As I’ve been in this job, I’ve really tried to articulate what makes Gainesville special and there is something unique about its sense of community.
At the top of the stairs, there is a wrap-around landing that overlooks the rest of the museum and leads to the main room. The room hosts a buffet in the center to draw more people in to see the tables of various early stage startups, running the borders of the room, share their ideas. Food is always a crowd pleaser, but especially so at 5:30pm after a work day for most of the people at the event.
As the new program director of the organization hosting the event I knew it was a big night to connect with people and as they say “network.” I have come to drop the dry eye-roll inducing meaning of the word, network, and just seek out interesting conversations. What I didn’t expect was to see so many familiar faces.
One of the highlights was being recognized by my first boss for a job, which I had in college. She is a marketing director for a real estate company in Gainesville. It was my first internship. Looking back at my resume, I now realize I was a marketing intern for that company five years ago. And she still remembered me even after working with so many other college interns.
We talked about how her marketing department had grown and what I had been up to for the past five years.
I remember admiring her when I worked for her. I admired how she set the brand identity, designed software to help make the internal operations more streamlined and how she studied SEO. She read patents to understand what was coming on the horizon and she had a life outside of work, which included a young child. She congratulated me on my new role and offered to write a piece about the project to publish on one of her community platforms.
It was a great reminder of how fulfilling professional relationships can be. The warmth of running into someone unexpectedly who knows where you started and sees the progress you have made, especially when that person is someone you admire.
Despite all the other familiar faces and great conversations this one felt the most Gainesville to me. As I’ve been in this job, I’ve really tried to articulate what makes Gainesville special and there is something unique about its sense of community.
People remember you. People are excited to see you doing well and sometimes they offer to publish something for you.
Written by Lauren Hemingway.
Lauren is the Program Director for the Tech Talent Initiative for startupGNV. Her focus as director is building out startgnv.com to promote the tech and startup community in Gainesville, FL.