Two years ago last month, I had just graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in strategic communications and returned from the trip of a lifetime in Italy with my best friend when I saw the job posting for a position at a leading PR firm in downtown Oklahoma City.
Of course, I leaped at the opportunity and applied right away. I was quickly emailed by my now-boss, Taylor Ketchum, who asked if I could come in for an interview that week. I interviewed the very next day and got the call on that Friday with the job offer.
I was thrilled to start my career in a field I had been working so hard to pursue throughout college and so thankful this opportunity came swiftly after graduation. While in college, you read case studies focused on PR tactics used in life-changing crisis situations such as 911 and office shootings as well as large-scale advertising campaigns such as Nike, General Electric and Dove while imagining if your future career will ever amount.
You’re supposed to dream big and shoot for the stars, but as a communications student in Oklahoma, you’re frequently told you have to move out of state to New York, Chicago, Dallas, etc. to work on the big campaigns.
The biggest thing I’ve learned in my two years on the job is that this statement is definitely false. There are so many misconceptions I came into my career with such as:
I thought I’d be grabbing lunch for my boss. Instead, I’m having lunch with my boss.
I always thought the CEO of a company was some majestic creature that you only saw in the company newsletter. I’ve been pleased to work for a company where my office is just a couple of desks down from my CEO and I feel completely comfortable with approaching her door with any questions I have. She attends regular meetings with the team, randomly treats us to lunch and puts our needs above all. Get yourself a CEO like Brenda Jones Barwick!
I thought I’d answer the phones. Instead, I’m answering calls from top executives and key media reporters.
Although I did my time as the new person on staff charged with answering the phones, it still shocks me when the president of a top aerospace company or a media reporter calls me on my cell phone to chat about a project or interview.
I thought I’d take notes at meetings. Instead, I’m leading them.
You always hear that you’ll basically be an assistant to your boss your first couple of years but its refreshing (and a bit scary) to take the lead on important business meetings and projects. In my first two years, I’ve planned large-scale events with top-tier speakers including the Lt. Governor’s Young Professional Conference and the first-ever Oklahoma Aerospace Forum. I’ve been proud to take on the aerospace forum for the second year in a row as we work to bring together the aerospace industry to discuss important topics such as workforce. These conferences and many other projects have allowed me to take a seat at the table with some of Oklahoma’s top executives and elected officials.
I challenge all you college students and young professionals starting your career to set out with a couple of goals in mind such as “meet three new media reporters,” “receive my first promotion at one year” or “set bi-monthly meetings with my boss to discuss workload and responsibilities.” This will help keep you on track with reaching your milestones!
I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve been provided in my first two years in the communications industry and can’t wait for many more years of making moves!