Nestled in an area that looked straight out of a photograph, the Crossroads of America Council, Boy Scouts of America located on Fall Creek Road was a dream come true for my first Half a Day with a Pro experience.
In our application to participate with Half a Day with a Pro, we had to rank from 1-3 our most desired field of PR to experience – nonprofit, agency or corporate. While I wanted to experience all three dominant branches of PR, the versatility and variability of nonprofit appealed to me most.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the experience did not disappoint!
Walking into the Crossroads of America Council, a recently built structure – I was struck by the modern layout and architecture. This was not your average office space. High wooden beams stretched across the ceiling and a warm, friendly atmosphere permeated throughout giving the impression that a campfire and s’mores were not far away.
Partnered with Mary, an equally excited albeit anxious Purdue University student, we were greeted by Emily Elliott, the Marketing and Public Relations Director and Cara Wagner, the Marketing and Public Relations Executive.
Following the grand tour, the four of us gathered in Emily’s office and right out of the gate – I was thrilled. There we were – Emily, a 2012 Butler University grad…Cara, a 2012 University of Indianapolis grad…Mary, a junior at Purdue…and me, a junior at IUPUI. Not only was it exciting to see a meeting of four journalism and public relations programs and PR students/pros but the vitality and youthful potential that exists in the field of PR and nonprofits was also encouraging.
Here were my key takeaways:
- Internships, internships, internships – Get them. And as many as possible. The more contact you have with different nonprofits, agencies and corporations you can get as an intern – the better. It will give you an idea and a direction of what to pursue.
- Make connections – Emily and Cara couldn’t say it enough. The importance of networking, oft-repeated, is paramount. It is important to maintain mutually beneficial relationships. Keep the lines of communication open between you and the connections you make – and not just when you are asking for something or need a favor. Simply reaching out to your connections and grabbing coffee or lunch every couple of months is a great way to maintain and build important relationships.
- Stay educated and be prepared! – As someone who reviews resumes and hires interns, Emily stressed the importance of being educated in your interviews with possible employers. Being prepared with writing samples, a varied portfolio and a healthy knowledge of the company will set you apart and increase your chances of scoring the internship or job of your dreams.
- Be open to possibilities but leverage your talents and goals –
- Cara entered the corporate world immediately after graduating and quickly found it wasn’t for her. Although a vital experience, she spoke of the importance of not categorizing all nonprofits, agencies and corporations into their own little boxes. Not all nonprofits are made the same – the same goes for agencies and corporations as well. Be open to experiencing things outside of your comfort zone.
- Alternatively, Emily took a summer off after graduating before heading out into the “twenty-something world.” She leveraged her previous internships as well as her connections in order to secure the job she wanted.
- There are many different avenues of success and the key to obtaining success isn’t always found right after graduating college. Test your limits, be open and use experiences and connections to achieve your goals.
- Know when to “growl” – There is a lot of diversity in the workplace and it is important to have the ethical foundation as well as the confidence to be able to speak up if an uncomfortable or inappropriate work situation arises.
Overall, the experience I had with Half a Day with a Pro was incredible. Not only was it a morning that I was able to learn from exceptional professionals but it gave me the opportunity to attend a Hoosier PRSA Luncheon where even more amazing and talented PR pros and students gathered.