#CLDE16: Welcome Roadtrip Nation!
In today’s world, when it comes to choosing a career, it seems as if anything you could ever need to know is readily available at your fingertips. Yet, despite this modern wealth of access and information, young adults still find themselves siloed by narrow ideas of career success, and are struggling to find jobs that accurately reflect their beliefs, align with their ethics, and keep them engaged and enthused about their work—why?
In 2001, three recent Pepperdine University graduates found themselves struggling with this same misalignment between their career expectations and the job opportunities offered to them. Despite knowing that there were thousands of options out there, these three friends—Mike, Nate, and Brian—kept getting put into standardized boxes marked “doctor,” “lawyer,” and “businessman.”
They figured that the best way to see what else was out there was by putting old-school interpersonal connections back into the job search. They decided to buy an RV, paint it bright green for no good reason, and hit the road to talk to people who did what they loved and ask them how they got to where they were.
On that first road trip, the three future Roadtrip Nation founders traveled all over the country and talked to over 80 individuals. What they found was that the people who were happiest in their jobs—whether that job was designing apparel for Nike or fishing for lobsters off the coast of Maine—were the people who had combined their unique interests and skills to create innovative and meaningful careers.
The insights gained from these conversations left an indelible mark, and it was clear that the wisdom they’d accrued was well-worth sharing. What started as a simple road trip evolved into a documentary series on public television, bestselling books, online tools, and student networks on campuses across the country—a movement they called “Roadtrip Nation,” which was dedicated to helping individuals explore their identities and build fulfilling lives and careers around their interests, with a special emphasis on self-reflection and real-world exposure.
At #CLDE16, Roadtrip Nation will be screening its latest project, documentary film Ready to Rise, which follows the journeys of Michael, Ryan, and Summer—three young people who are part of the 5.6 million youth in America currently out of work, out of school, and struggling with challenges as extreme as gang violence and homelessness.
As Michael, Ryan, and Summer traveled the country in Roadtrip Nation’s green RV, they met people who’d been in their shoes—people who showed them it’s possible to not only rise above adversity, but to harness it for success. The documentary features interviews with St. Louis alderman and advocate Antonio French, and New York Times best-selling author and entrepreneur Chris Gardner, whose life served as the inspiration for the Will Smith film, The Pursuit of Happyness—both of whom stressed the importance of fostering change through community engagement.
The themes and lessons from Ready to Rise will be echoed and built upon in an interactive breakout session the following day, led by Roadtrip Nation employees Aaron Farley and Jenny Pham. The workshop will provide an introduction to the philosophy of Roadtrip Nation, explore the impacts of the documentary, and examine how we can expand our efforts to continue to foster a sense of community within the career exploration space.
Roadtrip Nation is incredibly excited to take part in CLDE 2016—we can’t wait to hear the new and innovative ways in which our fellow partners and presenters are working to strengthen the bonds between classrooms and communities.