More than four and a half years ago, it was without much fanfare that I dropped my resume into an envelope labeled "The Post-Journal, 15 W. Second St., Jamestown NY, 14701."
I'd just completed my master's degree in education at SUNY Cortland, but found myself surprisingly uninterested in pursuing a career in that field after all. I had always been intrigued by the newspaper business and, with my undergraduate degree in professional writing, I thought The Post-Journal might just be a good fit.
I really didn't have a lot of confidence, though, that I'd get the job. I practically had to beg and plead with Cris Herbst to even get an interview. And while that interview went well, she still was hesitant to offer me a position - I didn't have a journalism degree, after all, and I had no experience in the field whatsoever, not even at a high school or college paper.
But I pestered her enough over the phone and through visits to her office that she finally offered me a job as a copy editor. I can remember visiting Lake Erie State Park on the morning of my first day at the paper, chatting with my future wife about how I was worried that I wouldn't do a good job. But she assured me it would be fine, and I showed up on day one and began soaking in all I could.
Now, 54 months later, I have moved from the copy desk to the education beat to the features/entertainment beat to the family desk. I've traveled to the far reaches of our circulation area (and beyond) for stories on topics as fun as robotic milkers, birthday parties and water parks, and as tragic as plane crashes, deadly car accidents and the loss of soldiers overseas.
I have done crazy things I otherwise would have never dreamed of doing, through my past regular features "The Wanderer" and, of course, "Dave Does." I've had the opportunity to interview icons such as Bill Cosby and Ken Burns, while at the same time making wonderful contacts and friendships with members of our local arts, education and business communities.
If you haven't been able to figure out the direction of this column yet, I'll hit you between the eyes with it: This is my last editor's note at The Post-Journal. But I'm staying in the newspaper business - moving to one of our sister papers, The Journal in Martinsburg, W.Va.
That moment back in 2007 when I slipped those sheets of paper into a big yellow envelope remain etched on my mind. At the time, it just seemed like a step toward getting a steady paycheck, while maybe doing something I might like. What has come out of it has been so much more - opportunity, personal growth and a career that is leading me to a new stop in life.