Chelsey Everett – My Path to EconDev
There’s something about combining the creative and design aspect of marketing with the technical, data-driven research side of economic development that makes me want to flip cartwheels. I’m one of those people who reads 2-3 books a week, builds random things and could spend hours in a coffee shop. How I ended up in economic development, God only knows.
Thankfully God does know because I know without a doubt that this is EXACTLY what I was meant to do. I say that because it’s been almost three years and I still love doing it and I still love the people I get to do it with.
Growing up I never knew exactly what or who I wanted to be. My dream jobs changed almost daily. One day I was going to be a lawyer, the next a teacher, then a doctor, a spy and even a brief period where traveling the world as a ninja sounded pretty awesome. Even during high school, I got bored easily with my part-time jobs and switched around between retail sales, waiting tables, fast food, and grocery stores. You get the picture.
The same could be said for college. Oh, college. I started out at a junior college doing basic studies then I switched to Criminal Justice. After a semester into that, I switched to another junior college and did a medical program. A year in, I switched back to the first junior college to look at Computer Science. A semester into that I switched to the University of Southern Mississippi to study Information Technology. A few days before orientation a friend of mine mentioned being in the School of Mass Communication studying Public Relations. I had no idea what that was so I, of course, Googled it. The courses ranged from Public Relations Research to Graphic Design to Reporting and man, it sounded like so much more fun than IT. If you’re wondering if I switched majors again, yes, yes I did. Finally, after five years of jumping around from major to major, I finally completed a Bachelor’s in Public Relations and Marketing.
I then had a choice to make. Find a job or go to graduate school? Well, two months of unemployment and living at home quickly led me to apply to grad school. I applied to the Mass Communication Master’s program and after a few months of waiting found out that I didn’t make the cut. However, I quickly switched gears and apply for a master’s program I had heard about in a marketing class. Economic Development and Tourism. I had no idea what the program entailed and it wasn’t my original path but I’m thankful every single day that it’s the path God had for me.
Looking back, I realize the main thing in common with all of my experience was people. Whether I was bagging groceries, waiting tables or checking someone into a hotel at midnight. I loved interacting with all kinds of people and serving them in some way.
Now, no matter if I’m telling a story of economic vibrancy through infographics, highlighting recent success with drone videography, using 3D maps to bring something to life that may not exist, or combing through giant excel sheets of data; every day brings a new challenge, something to learn and incredible people to interact with. I’ve been abundantly blessed with a job I love and the best leadership, team, and community I could ever ask for. They’ve not only taught me so much professionally about the world of economic development but they’ve also helped me grow personally in faith, patience, confidence, and in that really knowing your “why” makes a difference.
Research Manager, Economic Development