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As the son of two educators, I had the luxury of a few weeks every year where our school vacations lined up and we would all go camping as a family. We would drive from Southern California to as many different parks as we could, from Yosemite to Arches to Yellowstone, hiking along the way. Because of this, I grew up with a love for mountain meadows, big trees, and wide vistas. Before my freshman year of college, I went backpacking with my dad through the Mammoth Lakes area of California, a fitting send-off before leaving for the mountain-less Midwest.
As a Chinese-American, I have never felt unwelcome in the outdoor community, despite the recent sentiment around our country. It may be the mutual awe we feel in our wild spaces that transcends feelings of hate. Still, my experience may not reflect those of others, and I hope to continue working towards greater inclusivity in the outdoor industry.
At Northwestern University, I was able to explore my passion for writing, taking on a double major in Journalism and English, with a focus in Creative Writing. I had the opportunity to hone my reporting skills while exploring avenues in magazine writing and multimedia journalism.
I covered stories on everything from student housing to teen nicotine use, but, partially through the influence of my junior year roommates, I found myself drawn to writing about businesses in order to understand them better. The stories I enjoyed writing most were about how different businesses found success or failure through novel value propositions or workplace techniques.
When I discovered this opportunity at Outside Business Journal, I was amazed that I would be able to continue learning in an environment so much aligned with what I wanted to do. Here was the opportunity to bridge my love for the outdoors with writing at a top business-to-business publication.
I’m very excited to work with this team of accomplished writers to cover the latest in the outdoor industry. It’s surreal to write about the same gear companies and retailers that I was so familiar with as a consumer. I can’t wait to see what stories we can tell here.
In my free time, I enjoy hiking, biking, playing soccer and trombone, and telling everyone I know about Richard Powers’ 2018 novel The Overstory.
To get in touch with Jiakai, email him at email@example.com.