When Matt Heppner was eight years old, he was attacked and bitten by a dog. That led him to fear canines for more than 20 years, yet he overcame his fear about two years ago when a stray pit bull wandered up to his door and the pair became best friends.
Matt says he had a similar experience with education.
Throughout high school, Matt was more interested in having fun than focusing on his studies, and that disinterest led him to pursue other opportunities after graduation.
“I wasn’t afraid of college, but I didn’t understand its value and the importance of getting a college education,” says Matt, one of Trueline’s content developers.
In his late 20s, his girlfriend at the time convinced him to go to college. He overcame his aversion to higher education and, at the age of 30, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing with a concentration in promotional writing from Ferris State University.
“I was the first in my family to go to college, and it was a surreal and proud moment when I graduated,” Matt says.
A Fork in the Road
Matt grew up in Bay City, Michigan, a short ride from Lake Huron, and has a big family. His parents had three kids before they turned 19—Matt is the middle child—and after they divorced, his dad had two more children with his new wife who already had a son of her own. His mother remarried someone who had three kids of their own.
Matt’s family moved a lot, and he spent lots of time at the local Boys & Girls Club where he learned quickly how to talk to different people and make friends. He was a Michigan State basketball fan from a young age and dreamed of working for the Detroit Pistons, though he didn’t give much thought to what he’d need to achieve to reach that goal.
For about eight years after high school, Matt operated a forklift for Menards, a home improvement retail store. But after nearly a decade in that job, Matt knew that whatever path he wanted to take in life, it wasn’t going to be with Menards.
After college graduation, Matt says he came to a fork in his life’s road. At that point, Matt had been with his current partner for two years, and both realized being stuck at home was dragging them down. So they packed up and headed south to Raleigh, North Carolina.
Moving Home, Finding Trueline
In March 2020, a few months after arriving in Raleigh, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and Matt was sent home from his job at a point-of-sale software company. He and his girlfriend were at a crossroads again. And for about five months after moving to Columbus, Ohio, Matt was jobless, bored and looking for a spark and a purpose.
“I met the founder of a local organization called Ohio Youth Development and got certified by the National Hunger Alliance to give out food and work with the clients,” Matt says.
After working for two years at State Farm selling insurance and handling insurance claims, Matt came across a job listing from Trueline. He says he connected with Joy Wilkie, the company’s director of people and culture, and was sold on the company and the position after speaking with Ian Miller, an assistant content developer who started with Trueline as a sales development coordinator—just like Matt.
“I knew from the beginning that I didn’t just want to make outbound cold calls, so I viewed the starting SDC role as a steppingstone,” Matt says.
After being hired in February last year, he quickly rose from sales development coordinator—making hundreds of outbound calls per day—to content developer, spending time gathering notes about features for use in future articles. Matt says that while it hasn’t been difficult, the content developer position does provide challenges.
“You never know how the person on the other end of the phone is going to feel at that moment,” he says. “And before taking this job, I didn’t have a lot of experience with interviewing people.”
Now, Matt and Jessica are back home in Michigan. He spends his time gathering notes for potential feature stories, connecting with colleagues and visiting the local recreation center to play basketball and stay connected to his community.
“I’ve learned so much in my first year at Trueline and met so many great people—some of them in person. I can’t wait to see what the future holds at this engaging and exciting company,” he says.
Bonus Facts on Matt Heppner:
Did you know? In high school, Matt Heppner called his school’s football games for a local public access TV station. He shares a birthday—December 15—with Don Johnson, Alana Haim, Gustave Eiffel and the Roman emperor Nero, who was born in the year 37 AD.
Who’d play you? Danny McBride or Larry David.
Bucket list: Visiting Iceland. Having a basketball court as his house.
Greatest achievement so far: Going back to school and earning a college degree at the age of 30.