Opportunities in Disguise

By: Erica Sturwold
UI PRSSA President

You need to jump.  No, you need to leap. Yes, leap, at any, and every, internship opening that presents itself on your path through college.  Experience, even if unrelated, uninteresting and unpaid, is still experience; even when a prospect seems to have very little to do with your desired field, it doesn’t mean it should be ruled out.

If your chosen path is in public relations and something like an opportunity to do design work for a university magazine may not seem to have much relevance, does that mean you turn it down? The answer is definitely, “no”.

In the past I’ve sold advertising for two different radio stations, and though I was apprehensive to be involved in sales (for fear I did not possess the skills to smooth-talk), I found the jobs were nothing short of confidence and character builders. Not to mention, they were actually more about listening, than speaking.  When I bring up these experiences in interviews, I find employers are pleasantly surprised with my willingness to work a job where rejection is around every corner and perseverance is key—this somehow has a way of proving my work ethic.

These types of experiences are the ones that set you apart, and, more importantly, mold you into your own brand. Though your past jobs and internships may not all have been for major marketing agencies and professional event planning firms, the other portion, made up of somewhat out-of-the-ordinary experiences, is a very important piece of your background—what makes you “well-rounded” and “cultured”.

Though I can gladly say I have now had two very multidimensional strategic-communication internships, I know I got there by my ability to be open for whatever comes my way. Before these, and aside from the radio stations, I have written for a magazine, done publication design work, organized and programmed an entire office’s files and recently wrote for and edited a summer newsletter.

One good thing to keep in mind is that while certain positions you pick up may not be exactly what you want to be doing now, they can lead you to something, or someone, who can take you where you want to go.

A simple trick I have learned to find new opportunities is to take the initiative to be friendlier with teachers, and more importantly, internship advisors.  These are the people who, if they know you, will set aside prospects they know you will be perfect for you when those prospects come along.

Aside from this, open every email, read every University posting and keep your eyes peeled for any job-opening posters in your class buildings—even if the extra work feels hard to squeeze in your schedule, it usually has a way of fitting itself in and paying off big time in the long run.

Maybe the chance to lead freshmen on tours around campus is what you consider to be a resume-filler, but, to right employer it could prove both your leadership abilities, and, your inclination to leap into any possible role.


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