My Internship to Employment Success Story:
I learned about my Waggener Edstrom (WE) public relations internship by attending the Gonzaga Portland Trek. That’s where I met a Gonzaga alum and learned more about the WE opportunity. Since I previously had internships at both the Department of State and BHW1, I was well-prepared for the WE interview and hiring process, and knew P.R. or advertising would be the route I wanted to take. This internship, unlike previous ones, was paid and also had a chance for employment at the end. To make the deal sweeter, it was in my hometown of Portland and I could stay with parents to save money. Following the internship, I was offered and accepted a full-time position as an account coordinator.
Well, how did it all fall into place so quickly? Part of it was luck, but I also did a lot of work to prepare during my time in college. First off, I took advantage of opportunities at Gonzaga (personality tests, mentorship advice, the Gonzaga Trek, taking classes outside my major, etc.), and found out my strengths/weaknesses early on, which allowed me to pursue opportunities that fit my interests. One major contributor that helped me identify and define my strengths was the Gonzaga Comprehensive Leadership Program (CLP). It is a successful program that offers a lot of personal introspection and leadership positions.
The motivation for discovering my “career preferences” happened when I realized I would be spending 40 (or more) hours a week in a job. If I hated the job, I knew I would not have a chance in succeeding and I also knew I couldn’t “drop it” like I could a class. After finding some preferences of mine (I liked to write, read and understand news), I took a chance with some internships based on my interests and they paid off.
My Advice for Current & Future Zags:
I have a couple tidbits of advice for Zags that helped me in my career search.
1.) Don’t get caught up in the short-term. College will not define your life. Most of us will live until 70 or longer, so 4 years (spent in college)/70= 5.71%. If you look at it from a numbers perspective, college is less than 6% of your total life!
2.) Look at what you enjoy doing and ask yourself the hard-questions early on to find opportunities that fit. Here are a couple questions to get started: Are you introverted or extroverted? Where do you want to live? How much does money/prestige matter to you? What do you like doing in your spare time? How driven are you? What kind of culture would you like working in (fast-paced, slow, stressful, etc.)?
3.) Live it up in college, but don’t forget why you are there. This isn’t your parents’ college anymore, where you can graduate with an art degree and get a job in banking. Increasingly, in this economy, jobs are scarce. Employers expect you to know what you want to do because if you don’t, they can find others that do. So have fun, but do not keep your eye off the ball, and use your time to find your strengths.
4.) Expand your professional online presence. Employers are increasingly looking online for background on potential candidates. To make sure they see all the positive things you have done, create a LinkedIn, weebly or about.me site. If you have any materials published online, try to link them to your accounts and show off your work. Better yet, use some of those business “case studies” you did in class and upload them online to your personal sites.
Waggener Edstrom, Account Coordinator - Portland, OR
Class of 2013 - B.B.A. in Marketing