This Cal gradient quit his job at the urging of Harry Styles

Catherine Dugoni never expected to get life-changing advice from her favorite pop heartthrob.

Dugoni, 23, lives in Sacramento and has worked externally for a marketing firm since graduating from UC Berkeley during the pandemic. And when she headed out to the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento for a Harry Styles concert Wednesday night, she would never have thought he would know her name, let alone give her career tips.

She had purchased tickets for his tour in support of the album “Fine Line” in 2019, when the album was first released. And after being a fan of Styles and the popular boy band One Direction for almost a decade and sitting in nosebleeds at these shows, she decided to use standing floor, pit tickets, despite being a college student at the time. (She remembered crying on a bench on campus in excitement.)

The show faced several delays, first it was pushed back from August 2020 to the next year before it was finally bumped into Wednesday.


“Oh, he will not even make eye contact with us,” Dugoni recalled as he thought of that moment. “It’s going to be fine. We’re just going. We’re dancing. We want to be silly. We’ll be silly. We have to have fun and not expect anything from it.”

And in preparation for the show, she had bought 11 x 17 poster paper.

It’s quite a ritual at Styles’ shows to have homemade signs read aloud by Styles so that fans will reveal both jokes and confessions on cardboard. There are absurdities of the sort, such as wanting to be slapped in the face by Styles or skipping funerals to attend his shows, but also sincere revelations like many fans coming out to family members at shows.

While waiting in line, Dugoni wrote two signs.

“I brought a felt-tip pen and I just sat down and I thought, ‘I just want to write something random,'” she said.

One of her signs said in plain black ink, “Tell me to quit my job.”

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This was a decision she had resented for months as she pondered with her family and friends and ultimately persevered because she “is not a big fan of change.” She had already planned to retire in early 2022.

“It’s been really hard the last year with the pandemic and working from home and being fresh out of college,” she said. “And my first job is completely remote… and has no interaction with people. The job is great, you know, people are cute, I love the company, but it just was not the right thing to do.”

Despite strange glances from a security guard, she was locked in with her sign in tow. A few other participants saw her signs and supported her.

And sitting at least three or four rows back, Dugoni was thrilled to be so close to Styles.

“This is honestly the closest I’ll ever get, and I’m okay with that,” she remembers thinking at the time.

And during a break, he starts reading signs. One of them, a classic “punch me in the face”. And then Styles read Dugoni’s sign after some teasing.

Catherine Dugoni holds her sign at the Harry Styles show.

Catherine Dugoni holds her sign at the Harry Styles show.

Lent by Catherine Dugoni

She knocked out, she joked. “He said, ‘tell me to quit my job,’ and then he says, ‘what are you doing?'”

In footage of the exchange, recorded by her friend, she tells Styles: “I work in marketing, but it makes me sad.”

“What do we think Catherine should do?” Styles asks, to the crowd shouting “stop!” “Do you want to work to live or live to work? What do you want to do?”

Dugoni replies, “I want to be a writer!” And Styles, who is always a gracious heartbreaker, tells her (and the crowd) that he would like to read her stuff.

She has not yet shared her stuff with Styles, partly because of the obvious challenge of reaching out to a global pop star, but also because she wanted to write a proper draft of material to show him.

The next day, she filed two weeks’ notice of her job – without telling her bosses the little Harry Styles detail. (Fortunately, her bosses supported her decision, she said.)

She remembers her younger brother, also a Styles fan, who half-ridiculed her because she accepted the advice of a celebrity instead of her own family. But in reality, Dugoni believes that the series of events that led her to resign was the icing on the cake.

“This is the character I needed from the universe,” Dugoni said. “That’s why I ended up giving my two weeks notice because I’m someone who will ponder and think about things for weeks and weeks and weeks and then just decide, ‘you know what, I am, I is tough enough I just hold it out, ‘until something like this happens. “

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