John Carroll University - BSBA, Business Management
A bicycle changed Jayme Moye’s career. The Boulder, Colo. resident had spent 10 years in the tech sector, using her degree in business management and information systems to work with a large accounting firm. It wasn’t her passion, but it paid the bills.
Then Jayme joined a women’s cycling team and started racing. As the team captain, one of her duties was to write the weekly race reports. There, Jayme rediscovered her love for writing and, with some good timing, connections and her credibility as a successful cyclist, scored a writing assignment for a cycling magazine.
Today, Jayme is the managing editor at “Elevation Outdoors,” a Boulder-based magazine that covers outdoor sports, adventure travel and more. “I’d found a viable way to earn an income doing something I loved, and with that knowledge, I just couldn’t go back to being satisfied with a career as a database analyst,” she says.
Go hard or go home. If you want something, you absolutely have to go for it. If you don’t have the motivation or energy to go all in, ask yourself why. It’s been my experience that the answer is always telling.
What sparked you to walk away from your technology job—and the life you had created—to become a travel writer?
I’ve always been a writer, from journaling to serving as editor of my school newspaper in the 8th grade to writing for the high school literary magazine. But in college, I wasn’t sure how to translate a love of reading and writing into a viable career—I didn’t want to be a newspaper reporter or an English teacher or work in marketing or PR. So I studied business management with a focus on computer information systems, because that seemed like a way to at least get started in the world and find a good job. I took one such job immediately after graduation doing high tech business consulting for what was, in 1998, one of the big five accounting firms. I spent 10 years working in the tech sector, knowing it wasn’t exactly my dream job, but was fast-paced, challenging and more than paying the bills.
Things started shifting when I joined a women’s cycling team where I lived in Boulder, Colorado. I was 30 years old and it was some of the most fun I’d had in my adult life. I started racing and was good at it, so I became the team captain. One of my duties was to write race reports after each weekend of racing that summer; sort of a lessons learned document. I wrote them in first person narrative style—a humorous blow-by-blow of the race. The team loved them. Everyone would tell me, “You should write for VeloNews.” At that stage in my career, I was working as a database analyst at Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) and the only writing I’d been doing, other than race reports, were work emails. VeloNews is a cycling magazine published out of Boulder. I thought about it and it kind of hit me: I should write for VeloNews. The year was 2007.
A teammate introduced me to one of the editors at VeloNews and they happened to be in need of a woman to pen a review of women-specific mountain bikes for their upcoming 2008 Buyer’s Guide. Based on my background as team captain and my ranking as the #1 amateur female racer in the state at the time, plus a healthy dose of sheer will (and okay, the luck of good timing), I got the assignment. I was hooked. I spent the rest of 2007 and all of 2008 pitching magazine stories about cycling and adventure—two things I knew well being an active person living in Colorado—on the side of my job at Sun.
By January 2009, I knew I couldn’t stay in the tech world any longer. I’d found a viable way to earn an income doing something I loved, and with that knowledge, I just couldn’t go back to being satisfied with a career as a database analyst. So I left. My last day was January 23, 2009 and I’ve never looked back.
Going back to your original question, I like to think that the bike sparked me to walk away from my tech job. The bike has been tied to women’s empowerment dating back to the close of the 19th century when women first straddled bicycles and allied two-wheel transportation to the women’s suffrage movement. Road bike racing cultivated a new level of confidence and courage that was essential to the major career change I made, as well as the lifestyle changes necessary due to drastically reduced income and a divorce in in 2010.
What does your job involve on a daily basis and what types of responsibilities do you have in your position?
I write every day, working on either assignments or pitches. I also engage daily with Facebook and Twitter, both for self-promotion and to keep abreast of what’s relevant to my network. Most days I do some sort of online research or phone/Skype interviews, whether it’s background for a story or a pitch. In my downtime, I read articles in my target magazines, both for pleasure and to generate new ideas. I try to get out of the house once a day to meet someone for coffee or happy hour, or to go for a run, ride or hike. It keeps me refreshed and the interaction with friends and colleagues often leads to new story ideas.
You’ve traveled all over. What’s your favorite destination?
It’s my home in Boulder, Colorado. No matter how amazing the experience or place I’ve just traveled to, I’m always excited to come home. Boulder is my sanctuary, my safe haven, my happy place. I love the sunny days and the mountains and the outdoorsy lifestyle and the foodie culture and the intellectual, progressive, athletic people who live here.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Writing. I know some people write to fuel their travel obsession, but I’m the opposite. I travel, I experience, I adventure, all to generate fodder to fuel my writing. People ask me how I decide where to travel or which adventures to take. The answer is easy: I don’t choose. The story chooses. And I follow the story, wherever it takes me.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
Sometimes the story takes me to a place where I’m horribly uncomfortable. In April, I went to Afghanistan to tell the story of the first cycling team in the country to allow women. These female cyclists represent a marked departure from traditional Muslim culture and are the vanguard of change in a post-Taliban Afghanistan. I wanted so badly to be there, to meet them, to hear their story and to tell their story, but I was terrified of the location. The weeks leading up to the trip were rough for me. I was incredibly stressed and worried. Once there, it wasn’t any easier. The Taliban launched their spring offensive while I was in Kabul and I literally could not sleep. For 10 days. I’ve been back for three weeks now and I’m still having trouble falling asleep.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Not exactly, but then again, my work and life are completely co-mingled, and in the most wonderful way. One tactic I use: I’m the type of person who does best with structure in her day, so I try to stick to a routine. I get up at 7:30 a.m. and am at my home office desk by 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. I work until 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m., with breaks in the day for coffee or happy hour, or exercise—runs, bike rides or hikes. I typically also do some work in the evenings, but that’s just because I enjoy it. Similarly, I enjoy doing some work on the weekends. When I’m traveling for an extended stint and not doing much writing, I actually start to get agitated.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I can't believe I have this job?" What was it?
Every day. I can’t believe this is my life. It’s everything I ever wanted to do and everything I ever wanted to be. There are also deeply gratifying moments on the job, like getting my first paycheck for my first published story in VeloNews in 2008, seeing my first article for National Geographic Adventure published, visiting Rwanda on the 15th anniversary of the genocide, standing on top of Mt Kilimanjaro—the highest point in Africa, trekking across the West Bank of Palestine and sleeping with the Bedouins, getting an email from a friend or a stranger after they read a revealing personal narrative about panic disorder and having them say “me too,” staring down at Machu Picchu in the very early morning, landing my first assignment for the Atlantic. The list goes on. I’m overwhelmingly grateful for my career.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Go hard or go home. If you want something, you absolutely have to go for it. If you don’t have the motivation or energy to go all in, ask yourself why. It’s been my experience that the answer is always telling. Perhaps it doesn’t really mean that much to you, or perhaps you’re striving for the wrong goal or a goal that someone else thinks is important.
“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.” -Rumi.
I’m picky about who I spend time with. There are only so many hours in a day, in a week, in a life. I try to surround myself with people who inspire me, who get me, who motivate me, who make me a better person. And that’s a two-way street. When you get two people like that together, it’s an exponential increase in passion and fire and energy. As my friend and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Shannon Galpin says, “Shit gets done.”
Be authentic. I’m reading Brene Brown’s new book, Daring Greatly, and she makes this point far more eloquently than I ever will, but I’ll try anyway. Knowing yourself, and being true to your values, is probably the most meaningful thing you can do with your existence and the only way you’ll ever be able to achieve the deep connection with others that we all desire. But authenticity requires the grace to be vulnerable—which for type A people like myself is terrifying. But I’m working on it. Because I’ve never felt so alive, so strong, as in those times when I’m being true to myself—even when it means disappointing another.
Practice gratitude. My adventure-writing career affords me a glimpse of the entire spectrum of human travel, from $10,000-a-night penthouses at Vail Ski Resort to backpacking across the central plateau of Haiti—the most deforested, poverty-stricken place I’ve ever known. The constant juxtaposition can leave me feeling a bit bewildered—why do some have so much while others have so painfully little? I’ve found that these types of thoughts can drive a person crazy. When they creep into my head, I try to catch it and switch to gratitude. Gratitude for what I’ve seen, for what I’ve experienced, for the incredible spectrum that constitutes the human existence.
What qualities does one need to possess to be successful in your line of work?
You need to be unapologetically curious. Part of that comes from a natural inquisitiveness, and part of it comes from genuinely caring about other people. I want to know everyone’s story, all the time.
You need to remember that while writing may be your passion, it is also a business. There are specific business processes that magazines follow that dictate how they decide which pitches they assign and which they pass over. I’ve sent great pitches that have been rejected because a similar topic had already been assigned in an upcoming issue. You can’t take it personally. If a pitch doesn’t hit, revise it for another publication, or let it go and move on. Writing may be your art, but if you want to make it your source of income, you’ve got to be able to step back and take a business perspective.
You have to cultivate your craft. Natural writing talent is not enough to achieve a successful career as a freelance magazine writer. There is a big difference between personal writing (even exceptionally well-written personal writing) and professional writing; most notably in the way professional stories are structured. Further, there are trends in professional writing and those shift over time. Right now, for example, it’s trendy to open a narrative in scene, dropping the reader straight into the action. In order to learn to upgrade my personal writing style to what’s required in professional writing and to understand the current writing trends and how to execute them, I joined a writing group and hired a writing coach. I view cultivating my craft as a lifelong commitment and am continually looking for new mentors and other writers to follow who are taking it to the next level.
Sell yourself. Part of selling a story is selling yourself as the right person to write that story. This means you have to be comfortable with self-promotion, sharing your career successes and accolades and engaging in social media. Not everyone is comfortable with this. But doing it is crucial. I’ve found that part of building my career is building my relevance in the industry and that means connecting with other readers, writers and editors on Facebook and LinkedIn and following writers I admire (and making my profile appealing enough that they follow me back) on Twitter. And yes, sometimes I toot my own horn, when I win awards or get invited to speak at a university or writing conference or a new story hits newsstands.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
You don’t have to have it all figured out. It’s okay to graduate college and enter the workforce without really knowing what you want to do when you grow up. Just pick something that will help get you started, pay off your student loans and allow you to become independent from your parents. As far as your ideal job and ultimate contribution to the world, you’ll figure it out eventually. That stuff takes wisdom and experience; something you don’t really have when you’re just starting out. Just stay alert and present and make choices consistent with your values. I love this quote by Rainer Maria Rilke and I wish I had it in my inspiration arsenal when I was 21:
“ ... have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”