Recently I was thinking about when I started my communications career. Officially, I can pin point it with my start at JHU and Fleishman Hillard in Washington, DC. Unofficially, I think it began even before I started to speak as a child… when I was trying to interpret and speak to our old talking car which would always uninterruptedly get stuck saying “Door is open”. And the door was NOT always open. Those were my first words: door is open-a. Maybe it wasn’t a career at that point, but it certainly felt like some fun work.
And for you in your career in communications, the doors will always be opening. Whether it’s into the next project at your job, or the next leap into another job, it is a field that is full off opportunity and that one that is changing day-by-day.
My crooked path
I transplanted from New England to DC in 2006. In 2007, I decided to conclude my short government consulting career with the Big Blue and pursue an internship with Fleishman Hillard’s growing digital communications group. I also, in true 20-something DC go-getter style, applied and began with JHU’s AAP program.
Yes, I left a full time, well paid position at a great, huge, best of the best company, to get paid an hourly rate that may not lead to a full time position at a PR agency. I had never taken a communication course in my life (I was a psychology major at a liberal arts school where communications courses don’t exist) and I barely knew what a blog was.
My interest in FH had come back in college when I had met a woman who worked in the Boston office who had inspired me to purse it as a career option. It seemed like a neat option given my interest in Psychology and things that I was good at: writing, organization, creative marketing, talking to people. I really had no idea what I was doing or getting into. The interest in JHU came after many conversations with a friend who was in the process and loving her pursuit for a Masters in Government and Business from JHU. She suggested that I apply and see if I could augment my internship with the program. I will always thank her for this as I know it put me forward in many ways.
The Marriage of School & Work
Going to school and working in parallel was hard. Most of you reading this probably know that. If you don’ t know it, I don’t say it to discourage you. I say it so to manage your expectations – just showering you with my client service as a friend! You’ll have 9 hour (maybe +) work days, followed by 2 hour classes followed by homework on the weekends.
You may need to temporarily kiss your social life goodbye, ask your significant others to be patient, and learn how to live on very little sleep. It’s all about balance. Just like most things. However, you will learn a lot by doing work and school in parallel.
The lessons that I took from work to JHU and back were practical, eye opening and unique and I don’t think I would have wanted to do it any other way. Except for all the times that I said I wanted to do it every other way!
It was 3 years (with FH & JHU) and 1.5 of FH after JHU of extremely difficult, satisfying, stressful, fun experiences full of lots of learning and lots of “I can’t do this anymore” to “Is this really my job?” – in a good way – to “Is this really by job” – in a bad way – to “What’s the point of a Masters?” to “I’m really glad I took that class” and more. And never a thought of looking back on my decisions.
With this background in place, I’ll be posting about a few specific experiences I had working within an agency environment – the ups, the middles, the downs – and how it allowed me to learn, grow and led me to where I am now.
Trust me when I say, the doors are always going to be opening-a!