This past weekend I spent time away with my parents and Courtney in Lake George, NY. Other than an occasional Instagram post, I completely shut off – it was much needed and helped me focus and clarify where I am going with The Niche Movement. With that said, as I spent time with my parents, I continue to observe the importance of having really great family around you. Like I mentioned in a few of my previous posts, I am an only child, but was lucky to be surrounded by several great cousins that treated me like their little brother. One of them I am introducing into the "How I Found My Niche" series is my cousin Jennifer O’Connell Caputo.
As the youngest cousin, I always looked up to Jen like a big sister. Jen was always a great athlete especially, in field hockey. I played a lot of sports growing up like , soccer and golf and I always tried to excel as much as possible since Jen became a star athlete in her high school and went onto to play field hockey at Rutgers University her first year of college.
Jen went on to graduate from Rutgers with a degree in psychology and landed a great job with a consulting company as a HR recruiter. A few years later, I was in college and started to see Jen build a great future for herself. Her hard work and talent started to pay off and was promoted several times. She also met her husband Kevin at work and got married in August of 2003.
Believe it or not, the first (un)official date for Courtney and I was at Jen and Kevin’s wedding.
As I became more involved at FDU and started to build my “resume” to prepare myself for the real world, I was always able to turn to Jen for advice. Throughout my early twenties I turned to Jen for advice on jobs, interviewing, relationships, and family advice. Aside from Jen’s caring personality, one of her best skill sets that I admire most, is her ability to connect with anyone around her and start a conversation and keep it going.
As I have grown older, I still look up to Jen for several other reasons. She has a wonderful family - 7 year old twins, Joey & Addy. She stays active by taking cross fit classes at 5:30 every morning and runs occasional GORUCK and mud runs. And she still works full time for the same company she started with after college. The reason I mention all of this is because I know Jen leads a busy life. However, the reason I look up to her today, is that she makes the most of her days. She makes time for her family, friends, and manages a hectic life of work and raising twins, all while having a successful career.
When I look back, here are just a few ways Jen has always been there:
- supporting our fundraising efforts when I ran our first Habitat for Humanity trip in 2006.
- as a bridesmaid to Courtney in for our wedding in May 2010.
- to celebrate our house warming party in June 2010.
- to set up meetings with her company as Courtney and I launch our own projects in our careers.
- to throw some of the best family gathering and parties I've ever attended.
The last shoutout I have to mention is that Jen also organized a Hurricane Sandy Relief fund and raised thousands of dollars and collected 10,000+ toys in a matter of 4 weeks to donate to the community of Seaside Heights and the surrounding districts. All while taking care of her day to day responsibilities mentioned above.
She is truly an amazing person.
Thank you for everything Jen.
What they taught me:
As I get older, the time spent with family and close friends starts to become more precious and valued. Just like my cousin Jen, I am trying to live my life to the fullest and become successful while still making time for my family and friends that are near to Courtney and I. She has taught me that it is ok to be “busy” but when you are with your family (especially, parents) to shut off and be in the moment with them. It's something you will never get back, trust me.
How they inspired me:
Jen has inspired me (and Courtney) to set the bar high for yourself. Hard work does pay off but she has always instilled in me to have your work respected and receive what you are worth.
The closer you get to finding your niche, the more your career may pull you away from what really matters - your friends and family. It is important that you make time for those around you and that when you are in the moment, to be present.