Culture October 2, 2017

A Little Grit and Grind Goes a Long Way: A Millennial’s View of Living and Working in Memphis


By Lauren Berry, Public Relations Account Coordinator

My Memphis journey is a little different than most.

I was a senior in high school when I signed on to run cross-country at the University of Memphis, a moment in my life that I like to call fate.

Both of my parents had graduated from the UofM and met as alumni at the Liberty Bowl. They moved to Dallas a few years after they got married, but my grandparents still lived in Memphis. For years, I spent summers visiting my grandparents in the Bluff City, arriving after an eight-hour road trip to find the Hernando DeSoto Bridge lights twinkling off in the distance. I had never planned on moving here.

Downtown Memphis at sunrise

I arrived in Memphis in the fall of 2013, as a cross-country runner from Texas. I became a journalism major and actively involved in campus life. I pledged a sorority, reported for The Daily Helmsman, and joined an organization called Tiger Elite, where we recruited high school juniors and seniors in the area to attend the UofM. I studied abroad in both Germany and Italy.

I believe that the connections we make with people are so important. These connections can carve wonderful paths for the future, if you take notice and allow them to do so. Thankfully, Memphis is a city of connections.

In college, I interned for a year at Choose901, where I was a blogger and wrote about everything from new restaurants to events. I wasn’t even 20 years old, and yet, I was covering media days and sitting in on important meetings. I loved it very much.

But what I loved even more were the connections that I made with the team. They allowed me to be creative and to pitch new ideas. Interning there felt like gold every single day. I knew more about the City of Memphis and met more people that year than I ever could have imagined. Choose901 gave me my first glimpse into the professional world, and that was only the beginning.

From there, I interned at ALSAC, an internship I received through a connection I had made at the UofM. At ASLAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, I also attended events. I learned how to network and hold conversations with coworkers. I learned through business meetings and office culture. My year there proved to be incredibly valuable.

When it came time to graduate, I reached out to so many people in Memphis for advice. Was I ready for the real world? Had I done enough? Did I need another internship? What I also knew was that by reaching out and starting the conversation with my connections all over the city, I was creating a network that looked out for me.

Some of these people were my professors at the UofM, some were people for whom I had interned, and others were people I knew from college, who were older than me and already had jobs. They gave advice on where to apply or how to write a cover letter.

It wasn’t until I graduated in May 2017 that I was able to reflect on all that I had done. While I entered the FedExForum for the graduation ceremony, already crying, I knew that I had lived every college experience to the fullest and done what I had set out to do. Every organization, extracurricular trip, late night, early morning, and internship made me ready to tackle the real world.

I accepted my first professional job just three days after college graduation. I had been in the interview process with inferno and was eagerly waiting to hear back. When I got the job, I was in New Orleans for a fraternity formal, where I was routinely checking my email from the Starbucks down the street. I couldn’t have been more excited to get back home and start working.

It can be hard to find a job. It can be hard in Memphis, but it’s hard anywhere. It’s like a game. Sometimes you need more experience…sometimes they feel that another candidate is a better fit. But last time I checked, that’s not just Memphis; that’s every city. I have friends from Dallas who moved here for jobs. They work at great places in Downtown Memphis and are thriving. They could have moved anywhere, but they chose to move here. I have friends from college who started working corporate jobs in Memphis the following Monday after graduation. My parents, too, caught the Memphis bug and ended up moving here during my freshman year after falling back in love with Midtown.

Memphis is a city that beats with passion. Don’t give up on the job search, because we really need you here.

Help keep the good vibes going in the city that has overcome so much.