Smooth Sailing: Transitioning from College to the Real World

Posted on September 28, 2011


By Jessica DeMattia

           When Kyle Billheimer graduated from FGCU in May, he knew exactly where he wanted to work. Billheimer, who had interned for Fox4 News for his senior year, applied for a production assistant’s job at WINK. He also knew what he didn’t want to do, which was to work at his father’s restaurant, The Lighthouse Café, on Sanibel Island.

            “I knew the restaurant business wasn’t for me and that I had to get out,” Billheimer says, “When you know you don’t want to do something, why keep doing it?”

            Billheimer, who earned his bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in political science, briefly considered moving out of the area to obtain immediate work, but he also left his information at both WINK and Fox4.

“While I was interning at Fox4, I saw so many production assistants come and go, so I knew something would come up quickly, at least at Fox4 anyway,” Billheimer said.

            So, when WINK called to Billheimer’s pleasant surprise, he anxiously scheduled an interview and began the wait. His initial reaction coming out of the interview was that it went well but in an uncertain economy, he would not have been surprised either way.

“When I got the job, I was so excited,” Billheimer said, “WINK has one of the top-rated newscasts in the area and so I was excited to get the opportunity.”

            Despite this victory for Billheimer, there was still one thing standing in his way: The Lighthouse Café. During his tenure at the café, Billheimer had worked his way from busser to server to host. The host, Billheimer says, was the last one to leave the building. He counted the money and locked the door. However, since The Lighthouse Café only opens at night during the season, Billheimer only hosted for one season.

            When Billheimer first started working for WINK, he decided to try working at the restaurant only one day a week as a busser. He figured it would be a little extra cash to pay the bills with. However, when the demands of the station continued to pile up, Billheimer gave his shift to another employee.

            “He already offered to take the shift,” Billheimer said, “Now I really feel like I’m transitioning from college student to a career man.”

            Billheimer feels that his decision to target WINK as his first choice job helped him transition quickly and easily from the restaurant business. Had Billheimer decided to wait for a few months and take the summer off, he doesn’t think he’d be in the position he is now.

            Billheimer also got surprising support from his father, Mike Billheimer, who says his son is always welcome back at the restaurant. In fact, Billheimer has already made a guest appearance at the restaurant. Despite his willingness to fill in when needed, Billheimer has other plans for himself.

            “By this time next year, I want to be in my own place,” he says, “If that means working at the restaurant on my nights off, then I’ll do it. I have to be the one that makes things happen for me; I can’t just expect everything to fall in my lap.”

Setting goals and deadlines for himself helps Billheimer feel motivated to accomplish what he wants to.

 Billheimer also aspires to relocate to Manhattan, where his cousin and close friends live. He says it would be nice to move out of state, since he is a native Floridian.

“New York is certainly the place to experience cultural diversity,” Billheimer says.

            But for the moment, Billheimer is just happy to be out of the restaurant business.

Posted in: Jessica DeMattia