During the spring semester of my freshman year of college, I was looking for a new club or activity to occupy my time. I was thrilled when I found out my school had an Odyssey community for me to join. I wanted to be held accountable to write weekly, so I decided to give writing a real shot. At that point, I was taking stock of my life and my freshman year of college thus far and wasn't completely happy with what I saw. I took that as inspiration for my first article and wrote about how I was living my life the way I use Pinterest: waiting to do everything I truly wanted to do.
A week went by, and my article was posted to my Facebook page. I got kind reactions from family and friends. I went on with my week and didn't think a thing of my article. Days later though, I received an email that would change the course of my year.
The email came from a Story Producer at Pinterest. Her job is to find people who use Pinterest and talk to them about the platform. She had come across my article and wanted to chat with me about the way I use Pinterest. After doing my research to make sure she was legit, I agreed to the phone call. We chatted once on the phone and emailed back and forth for a few days before my life returned to normal.
Of course, that isn't even close to the end of the story. I soon got another email from the Story Producer, asking if I would be interested in her coming out to my house in central Illinois to interview me in-person on camera! I was stunned and couldn't believe this was real life. After a little bit of shuffling, I managed to have availability over my spring break. I don't remember much about the interview day itself, but I know it involved lots of posing for pictures, inventing different ways to describe what I like about Pinterest and how I use it, and talking into multiple cameras.
After that opportunity, I was convinced my journey with Pinterest was over, which I was more than fine with as the whole situation was unexpected to begin with. Nevertheless, I found another major email in my inbox a few weeks after the semester had ended. This is where this journey became absolutely dreamlike: Pinterest wanted to fly me out to San Francisco to speak at a conference for their Creators (the bloggers who make the content we see on Pinterest)!
I was way too terrified to say "yes" right away. Plus, I was going to be heading home from vacation during the conference anyway. After I processed what Pinterest was asking of me though, I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity, so the plans were set: Pinterest would pay for me and my mom to fly from our vacation in Florida out to San Francisco to stay for a couple of nights so I could attend this conference.
Once we made it to San Francisco, everything was a blur. I'd never been to California, much less downtown San Francisco. I remember taking in all of the sights on the ride from the airport to the hotel and just being in awe of where I was. We got to stay in a fancy, hipster hotel right in the middle of the city.
On the first day, I got to tour the Pinterest headquarters and attend a cocktail party with the presenters at the conference. The Pinterest office is as amazing as you probably picture it; they have a coffee bar, a relaxing lounge area, and even a wall of candy! I finally got to view the video they made at my house, and it gave me a very surreal feeling.
I was able to enjoy some tourist activities before arriving at the conference on the second day. When I arrived, I was able to play around with the artsy activities they had set up for Creators. I also meet Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp, the co-founders of Pinterest. At this point, I was starstruck and shaking in nervousness. When it was time for my interview, I was able to focus on the questions and wasn't quite as terrified as I thought I'd be. Evan was actually the one who interviewed me, and his relaxed personality helped me feel like I was just having a casual conversation.
My interview with Evan!Lauren Gherna
Afterward, I meet some of the Creators at the conference, including Alejandra from www.alwaysorderdessert.com, Amy from www.amytangerine.com, and Sally from www.sallysbakingaddiction.com. On top of that, I walked away with a swag bag since I was considered a VIP/presenter.
Two months later, I'm still in awe of what happened to me. Pinterest truly is an amazing company that's trying to defy the media we take in. And of course, none of this would've been possible without the platform Odyssey has given me, so I'll continue to write, dream big, and keep y'all posted along the way!
Me, Evan, Christina (my mom), and Jess (Story Producer) following the conferenceLauren Gherna