Being born and raised in Vermont, Jascha Herlihy (’20) has always enjoyed the great outdoors. So, she was doubly excited to land her first job post-graduation for a company that values outdoor recreation as much as this native Vermonter. While her road to Idaho and position at Wild Rye as a Digital Content & Customer Service Coordinator was not easy, it was a testament to recognizing an opportunity to marry her passion with her career, and seizing the moment.
After initially attending Norwich University’s early college program, Jascha decided to head to Burlington, Vermont and attend UVM; specifically for its proximity to the Green Mountains and as a way to integrate the mountains into her college experience. Subsequently, throughout her college life Jascha joined several teams, sports clubs and opted in to a lot of group outings that shaped her personal and professional goals; everything from the UVM Cycling Team to becoming the sole woman lead for UVM’s Trek Mountain Biking trips.
On March 6th, 2020 Jascha left UVM for spring break and like hundreds of thousands of students across the country, she was not to return to a traditional senior spring semester and college life. As the coronavirus grew, she moved back to her family home in the Mad River Valley, to finish off her undergraduate degree from her comfortable, quaint mountain town.
Upon graduation, Jascha, like many graduates, were faced with the reality of being unemployed and living back at home with Mom and Dad. Upon reflection Jascha said “I want to walk out of college and have a 401k, a salary… I’ve never been unemployed, since I was 14! I’m not going to start now!”; the pressure she put on herself was suffocating.
After some much needed time at home unraveling the unexpected ending of campus and expectations of post-college life, Jascha Herlihy reassessed her personal goals, mashing together professional goals such as being employed with her personal goals of living in a mountain town, having a dog and much more simple pleasures. After extensive networking with people in the ski industry, she realized skiing wasn’t in fact a booming industry; many of the companies she was applying to were undergoing layoffs as they headed into the off-season during a global pandemic.
She shifted her focus and expanded her reach to another sector of outdoor recreation, mountain biking. With the help of a Facebook group that connects outdoor enthusiasts, Jascha discovered Wild Rye. Wild Rye is a women-led outdoor adventure gear company that fosters a nurturing community of go-getters; and they had a job opening.
Within ten days of applying for, and accepting the position at Wild Rye, Jascha packed her bags and drove 2,659 miles, 40 hours with two cans of Red Bulls and her mountain bike to take on the next chapter of her life.
Upon her arrival in Sun Valley, Idaho she quickly admitted “It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.” As Jascha settled into her new role focused on digital content, ambassador relations, content creation, collaborating with external marketing teams, customer service, fulfillment and inventory management, she realized she’s at the perfect starting point in her professional career. “At the end of the day having personal goals and a baseline of what you are willing to accept has provided me clarity and kept me grounded in my search for employment post-graduation” she said.
Finding your path is typically never a straight line and a blend of many things, but when like Jascha you are able to marry your passion with your career; the chances of success, growth and happiness are increased beyond measure.