a blog by Liz Johnston… just a 20-something PR girl trying to find her way

I know that I am good at what I do, but it sure is nice to hear it, too! Today, I had a meeting with my supervisor and was offered an extension on my internship, and of course, I said yes. So, it looks like my concerns of transitioning from student to professional won’t be so hard. It actually won’t be much of a transition at all. Ha! The only things that will be changing are my title -from “student intern” to simply “intern, ” and my pay-grade –  from nothing to something.

The department made the decision not to hire anyone on a salary basis for the vacant position. Instead they want to keep me on and their PR intern,  guaranteed through Q1. And while I will still be an intern, and a salary position is the ultimate goal for a college grad, I am ecstatic about this opportunity. The fact that they did not hire anyone, from the large stack of resumes I know they received, and are keeping me around instead, must be saying something.

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Office Turned Photo Shoot

Cameras and lights are flashing everywhere, people are running around and shoes are flying. And they expect me to get work done? Ha. This is all just too damn exciting. Today is actually day two of a three day shoot for one of our clients and it is taking over the office – lobby to roof. The office is filled with a buzz that I have yet to experience, but maybe that’s just all the models walking around. Regardless, the motive behind this post is to touch, yet again, on how awesome my internship is. I don’t know many offices where a phone call is interrupted by a model walking in, standing on a table and posing for high fashion photos.

And really, this is one of the reasons I love my internship. Not only do provide public relations services, but we also get into the creative, the design and the production of marketing materials for our clients. It just feels like we get so much more of the big picture. We’re not just making a PR plan, but a communications plan with PR, marketing, media buying and interactive design development.

Yesterday, I turned 23 and today I face the fact that in less than three weeks, I will be a college graduate. Wow-zers. I feel a little stunned, like this is what I have been waiting for, but that ‘what’ is still TBD. This post, like so many of mine, ponders the question of what it means to grow-up. And I do think that meaning is different for different people. My mom told me, “you’re never really, truly all grown-up until both your parents pass and you no longer have them to look to.” Ok, makes sense, but that doesn;t mean i will be a kid until then either. So what am I now? I’m in my 20s, arguably some of the hardest, most soul searching times of my life, and I have no idea where to begin. Is that wrong, no, but is that helpful, not at all.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the transition I will be making in a few weeks. I’ve written before about what an amazing program the PDXSX is and how it is the perfect transition from student to professional, but I’m still a student. In less than three weeks, I can no check the student box, buy student movie tickets or get student discounts on just about everything. I’m losing the label that has defined me for more than 16 years. Not bad, not good, just different.

And I guess that is what growing-up is. It’s different. Every birthday we blow out one more candle on our cake, but nothing really changes. I still get Disney princess gifts and cars that fold into a crown, I’m just an adult now, not a kid.

Monotony is bound to happen. There is no way, that I know, to avoid it. You can, however, work with it. Monotony, I have found, is the silent challenge in the transition from college student to professional. In college, most classes are an every-other-day thing and routines and schedules change on a daily basis. In an office, not so much. True, some days may be filled with meetings or agendas, but as an intern, not so much. I sit at my computer.

And I sit at my computer.

And I sit at my computer.

Now, that’s not to say that they aren’t exciting moments, there are. I have blogged about quite a few. But let’s be real (and I always try to be) – most of my day is spent looking at a computer screen, reading, typing and researching. But I have discovered the key to avoiding those dragging moments when you think, “I can’t believe this is what my life will be like, every single day.”

Guess what? No it won’t. I found that by reminding myself that I am the intern, bottom of the totem-pole, and at times invisible figure in the office, I remember that I have to work my way up to the dream. This is just the beginning. Holy shit, and please excuse my language, but I am only 22-years-old and this is only the beginning.

What has made this intern experience so interesting is the unique life intersection I am at:  real-world grown-up working in the PRo life vs. broke ass college student living off frozen burritos. If only you could walk a day in my shoes…

Now, throw into that mix one part new-girl-in-a-big-city and one part deer-in-the-headlights and you just might understand where I’m coming from. So when I’m told to just grab the AMEX card like it’s no bid deal, you can only imagine the shock, excitement and confusion I felt. Are these people really trusting me with this card. And it’s not like they have any reason not to, but jeez, its an AMEX card for crying out loud. So much credit card power!

Then the fear sets in and the paranoid, checking-my-wallet-every-two-seconds habit begins.

Looking back on it now, it’s just another reason why I feel so lucky to be a part of the PDXSX program. I’m not just another intern here. I truly am a part of the team – for what little time I have left.

The Dark Days Have Begun

This is only one of the many, many reason I love working at my internship. Not only do I get to wear jeans everyday, but this office is such a relaxed atmosphere that come Friday at 4pm the all-office page goes off and it is officially announced that “the dark days have arrived. Everyone on the Star Wars conference room for Friday flip cup.”

And they weren’t kidding. Red cups and a case of Papst is all this office need to wind down on a dark, Friday afternoon. 

I was a little apprehensive at first, being the intern and all, but then I thought, “this is a perfect time to get out of my corner. Time to remind people that I am here and I am awesome.”

So much of our lives is dedicated to finding our profession, the one thing that we love enough to do until, what seems like, eternity. However, it is just as important to find the right work environment – one that you fit into. I feel like I fit in with my office and coworkers, now it’s just a matter of them deciding they like me.

 

You Got To Be Bold

I recently asked my supervisor, “What do you see as being the most important trait for someone to have in this position?” Her response: “In this agency, creativity.”  This exchange was followed by a conversation about a person’s willingness to be bold.

It’s hard, especially for an intern, to feel comfortable enough to truly be bold. And what I mean by “truly bold” is the attitude and conviction to try something new, without reservations, and be prepared for the outcome – good or bad. That’s not to say that one should just do what they please, regardless of any forethought, rather, it is to be confident in your abilities to handle any situation that might arise from your decision.

Years ago, my mom put it quite simply, saying, “You do what you need to do now to make you happy, and deal with the rest when it comes along. You can’t predict the future, you can only face the now.” My mother said this to me when I was trying to make the life-changing decision about college, but I think it holds true for most things in life.

Be bold. Have the conviction to take a chance, take a risk, and have the confidence that you are prepared to handle anything that may happen next.