By Nicole Melville

Cheyenne wasn’t on my radar, but neither was Cleveland. After finishing ad school in Atlanta, I had grand plans of living in NYC for a couple years, then jetting off to L.A. for another couple, then perhaps Minneapolis or maybe even London. I never expected to move to a city whose population is less than most packed college football stadiums on a brisk fall Saturday afternoon. A novel idea for a lot of people, let alone a queer woman.

My job search began with the intent of moving to Chicago. After living a plane ride away from my family for the better part of my adult life, I wanted to finally make the trek closer to my childhood home. I began my search by talking to a couple recruiters, searching apps, and signing up for email alerts based on my criteria. My timetable was flexible and I enjoyed my job at the time, so I was holding out for something good.

As the emails came in, I would give them a cursory look and maybe click on a couple that sounded interesting. Like Warehouse Twenty One, for example. Their work was dope and it looked like they had fun doing it. However, I almost pulled the plug when I saw they were located in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I didn’t really know anything about Cheyenne or Wyoming outside of Yellowstone and its proximity to Denver. Fortunately, the work had already piqued my interest enough to apply. When they offered to fly me out for an interview, I decided I would really have to be wowed in order to move out west, further from my family.

On my drive up from Denver to Cheyenne, I was in awe of the mountains and golden plains. I’ve explored most of the coasts and everything east of the Mississippi, but never this middle region. The wide open spaces felt freeing. I’m not sure if it’s the legal pot in Colorado or the vacancy of humans in Wyoming, but I was getting such a chill vibe from this place – one that is rarely found in the east.

Thanks to W21’s unusual interview process where the entire company interviews you all at once (less terrifying than you would expect), I was quickly able to get a sense for the high quality of work they produced, what they stood for as a company, and the company culture. Dammit! I had been wowed. Wowed not only by the work, but especially wowed by the people.

For instance, unprompted, and prior to my interview, Jordan, the Creative Director, introduced me to the Executive Director of Wyoming Equality via email. His foresight into thinking that I might have concerns moving to a small town as an “L” in the LGBT community impressed me almost more than the work. It wasn’t just his foresight, but that he actually cared. And it was genuine.

Still, I did have very real concerns. Thanks to that introduction, I was able to meet with Sara Burlingame from Wyoming Equality while in Wyoming for my W21 interview. She eased some of those concerns and gave me a realistic view of what it might be like to live in Cheyenne, along with some of the major hurdles I might encounter. I can honestly say that without speaking with her, I’m not sure that I would have accepted the position, despite how impressed I was with W21. That level of thoughtfulness from Jordan, was the feather in his cap, and ultimately tied a bow on an already crackerjack visit. Oh, idioms galore!

Now that I have lived here for almost a year and a half, I can confirm I made the right choice. I’m a proud board member of Wyoming Equality, which has allowed me to see how much of an impact one organization can have on a smaller community. My dad and mom said there are so many things on their bucket list out here, so even though I won’t see them as regularly, we will be able to have great experiences together like climbing mountains, instead. Finally, I’ve had the opportunity to work on some major campaigns that are all portfolio quality. It just so turns out, you don’t have to live in a big city to create killer advertising.