To understand why I left Utah, it’s important to also understand why I moved to Utah in the first place. In May of 2018, I graduated from Kansas State University with my MFA in digital media, but I skipped my own masters graduation ceremony to go car-camping around Utah with my good friend Emilie. We started in Salt Lake City, did mountain drives, visited some breweries, drove west to see the salt flats, and got to know the city before trekking southward to some of our nation's most incredible national parks. It was exactly the adventure I needed after years spent earning my second degree, and after only a few days breathing that dry, thin air I felt like I could see myself living “life elevated”. After returning from our road adventure to Salt Lake City, I was at Emilie’s alone applying for jobs while she was at work. Most jobs were located in Chicago, but on a whim I decided to take a look at SLC as a potential new place of employment. A few attractive opportunities and a handful of completed applications later, I found myself in the interview process with the company I would end up giving a year of my life to.
Life in Salt Lake was great at first. Emilie and I made a great adventure team, soaking up what was left of the hot Utah summer taking photos and exploring. However, once winter came, so did greater work responsibilities for Emilie, and she (tragically, in my opinion) ended up getting relocated to Denver. Left in Salt Lake City with neither friends nor a single skiing bone in my body, I was bored and borderline depressed. Work was also kicking my ass.
My job wasn’t hard by any means, but the environment was nothing short of toxic. Our small marketing department saw over half of its members get let-go or leave voluntarily in the year I worked for the company. Turn-over was high, morale was low, and confidence in our leadership was non-existent. Only 3 months in I knew I had to find a way out, but struggled to find another opportunity in Salt Lake City that matched my skill set so well (I was a social media manager / influencer manager / designer when needed). So I stuck it out and counted the days until my lease was up. I hated the feeling of being alone in a city whose opportunities, despite growth in both population and industry, hadn’t expanded enough to support job security for creatives like myself.
Moving back eastward to Chicago was a no-brainer. My whole family was still there, as well as an expansive network of friends, a healthy job market, and most importantly, Portillo’s. I began saving to leave in March, and by June I was ready to make the leap. There’s no better time than summer in the city, and words cannot describe how much better I feel to be somewhere with a support system in place. I’m thrilled to call Chi-town (or for now, the suburbs) my home!