Our College Workforce: It's Bittersweet
A significant strength of our company comes from our college-age workforce. But as we approach a new summer moving season, it is often bittersweet as we have employees who are graduating and moving on to other places and new careers. Today’s post is highlighting one such employee: Stephen Lillyman. He is a unique individual and has been an outstanding employee. Part of his uniqueness comes from a very unique life story.
We’ll let Steve tell his story and then close with how KMS has helped to shape him as he prepares to graduate from UN-Kearney in May and move to Chicago.
Unique Childhood: From Australia to Chicago Suburbs to...Nebraska?
Well, I was born in the land of kangaroos, the Land Down Under, and lived there until I was 7. My memories are limited primarily to Sydney, Australia, but I remember feeding the vibrantly colored parrots on our porch, building forts in the banana trees, and going to the ocean. At age 7, we hopped the ocean and moved to a suburb of Chicago. I recall being teased for my Aussie accent, but I found a great group of buddies and we spent almost every minute together.
When I was finishing junior high, my parents decided to move to Kearney. I remember trying to locate Nebraska on maps with my friends, and I wondered what life would be like. My friends teased me about the lack of electricity, desolate farmland, and the possibility of Indian raids. As it turned out, I enjoyed living a boy’s dream on my family’s 15-acre plot of land north of Kearney: catching snakes, paintballing, dirt biking, fishing, and on and on.
Catching the Travel Bug
Immediately following high school, I decided to study in England and backpack around Europe. While living in England, I met my first South Korean friend, and I was convinced that I would visit him in Korea at some point. I was right. The following summer I was able to teach English at a summer school in my friend’s hometown in the mountains of South Korea. After that summer, my passion and love for the country, its people, language, and culture, was ignited. It felt like my second home. After that summer I returned to Kearney to attend UN-Kearney for the fall semester and then to Sydney, Australia for the spring semester. But I wanted to travel back to South Korea.
Immersed in the South Korean culture
Not surprisingly, I traveled to South Korea again, but this time I decided to stay and work on the apple farm that my friend’s parents owned. For nearly a year, I lived in a small remote city in the mountains of South Korea, waking each day at 5am and working until sundown. It was some of the hardest work of my life, but it was also some of the most rewarding and fascinating. I pulled a plow through the fields, spent days clearing huge stones from the fields, prepped apple fields for the season, and harvested thousands of apples in a day. Most of this was by hand as the plots of land were far too steep for large machines.
While there, I truly become a part of the Korean culture, immersed in all its customs and behaviors. I truly felt it was my home away from home. During my time there, I also attended summer schools in Seoul and I lived with my Korean friend who became like a brother to me.
When it came time to return to UNK, my Korean-friend decided to transfer to UNK. While at UNK, he introduced me to another Korean who would later become my wife. We quickly became the best of friends and were engaged within 7 months.
Although I am now married, we continue to travel: 4 times to South Korea, and we both studied abroad in the Czech Republic.
We see our life as an adventure as we embrace change and new opportunities.
Steve's Thoughts on Kearney Moving
I first became acquainted with Kearney Moving when the company moved my family from Chicago to Kearney, NE. Interestingly enough my mother, two brothers, and brother in-law all have worked for Kearney Moving at different times since our move to Nebraska.
I began working here part-time in 2011 and after my first few jobs I was hooked. I loved the guys I worked with and found that I quickly fit in. Work was a blast, and I enjoyed the physical aspect of the job as well, getting in a workout while I worked.
I can say with all honesty, when I first arrived at KMS I was pretty green, lacking a great number of skills that I quickly had to learn. I was horrible with tools, barely knowing their names, and was also not the strongest kid. I always made sure to work as hard as I could and applied myself to learning all the skills that were needed. I had a great number of guys above me that patiently taught me. After some time I became a manager and later was given the chance to use my graphic design skills to create advertising materials and training videos.
Steve's Future Plans
I will be moving out of Kearney, NE at the end of this semester. I am currently looking for a job and will join my wife in Chicago where she is already working. We look forward to living and working in Chicago together for some time, getting some work experience under our belt. I’m interested in pursuing an MBA / International Business sometime in the future, and we'd like to return to Korea again.
As I transition to a new chapter of life I am thankful for my time with Kearney Moving. I appreciate the great leadership that made this company one that I am proud to have worked for. Kearney Moving is truly a hidden gem, a place that is full of quality and genuine individuals who are honest, caring, and fun. I built lifelong friendships and learned skills that I will never forget. I appreciate the patience and flexibility during my schooling and travels. I truly consider my boss a friend and mentor. I have learned so much from him, and this has laid a foundation upon which I can build my future goals and dreams. How many workplaces do you know where that is the case?