One year ago today, I started my new job at CenturyCo. It was actually my second day with the company, but the first time I set foot in the Rapid City office. The day before had been a five-hour orientation at corporate HQ in Wall.
It’s weird, by the way. Walking into a new job without ever having seen the office first. My interview and tests were all online, so I’d never met any of my coworkers in person until I waltzed inside the front doors one year ago. Hell, I didn’t even know which of the three buildings I was supposed to go to.
Spoiler alert: I figured it out.
And I can safely say, 365 days later, I don’t have a single regret. Funny thing is, when I applied for the job, I thought it was going to be boring. Heavy on corporate communications, light on anything even remotely creative. I admitted this to my supervisor during my performance review, so I’m safe if she happens to read this. Luckily, I was completely wrong. Most of what I do allows me to flex those creative muscles like never before, and I report to managers who are willing to let me stray outside the box and shake up our 105-year-old culture a little bit. I’ve met some amazing people across the state and have written stories about everything from cybersecurity and miniature cows to virtual reality goggles and pheasant hunting. I’ve interviewed quilt shop owners who were featured in Better Homes and Gardens magazine; a hat maker who created a custom Western hat for my idol, Peyton Manning; and a Hollywood producer/children’s book author, among others. The work is always interesting and takes me to places I never imagined I’d end up.
Like Hartford, in the eastern part of the state. Which is where I happen to be holed up right now. This is actually my fourth visit to Hartford in five months (all but one trip has been for business). Let’s just say the folks at the AmericInn are starting to recognize me. Which means I can no longer run down the hall naked because they are onto me.
Why this rural community on the edge of farming country 15 minutes from Sioux Falls? It’s one of five strategic towns CenturyCo is focusing its marketing efforts on. This visit, I’m here to interview a veterinarian and a grocery store owner. It’s just a quick overnighter, but that’s fine with me. Hartford is about a four-hour drive from Rapid City. Longer with stops, of course. I grabbed Taco John’s for lunch in Chamberlain and ate it at the rest stop overlooking the Missouri River. Home of the beautiful Dignity of Earth and Sky sculpture.
When I left Rapid City, it was sunny. But as soon as I crossed the Missouri River, the clouds thickened…and a few miles outside of town, it started raining. That didn’t stop me from making a couple of quick detours.
I’d thought about driving into Sioux Falls this evening, but with the inclement weather, staying put in my room sounds like the better option. Plus, there’s a hot tub here, and Pizza Ranch delivers. Besides, I’ll be back in Sioux Falls next week with two coworkers for a marketing conference. We’re staying in the heart of downtown, so I’ll save my strolling-around-the-big-city for then.
I also looked up the driving distance to Madison, Wisconsin. I’d had a passing thought that I could cruise on over there for some of those candy corn brats, but they’re still a solid six hours away. And I’m driving a company car, so I’d be hard pressed to explain away an extra 868 roundtrip miles on the odometer.
During the long drive to Hartford, I couldn’t help but reflect on the amazing career turns my life has taken. Every time I’ve rolled the dice, I’ve come out a winner. It was scary to leave behind my job in Washington state when we moved out here three years ago, but…why? The work was monotonous and boring and left zero opportunity for creative writing. Then, I thought I’d found my dream job in the publishing industry in Rapid City, but working for a small company definitely has its pitfalls. CenturyCo is everything those other places are not and I truly believe I will retire here. That’s still a long ways off, thankfully…but I’ve found my niche and I don’t plan on going anywhere.
Happy workiversary to me, and here’s to many more years with the company. My last boss could barely spit out the words “Corporate America” with anything but derision, but I am forever thankful I took this leap of faith!