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Doing What I Love

Turley poses with her cat, Tyler, and dog, Jake.

Writing has always been one of my defining qualities. It’s something that people almost immediately notice when they first have a basic conversation with me. Ask about my interests, and I’m going to talk about my favorite authors and writing in my free time about everything and anything.

Spelling tests were my favorite in elementary school, and English became my best class in middle and high school. When my high school counselor suggested I take Writing for Publication in my sophomore year, I happily agreed and signed up for the class, excited to start writing for the school newspaper and not quite knowing what to expect. And within a month of that semester, I was in love with journalism.

The following year, my junior year, I was copy editor and the newspaper, formerly known as the Forest Edge, was quickly evolving into a magazine and news website, now currently known as the Central Trend. I spent that year working hard and close with the two editors in chief and built myself up as one of the most involved people on staff.

Then senior year, I was online manager, and a prime source for getting the Central Trend, now almost completely online only, off the ground. By the time graduation rolled around, we had created an app, and were averaging around 150 to 200 hits on the website daily. Our record number of hits in one day had skyrocketed to over 1,000.

We had a full staff of talented, kind people, and a great teacher/adviser. All was well, and it was a wonderful experience. I was incredibly sad to say goodbye to a project I had poured two years of my high school career into, but I was also excited for the future and ready to move on.

After high school ended, I started looking for a summer job. I took a long time researching all of the positions that were available at several stores at the Woodland Mall, as well as the few cafes and ice cream shops that were merely a bike ride away. But even as I sent in resumes and was rejected, I still had my heart set on one store, and one store only: PetSmart. I’ve always been a huge animal lover, and being a veterinarian was a dream job of mine. But after playing a fairly realistic and graphic video game that depicted exactly what all the roles of being a vet are, and nearly passing out, I knew it wasn’t right for me. I had given up my veterinarian dream a long time ago. But something about working at a pet store was calling to me.

I applied, and just like all the other jobs, I was denied. So I moved on to Chow Hound. This store was one of the few who never gave me a response. After waiting around for two weeks hoping they would call me, I gave up. I was tired of being
told no. I was ready to start sending applications into anywhere and everywhere that was hiring, no matter the kind of work. I was a high school graduate and soon to be college freshman, and I needed money.

Then one final pet store caught my eye – Pet Supplies Plus. The name wasn’t as familiar as PetSmart or Chow Hound, but it was still a pet store. I went in and asked for an application, and they gave me the link to apply online. I went home, adjusted my resume, and applied. And then I waited.

Four days later I got a call from one of the managers asking to set up an interview. I happily agreed to the following day at 2 p.m. I walked in, sat down in the office, and talked to one of the store managers for a solid half hour. I left with a stack of business papers to fill out to finalize the employment process and a huge smile. I was hired as a sales associate, and would begin working as a cashier, as well as a stocker.

I spent the second half of my summer there learning all that I could about pet care, customer service, and, on average, petting over 20 dogs on the daily. Then my freshman year of college started, and I jumped into my journalism major. I took the bull by the horns and applied to be an editor for The Collegiate. I was hired, and stepped into a world of round-the-clock news updates and editing.

At first, I loved it. I felt the same sense of excitement and productivity I’d felt at the Central Trend in high school. However, I quickly found that between my role as an editor plus my other 14 credits of college, I was spending more time stressing than enjoying the experience. I wasn’t happy anymore.

When college classes started, I cut down my hours at the pet store to two to three days. I had loved being full time in the summer, and once I was down to on average 14 hours a week, I missed it. I missed the pets, especially all of our regulars that come in at least once a week. And I missed my coworkers and strengthening the bonds of friendship that had quickly formed between us over the summer. Being at the store on weekends became more of a break from school than a job. I would finish all of my homework on Friday so I could focus purely on customers and animals all weekend. And I loved every second of it. My love for working with animals was growing, while my writing days were starting to fade to dust.

The first semester ended, and I had three weeks off for the holiday break. I spent every second I could working at the store. I worked Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. I was dedicated, and I wanted to see if I still loved my job as much if I was there as often as before, even if it was temporary.

And I did love it.

Second semester started, and this time, I set aside a few extra hours for The Collegiate. I thought that maybe if I had less of a full plate and some more time to focus only on journalism, maybe I would enjoy it again. But still, even with extra time, I found myself stressing and feeling overwhelmed at the tiniest things. Journalism is round-the-clock; the news is constantly being updated 24/7 and even a college newspaper was no exception. While my editor in chief flourished and thrived under this kind of schedule, I felt weighed down. I liked the team I was working with, as well as my professor. But I knew it was time for a change. I needed to make a final decision for myself, and my happiness.

I have yet to officially change my major and restructure my plan for the next three years, but I plan on majoring in something related to animal behavior or nutrition. I thought that telling people’s stories would make me happy, but instead I’m finding that working with animals, studying them and helping them makes me much happier.

Instead of continuing with journalism, I plan on spending this summer at Pet Supplies Plus and learning all that I can about the products and the nutritional value in all the different kinds of pet foods we carry. I’ll be able to fully immerse myself in studying pet nutrition, and decide from there if I want to continue down that path or instead switch to animal behavior. I know it’s a complete 180 degree turn from what my plans were before, but I’m ready. I know I can handle it. I’m excited for change, and I’m ready to do what I love as a career for the rest of my life.


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