• Elaine Zito

Why I'm a Career Server with a College Degree

When I was a little girl I would cut pictures out of magazines and paste them on a poster board of what I wanted my life to look like. I distinctly remember thinking i'd magically become a blonde, marry a tall dark and handsome man, drive a Hummer, and live in New York City working at a big corporate office paving my way to the top. I'm not sure why I wanted that life, but when I actually think about it, I hate cities, don't like being a slave to the 9-5 with limited time off, and would never drive a car so big! Now I did go more blonde and married someone tall, dark, and handsome, but the rest is history and what I actually wanted was nothing like what I had thought.

When I graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Public Relations, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I ended up disliking a lot of aspects of PR and after a few internships I realized sitting in an office was sooo boring. I took six months to apply to different positions including social media manager, catering coordinator, and event director. A few offers came in but with terms that included pay less than $16/hr, hours from 8-5, and occasional weekend obligations. This sounded like a nightmare to me! I thought because I graduated from a prestigious university that I would automatically be worth more than that. Boy was I wrong. And with those hours I would never get to see my husband who works nights. I quickly knew this was not the path I wanted to be going down. And I realize that there is more opportunity in bigger cities, (I only applied in Virginia Beach), but as I stated in the last paragraph, the city life is not for me. So the summer after college I continued to be a wedding coordinator and picked up a job as a bridal gown consultant. It was a fun and easy work life, but not profitable in the long run. Enter, a move to Florida.

Before I get to why we moved to Florida, let me briefly explain why Allyn was in the restaurant industry. He graduated from Florida State with a business and criminology degree but had to move back home because his dad became sick. Allyn picked up a job serving at the VB oceanfront while spending time and helping take care of his dad. Thankfully, my father in law pulled through. During that time, I showed up in VB. I was still in college and had picked up a summer job at the same restaurant. We met, fell in love and he waited for me to graduate. Waiting tables continued to be a profitable job and allowed him to come see me at Tech. Since we didn't know what our life would look like after I graduated, this was an ok temporary situation for him. Well, what we thought was temporary turned into a finance-driven business idea. He was making amazing money during the peak season in VB. He thought if he could make that kind of money year around, it could be a game changer. So where do you go in the off season that is warm, tropical and busy with tourists? South Florida! Meanwhile, I was desperate for an answer and a change since my job search was a flop. It sounded like a fun adventure to me, and I was willing to wait tables for some time until we figured out the rest. So, we moved. We got a job, bought a house and became Florida residents. Six months later we returned to VB, got married and worked the busy summer season. This was proving to be a very fun and successful venture. We continue to love the lifestyle we live because of it, and have more freedom and income than we would if we took a 9-5 in VB. Now all we needed to do was figure out what would be next.

The question was and still is how to maintain (and eventually increase) our income and freedom while leaving the restaurant industry. Because neither of us have corporate experience, taking an office job would definitely be a step back. So, we came up with our own plan. Allyn always wanted to get into real estate and I have always wanted to own my own business. His uncle owns over 60 rental properties and my father created a manufacturing business with two warehouses from his garage. We have great resources to pull from and decided to capitalize on that. With our quick cash income, his uncles advice and experience, and my parents skillset to literally create or fix anything in a home, we decided to go for real estate investments. Our plan became to buy and fix up properties to rent/ flip. We will continue to wait tables and move back and forth until we have enough properties to grow from alone. And while we don't know exactly when that will be, we know we have a plan and are heading in the right direction.

So in truth, no I never thought I would be a career server after graduating. My life is not what I thought it would look like, its better. And everyday I'm learning what I actually want and growing into who I am meant to be. It's ok for you to be unsure of what you want, or who you want to be. It's ok if your current situation looks different from your vision 10 years ago. It's ok if it has nothing to do with your degree, or if your parents or friends don't understand. All that really matters is that you are happy with where you're at, and you continue to strive for the best version of yourself. In the end, your title won't matter, but your memories and impact you leave on others will. So choose a path that truly fits your dreams, and don't let anyone make you feel bad for your courage to do exactly that!

(Oh, and as for the picture that goes with this post, it was taken in Sayulita, Mexico on an all expense paid trip I earned from being "just a waitress," ... )