The 20 Seconds of INSANE Courage that Changed My Life

By: Claudia Martinez, Marketing Coordinator


Looking back to December 2015, I would never have imagined where “20 Seconds of INSANE courage” would take me. December 2015 through May 2016 was perhaps one of the most difficult times of my life.

In December of 2015, I graduated with a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Everything seemed perfect then. I had already received experience at internships with Telemundo Chicago, The Resurrection Project, Akira Chicago and even one in New York with a major online retailer, boohoo.com. I was considered a leader at my university. I was marketing director of various organizations and editor-in-chief of Her Campus magazine of UIC. With all of this under my belt, I thought that I would have no problem getting my first job after college. How wrong I was!

Before I knew it, I had graduated and I did not have a job lined up. Everyone was on holiday break which made things harder. This is when the waiting game started.

I felt like I was walking on a road with no way out.

After months of going on interviews without finding a job I really wanted to pursue, I became desperate. I needed guidance. I reached out to someone I had met at a school event years back, Jackie Camacho-Ruiz (who is now my boss). Little did I know that this decision would lead to landing an internship at JJR Marketing. I made it a goal to learn everything I could and do my best at JJR. This time tested my strength and resilience in all areas. It taught me so much about friendship, myself, and the importance of mentorship and your network.

Although it was an exciting time, it also was one of the hardest times for me. I struggled with family situations now that I had returned home after four years of living away. It was tough for me to remain mentally strong, do well at my internship and continue my job search. I found myself slowly getting depressed and becoming an angry person that I was not. This is when I realized I was in the eye of a hurricane and I needed to get out. I knew it was not going to be easy. I had no job or source of income. I had no clue how it would happen but I knew I needed to find a way out.

I tried harder and became more focused. I left my house to go to a library or coffee shop to work. I felt hopeless. I knew that I had to leave my house sooner, rather than later, but I didn’t know how it would happen. I decided to reach out to a mentor. Something told me I had to connect with her for help and advice. I will forever be grateful to Luisa Fernanda for being there when I needed her most. A phone call with her forever changed my life.

Luisa Fernanda listened and guided me. I will never forget when she said that all I needed was “20 Seconds of Insane Courage” to ask Jackie for a job. “You need to do this Claudia. All you need is 20 seconds. You will call her now and then call me right back to see how it went,” she said. When she said this, I instantly saw a door. A possibility. It was always before my eyes but I was hesitant and had self-doubts that stopped me. She was the push I needed. After this conversation, I was sure I needed to do it! It was hard for me to pick up the phone and tell someone why they should hire me and give me an opportunity, but I knew I had to do it myself.

I remember taking a deep breath and dialing. It went to voicemail, but shortly afterward, I received a call back from Jackie.

I was shaking and still very nervous and uncertain what she would say. I remember saying on the phone, “Jackie, I have shown you what I am capable of and I know this is my “20 seconds of insane courage”. I want to know what it would take to get hired full time. “

“20 Seconds Of INSANE courage” took me to an amazing company I never thought possible. They changed my life in ways I never thought! If there is one lesson you should all take from this, it is that sometimes all it takes is “20 seconds of INSANE courage” to make great things happen. We have to step outside of our comfort zone, and even when things are uncertain and you have doubts, you have to try. Think to yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen? For me, the worse was that I could have gotten a “no”. If I did, I would just have to keep trying. Never stop trying. But most importantly, never forget that sometimes all it takes is “20 seconds of INSANE courage” to make GREAT things happen.

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