Growing up, Coca-Cola was a huge part of our life. It’s really hard to put into words, but Coke was there at all celebrations and it was there when we were sad, sick or hurting too. No matter what was the matter, Mother would say “Let’s have a Coke. Then you’ll feel better.” I have vivid memories of drinking ice cold Cokes out of glass bottles on hot summer days. Every single person in my family took the first sip and then gave the satisfactory “ahhhh”. When we spent the night out at a friend’s house, Mother would pack a Coke in our bag. You know, just in case we woke up in the middle of the night home sick. When my parents visited me in college, they always came bearing a 12-pack. And we do the same with our littles. Coca-Cola isn’t taboo here. It’s a treat and it’s a part of every celebration and pretty much every sick day too.I will never forget the day that Daddy-O said goodbye to me on the stoop of Cloudman dorm at Georgia Tech. I acted brave and he did too. (But I’m certain we were both terrified.) The last thing he said before getting the car and leaving me for the first time in my life was “Work very hard and do your best. And maybe, just maybe, one day you could get a job right across the street.” If you are familiar with Georgia Tech or Atlanta, you will know that place he spoke of was the world headquarters of The Coca-Cola Company.
That moment stuck with me for four and half grueling years. (It was fun but it was super hard.) And, in the middle of my senior year, my best Sigma Nu friend and Coca-Cola intern (now VP) called me up and said his group needed another intern. To be honest, I really wasn’t interested in adding a job to my plate, but I’d grown up loving Coca-Cola more than any brand in the world, so I went for it…and got it! It was with tears in my eyes that I called up Daddy-O and said “You’ll never believe what happened. (I’m sure he immediately panicked based on all the other calls he received that started with that line.) Remember how you told me that if I worked really hard I might be able to get that job across the street? Weeellllll…. I GOT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I got a job at Coke!!!!!!!”
My internship led to a full time job as soon as I graduated. I did look at other options, but I knew deep down I’d never leave Coke. (In spite of the fact they offered me less money than any other offer I had.) I was happily employed and greatly challenged for 8 years in Business Analysis, Strategy & Planning and Revenue Growth Management.
When I had little John I was really at a crossroads. I had worked SO hard to get a good job and then even harder to keep it and do well at it. I earned four promotions and a 10-day trip to any Ritz in the world (we broke it up between Hawaii and Jamaica) in that time. But, I also wanted to be a Mommy. I went back to work full time for about two months after my maternity leave. I didn’t want to assume that I couldn’t do it all, so I truly gave it my best shot. And I cried the first week. And the second week. And for six straight weeks feeling like I was failing at everything. Work, being a mommy and being a wife. Oh, and just being myself too. The day that I had to shut my crying baby upstairs in the master bathroom to take an important call from a senior VP was the day I knew it couldn’t go on. Honey was completely supportive of whatever decision I wanted to make, and it was to be a stay at home mother. I gave my two weeks notice and felt like I was walking on air. Like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders!
Two weeks into retirement, I got a call from a work acquaintance. She had her first baby just weeks before I had John. She too went back full time and was extremely unhappy. But she had managed to talk her boss into this rare little gem of a situation called a “job share.” I had no earthly idea how to do her job or what it entailed (“marketing”), but it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. I went in for the interview and landed the two day portion of a job share!
Nine years later, I’m still going strong two days a week! I’ve had five different managers, four different three-day partners and recently received a big and slightly terrifying promotion. My job has evolved to something entirely new since I started it. I am currently application manager of two b2b type websites providing sales and marketing information and direction to the Coca-Cola system. Now that I’m not paying for two in part-time day care, I am making a decent income for a company I’ve admired my whole life. I worked very, very hard for my Georgia Tech degree and my masters (paid for by Coke!). And while I don’t currently do anything even remotely related to my education, it was that education that opened this door.
So I guess the cat’s officially out of the bag now… If you have any burning questions, ask away because I just might never mention the J.O.B. again. Oh and I finally decide to share today because it just happens to be my 17th anniversary of working for The Coca-Cola Company!!
PS. On shareacoke.com right now you can buy your very own personalized glass bottle Coke. How fun!!! If your name is not already available, like CeeCee, you can have it added to the database!