During my first week of college, a girl in my dorm said she had to go to an information session about internships at Disney World for one of her classes. She asked if I wanted to tag along. She also added that maybe we could get some frozen yogurt on the way back. Never wanting to turn down an opportunity for frozen yogurt, I obliged.
Little did I know, that decision to go to that info session was about to change the course of my life.
I didn’t bring anything to take notes and had zero intentions of even listening. I started to think about what toppings I was going to pick for my frozen yogurt but I got distracted by the compelling presentation of their internships.
I got back to my dorm that night and applied. Two months later I was packing up for my semester in Disney World as a photographer. When I was there, I discovered the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Six months after I got back from my Disney internship, I applied to intern at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Western North Carolina. As I was interning there, I got the idea to start my company, Headbands of Hope. For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to fund childhood cancer research.
Headbands of Hope became my full-time job and has impacted thousands of people around the world. I know none of this ripple effect would have ever happened if I didn’t decide to show up to that Disney info session five years ago. Yes, even though frozen yogurt was a factor in my reasoning to show up, I got much more than a decadent dessert out of my decision.
Sometimes, no matter what our incentives or intentions may be, it’s always better to just show up and get in front of people.
Before Headbands of Hope got an office, I’d usually work from home or a local Starbucks. One day it was rainy and I felt like staying in my pajamas and working from my couch but I decided to put my big girl pants on (and rain boots) and work from the Starbucks down the street.
As I was sitting there, a woman came up to me and said, “Excuse me, are you the girl that started Headbands of Hope?”
I took a couple seconds to relish in my first “fame” encounter and said, “Yes, I am.”
She told me she’d been following my journey in the news and was super impressed and inspired by the work I do.
I replied with, “You just made my day!”
Jess is the founder and CEO of her college startup, Headbands of Hope. For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to fund childhood cancer research. She loves speaking on college campuses through CAMPUSPEAK and has recently launched her first book, The Freshman Fabulous: The Girl’s Guide to College. When she’s not working or speaking, she enjoys trying new foods, doing crossfit, writing, consulting startups, taking improv classes, being outside and helping others find their path to help the world.
Image credit: CC by Espen Sundve