He was laid off after 11 months with his first job. And of his first time to meet the person who would become his wife: “We did not get along at all.”
Washington, D.C., was where he wanted to work. Jordan Hale had spent summers in U.S. Rep. Steve Womack’s office doing the usual intern grunt work. Then, in 2013, he received the first John Paul Hammerschmidt Research Fellowship. The ongoing fellowship is a partnership between the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UAFS) and Rep. Womack’s office.
Hale intended to get a job in D.C., but what he saw didn’t match what he thought it would be. There was a lot of activity in D.C., he said, but not a lot of results.
The Pocola, Okla., native returned to Fort Smith. With no job opening at UAFS, Hale took a job as regional sales manager at Fort Smith-based OK Foods.
“Trent really did me a favor, honestly.”
Trent is OK Foods President Trent Goins. When Hale was a UAFS fraternity president, he met Goins in Moore, Okla., in support of tornado recovery efforts. The fraternity was helping cook meals, and OK Foods provided cooking equipment and food.
“That was kind of a lesson in itself, seeing a company like OK Foods doing that, seeing them dedicate those kinds of resources to a community not close to them,” Hale said.
A corporate realignment 11 months later left Hale without a job. It was another lesson.
“And that was a nice life lesson right there. They [OK Foods] invited me to apply for other positions, but I thought this was a good opportunity to find a new career path.”
Fortunately, there was an opening in the UAFS admissions office. From there, he moved up into what he says is his dream job — helping promote and build UAFS in the community and with government leaders.
“I know how fortunate I am to be in this role,” Hale said. “I had no doubt I could make it … but it’s weird to be in your dream job earlier than you thought.”
As for Kellie, his wife, they eventually got along. She’s in vet school at Oklahoma State University. Hale has become familiar with the scenery between Fort Smith and Stillwater, Okla.
Hale said his future dream jobs involve doing more to help UAFS grow.