?” It sounded like I was going to have a chance of introducing myself! However, the HR Representative was just getting ready to enter a meeting with the Cardinals’ CFO. I think this meeting was a little more important than shaking my hand!

The stop with the Cardinals was productive though. The HR Representative made it a point to have Cammie tell me that she would give me a call. My 7.5-hour drive from Albuquerque to Tempe yielded me a phone call from a contact that could be influential in helping me

gain employment. I’m not sure this would have happened without my story and extra-ordinary efforts.

Leaving Tempe, I was faced with a 6-hour drive to San Diego, California. Although it was another long drive, I was excited for the meeting I had scheduled with the Chargers on Friday morning. It was going to be nice to network and hopefully make some new contacts.

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Day 13: “America’s Team” and a Little National Publicity!

Dallas Cowboys: The Dallas Cowboys are commonly called “America’s Team.” Well, today I had the honor of visiting the training facilities of the 5-time World Champions. The facilities are located in a unique place. One must travel through a neighborhood-type area to reach the drive to Cowboys Park. While driving through the neighborhood area, I found out first hand the importance of football in Texas as I drove past a highschool team practicing during school hours. I was told by a friend that this is normal and practice is treated as a “class” for the team (I’m talking full pads, running sprints at 9:30 in the morning).

Arriving at the Dallas Cowboys facilities, I was directed inside. I did not have high hopes of having any type of meeting with anyone after I was told on the phone that a meeting was just not physically possible. I was told that the HR staff, or at least the hiring part of the staff, only has three employees and to meet with everyone who came to the facilities would be a full-time job in itself. After a very pleasant discussion with the administrative assistant, Jeanette, I headed to the dry cleaner and Firestone for an oil change. This would mark the first time I have had my dress shirts cleaned in the three weeks on the road. The one hour dry cleaning service was well worth the much inflated price.

Even though I did not have a great showing with the Cowboys, I left Dallas feeling like it was a productive day. I was able to get some errands done and on the road before noon. This was a good thing because I had an 11-hour drive ahead of me to Albuquerque.

Sports Illustrated (si.com): During the drive, I received a message from a friend that my story and blog link had been posted on Sports Illustrated’s “Hot Clicks” page. I was ecstatic to see that I was able to reach a national media outlet! The first thing I did was call my brother to have him look at it and to make sure the link to the blog worked. Word spread fast of the news and friends and family “congratulations” texts and calls followed.  This definitely helped to break up the long drive.

I assume some may wonder how si.com received word of my trip. Actually, while in Atlanta last week, I wrote an email to Hot Clicks and its author, Jimmy Traina. However, I had not checked the site in two days, so I was unaware of my email actually making it to the web page until the message from the previously mentioned friend. The actual email is still posted and can be seen by going to this link and scrolling about halfway down the page to the “E-Mail of The Day” Section: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/extramustard/hotclicks/08/25/madison-riley-parachute-jumper-gets-stuck-on-rangers-flagpole/index.html

It is nice to see some return from the long hours that I have put in over the last few weeks. I do not want to sound like I am complaining because it is a great/fun/exciting/once-in-a-lifetime experience that I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to do. I’m just saying, some of early mornings can come quick and some of those long drives can become pretty boring!

I realize I have yet to reach my goal, or really have any type of success if the measuring point is employment. But I feel I have made some good progress. However, none of this progress would be possible if I did not have the help of all of you. The support you have shown every single day is indescribable. Each day I receive a “pick-me-up” text or call, or a call from someone with a contact for me, or a place to stay, or a meal – the list could go on for days. This idea that I came up with one night while I sat in my computer room at home has evolved into a joint effort with so many people taking it upon themselves to see that we reach this goal. I struggle with attempting to find a sufficient way to repay each and every one of you. I have not come up with just the right way to say “thank you,” but I promise to give a special thank you to each person that has had any type of impact on me during this time.

As always, thanks for the support! Also, I’d like to say “thank you” to the Dallas Cowboys for such a nice time and to Sports Illustrated for helping out an avid fan!

It is off to Arizona tomorrow to see the Cardinals and then to San Diego Friday.

Take care!

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Day 12: New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans, and Channel 39 News

 
 

Note: I did not take this picture. I do not possess these type of skills.

 

New Orleans Saints: After my stay in the “haunted” hotel, I headed to the New Orleans Saints facilities to meet the World Champions. I’ll have to admit, it is cool to hear them answer the phone, “World Champion New Orleans Saints, how may I assist you?”   

Although the World Champions attempted to assist me, I was unsuccessful in my attempts to reach Laura, whom is the lone person in charge of hiring. I was told by the administrative assistant, Charlene, that Laura was at the stadium and would not be available to meet with me. But Charlene did compliment my “very nice” resume and my efforts to find employment. She was then kind enough to give me the contact information of Laura and insisted that she would pass along my materials to Laura once she came back to the office.   

After leaving the facilities, I sat in my Aveo and sent Laura an email detailing my arrival. My hopes were that I could make enough of an impression that Laura will remember my name in the future. After the Saints, it was a 6 hour trip to Houston to see the Texans.   

Houston Texans: My relentlessness paid off with the Texans. I left multiple messages and was fortunate enough to receive a call back from Jeanette, Human Resources Manager for the Houston Texans. She listened to what I had to say on the phone and even asked me about positions I was pursuing. I had previously applied for a Personnel position with the Texans, in June, so I mentioned those efforts as well. Jeanette then told me that she would be glad to meet me in person when I arrived at the Texans facilities!   

Upon my arrival, I walked into the revolving front door and headed to the second floor, where the Texans offices are located. Jeanette was notified of my arrival and then met with me to discuss the Houston Texans and their employment opportunities.   

I told Jeanette I was attempting to make a name for myself and she assured me that I was successful in doing just that. She told me she would certainly remember me in the future. She also informed me that the Texans were fully staffed in the areas I was interested but that many times positions become available during the season. Jeanette stated that if a position became available for which I would be a candidate she would be sure to call me. It was great to feel so welcomed by such an honorable organization. The help and kindness offered by Jeanette was a microcosm of the entire Houston Texans organization and also the Houston community.   

KIAH Channel 39 TV in Houston: While I was driving from New Orleans to Houston I received a call from Kristy, the Assignments and Planning Editor for Channel 39. She told me the news station had an interest in my story and was curious if they could meet with me to conduct an interview. After settling on a time and place, I met Damian outside of Reliant Stadium, the Houston Texans facilities. Damian set up a camera and then proceeded to ask me questions about my journey. He was curious as where the idea came from, where to and for how long I would be traveling, and also the reception I had received from the different organizations, along with other things. After telling him about how nice the Texans had just treated me, Damian began telling me how helpful the organization is and the type of respect the Texans have in the Houston community. I could not have agreed more with this assessment. Following the interview with Damian, he then took a few shots of me walking up to Reliant Stadium, walking into the front doors, and also a shot of my resume. I assume the woman working the front desk just inside the revolving door thought it was strange for me to be making laps around the door. I then had a few more moments of conversation with Damian about his desire to work in sports, namely the NBA, and then was back in my car to head towards Dallas for the evening. The story aired on the 9 o’clock news in Houston last night. I am working on getting a link to the story to post on the blog; I’ll keep everyone updated.   

I could not be more appreciative to the New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans, and Channel 39 News for the help and support they offered me. Charlene, with the New Orleans Saints, went out of her way to give my information to Laura, the Saints Human Resources Coordinator. Further, Jeanette, Human Resources Director for the Houston Texans, seemed absolutely swamped with things to do but still took the time to meet me and shake my hand. Finally, the publicity offered by Channel 39 is a prime example of the type of people that the City of Houston has to offer.  Thanks again to these wonderful organizations!   

It was a great Tuesday!

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Day 11: A Day of Travel/Bourbon St.

Monday was simply a travel day. I stopped at the post office in Tallahassee to send some thank-you cards and then headed towards New Orleans around 10a.m. The trip is about 6 hours long and Pensacola Beach is about the half-way point.

So, of course, I took a bit of a detour and went to look at the Gulf of Mexico. After spending about a half hour there, I headed out to finish the second half of my trip to New Orleans.

Once I checked in I made phone calls to teams that I will be visiting this week. Also, I sent out a number of emails to each Fox, ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliate in each city I will be visiting this week. Further, I emailed the ESPN Radio shows (Mike and Mike, The Herd, Doug Gottlieb) and the local ESPN affiliates for each city. I am really trying to work these avenues in hopes of creating as much buzz as possible.

After doing a little “homework,” I set out to get something to eat on Bourbon Street, which my hotel was a half block away from. I had a great Po-Boy sandwich at Oceana, a place just down the street from my hotel, Prince Conti Hotel. I also found out that the bar connected to the Prince Conti Hotel, along with many other surrounding buildings, is haunted. Unfortunately, I did not see or hear anything crazy, outside of guests going to their rooms at all hours of the night.

I am off to visit the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans today and then will be spending the evening in Dallas. I’ll keep you posted on my experiences!

Thanks for the support!

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Day 10: Who Wants Pictures?!?!

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The last day of Week 2 involved a trip to Tampa to visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In my phone conversations with them earlier in the week I was told that all applicants were to submit their resumes online. As you probably know by now, these types of responses do not have much effect on me anymore. 

Staying in Orlando from Wednesday through Saturday, it was nice to only have to drive a 1.5 hours to get to Tampa. I left early Friday morning and had no problems at all making the short trip. When I arrived, I made one last attempt to speak to someone other than a receptionist for the Bucs but again only received a voicemail. The next option is the “surprise” visit that I give to the security guard at the gate. After being redirected from Raymond James Stadium, the home of the Buccaneers, to One Bucs Place, the site of the executive offices, I was greeted by a gentleman working the gate. After explaining the reason for my visit he first told me that they usually do not accept resumes in person. Then, he told me that today, Friday, may be even more of a problem because the offices were flooded with business associated with the preseason game the Bucs would be playing on Saturday. Therefore, he suggested I come back on Monday to deliver my resume. 

The problem with that suggestion is that my schedule does not have much room for change during Week 3. First, I have a couple of hotel stays that are already booked and would need to be changed. Second, a close friend is meeting me in San Diego on Thursday to take part in the California leg of the trip with me. Therefore, I elected to drive to Tallahassee Sunday night and stay with a friend, to make my Monday trip to New Orleans four hours shorter, and to apply to the Buccaneers online. This may not be the most ideal way of doing it but I did not have too many options. To be honest, I would have loved to been able to re-visit the Bucs on Monday, but after my Thursday in Miami was such a good day I did not dwell on it too much. 

My Tampa trip was not a complete failure though. I was able to score some good pictures not only of Raymond James Stadium but also of George Steinbrenner Field, which is across the street from Raymond James Stadium. 

Here ya go! (Click the photo to enlarge it): 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"That's not fair! Rizzuto's not a word, he's a baseball player!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

I have one last treat for ya. The friend who I stayed with this weekend works for the company that is building the Amway Center, the new arena for the Orlando Magic. Therefore, I was able to get a tour of the almost finished building. 

If you look close, you can see me standing next to the center scoreboard, which has yet to be hoisted up to the roof. I was attempting to show the size of it.

 

This is a view from one of the suits.
This is a massive bar area that is near the suits.

 

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