In the summer of 1995, I had just graduated from Northwestern with my journalism degree. I was living back at home in D.C., trying to figure out what my (first) career move would be.
I applied for a training program with the Orlando Magic. I even flew down to Orlando -- on my own dime (foreshadowing) -- to interview.
I was given an offer in their P.R. department... as an unpaid intern. Intern? OK. Unpaid? Saywhat? So I would not only have to relocate myself down there, but then work 40+ hours a week...for free.
My other standing option was to move back to Chicago and live with my best friends in Wrigleyville. I even had a competing unpaid internship offer in pro basketball, working for the PR guy of the Chicago Rockers of the CBA.
At the time, I agonized over the decision. Although equally unpaid, the Magic job seemed more respectable -- like I was on a career path. The Rockers "job" felt more like an excuse to get back to Chicago and basically have a 5th year of college with my friends.
I moved to Chicago -- best decision I ever could have made. Not only did I have a near-perfect year, living near Wrigley and following Northwestern football on its Rose Bowl run, but about 6 weeks after getting to Chicago (which felt endless at the time), I landed a job with a start-up company backed by AOL, to create original sports content for AOL.
I had no previous experience -- or basically any knowledge at all -- about the internet (after all, it was only 1995), but I quickly learned. Mostly, I loved the fact that we were getting to make up the rules of online content as we went along, and I had a big hand in that. And I was getting paid -- not much, but compared to the Magic, a LOT more) to write about sports I loved.
With the Magic back in the most intense spotlight the team has seen since the spring of 1995* made me think about my earliest career moment/decision, when I nearly worked for them.
* - In '95, I actually rooted against them; I really liked those two Rockets teams, particularly the second one, which went through the toughest playoff road since...well, since this Magic team, actually.