What was the timeline from when you left The Bachelor to becoming The Bachelorette?
"I got the phone call from my company about whether or not I could stay or leave hours before the Rose Ceremony and I made the choice to leave the show. I went right back to work that following Monday when I got home. I got approached - it was after I was already off the show and it aired - a while later and it was honestly not something I ever imagined I would be asked to do, and I was really shocked and nervous. By the time I was approached I felt like I was healed from the show, and in order to make my decision about whether or not I wanted to become The Bachelorette, I wanted to make sure I saw the season finale of The Bachelor so I could have closure with that and move on with my next adventure."
Are you happy with the men they picked for you?
"I'm so happy with the guys I got this season. One thing I said to the producers coming in was that I didn't want the male model who can't put two sentences together. I want smart, interesting guys that are going to keep me excited about the relationship and who they are and what they bring to the table. That's exactly what I got and I'm so happy. I want to thank each and every one of them for coming because they made the experience really great for me."
How important were first impressions to you?
"Actually, I was going in thinking that first impressions wouldn't really mean anything to me because I've always been the type of girl who will go for a guy who has told me a story that is really interesting or has made me laugh. I was so nervous that first night that I don't even think I remember a lot of the first impressions! It doesn't weigh that heavily."
Were you confident you would find love?
"Oh, I was so confident going into this that I could find my husband. I would not have done this show otherwise. When I was first approached to be The Bachelorette I had a lot of concerns. I was so happy in my career and job and I loved being in San Francisco. I just didn't know if it was the right choice. I had a conversation with my best friends and they said to me, 'If you find your husband on this show, nothing else matters'. That's when I knew that being on the show was the right choice and I was absolutely confident from night one that my husband would be in that room and I like to think I kept that confidence."
Are you ready to have kids or start a family?
"Let me clear this up! There are some articles out there I have seen suggesting that I want children right away. That is not the case! Chris Harrison asked me where I wanted to be in five years and I said, 'I want to be pregnant in five years', meaning when I am 30 I want to be pregnant with my first child. So am I ready for kids now? Absolutely not! I still have a career I want to build and things I want to accomplish before I am ready to start a family."
Have you thought about what sort of wedding or engagement ring you want?
"Oh my gosh, I have never in my life thought about what my wedding would be like! My uncle is actually a jeweller and he's always said that Asscher cut is pretty nice so I guess if I had to pick something that is what I'd go for. For the wedding dress I'd want something really simple, and I'd want my hair to be really natural. I plan on wearing Converse under my wedding dress so it has to be long enough to hide those! I don't like to be all glammed up, I like to be natural, so I think I'd have a natural look."
Now that you've gone through the process, do you have more understanding of what Jake went through?
"Absolutely. I just remember thinking when I was on The Bachelor, 'Why would Jake be insecure about anything? He has all these girls here vying for his attention'. But being on The Bachelorette, I get it. People can say to me all day, 'I'm falling for you, you're beautiful'. All these words, but to me, I always found myself questioning that. Is this person being sincere? Do they really care for me? One thing that was important for me to make clear to the guys was, 'I am offering you a rose but you are accepting it back. Don't accept it if you don't want it'. It was important for me that they knew this was serious and not just a game. I have so much more respect for Jake and Jillian and Jason and everyone who has been through this. It is really difficult and by far the hardest thing I've ever done."
Have you spoken to any former Bachelorettes or Jake about being the one handing out the roses?
"I haven't spoken to Jake at all actually, not even to this day. I actually think there is a good chance I might be running into him and Vienna soon and I hope to talk to him about my journey a little bit. I did talk to Jillian Harris beforehand. She wanted this to be my experience and to wish me luck. Her advice was basically to make sure I had a lot of travel hairspray on hand when I was on the road! She was really sweet saying, 'Oh I'm so glad you're the next Bachelorette', and all that. I haven't actually met her in person but I hope to in the future."
Do you think looking back that you made the right decision leaving The Bachelor?
"I think that at the time it was the right decision in the sense that I don't think I'm supposed to be with Jake. He found someone and he is with Vienna and they are happy and I'm happy for them. But, do I think that choosing a job over someone who is potentially the love of your life is the wrong choice? I do. It's kind of hard to answer. If I had stayed, would I have ended up with Jake? I don't think so. I think he would have ended up with Vienna anyway. So in that sense I think it is the right choice but I'm so glad that I now know I will never make that choice again."
Are you happy with how the season ends?
"I'm happy right now and I'm really confident with the decisions I made all along the way, whether it was the third Rose Ceremony, the fifth or the last. I don't have any regrets and I'm really happy right now."
The Bachelorette premieres May 24 at 9pm on ABC