It’s that time of the year again- caps and gowns are dawned, pictures are taken, and congratulations are given and received. College graduation is an exciting milestone, but it is often one without direction. Up until this point, your life has been paved for you. School is structured- filled with requirements, boxes to check and peers to measure yourself against. And suddenly- this neatly paved path becomes a vast unknown.
Our team here at Sinclair PA gets this because we were just in your shoes. Our current staff is unique in that it is made up of mostly recent college grads- communication students turned professionals. We have maneuvered the field, faced all the hard questions and have come out of the post-college void safe and successful- and are here to impart the wisdom that got us here (and to hopefully ease some nervous minds.)
Sarah – Account Director
On Saturday, May 14 2022, I graduated from Meredith College with my Bachelor of Art’s in Political Science. If you know me, you probably know I will be the first person to tell you your strengths, but the last to tell you my own. Quite ironic that I’ve spent the last three years of my life at a college that prides itself in teaching its students to recognize and embrace their strengths. Reaching this bittersweet milestone has left me reflective and eager to share a few lessons I have learned over the course of my three years in college.
Being strong doesn’t mean you can’t admit weakness. Always ask for help, tell people how you’re feeling (even if it’s not ok). It is in the weakest moments where we truly find our strength- without them we would be nowhere.
It’s ok to stray from the plan. Take risks, be bold and be always be confident in yourself.
Always say hello. You never know who you might meet along the way, and how much of an impact they can have on your journey.
If you had told me 3 years ago that I would be graduating college, and starting a full-time job within the public affairs industry, I would have told you that you were mistaken. But, because of those great people I have met along the way (chances are if you’re reading this you are probably one of them), I’ve taken risks, made many changes to my plan along the way, and have found strength in myself in some of the most unanticipated places. I am happy to share that after graduation I will join my second family, Sinclair Public Affairs as a Public Affairs Account Executive ready to do what I have come to love- affect change. As I walk across the stage to convene my undergrad journey, I walk away not only grateful for the past 3 years but, excited for all the relationships and opportunities the future has in store.
Kaitlin- Public Relations Account Executive
Graduation is such an unexpected experience. We spend years of our lives working towards one singular thing. Countless hours of sitting in class, and studying and testing. All of it leads to one moment, and then, with the turn of a tassel, it’s over. You’re mailed a piece of paper and sent on your way, a journey into the real world with no real clue how you got there, or what you’re supposed to be working towards now.
Now, exactly one year from my metaphorical walk (thank you, COVID) across the stage, I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter how much planning you do, leaving college is always going to be a culture shock. Whether you’re headed straight to a big company in the city, or taking time after school to figure everything out, there will be many moments when you stop and ask yourself “What am I doing here?” You will feel lost, and you will unsure and you will question every decision you make.
And, guess what?
When you’re working towards a college degree, every step is laid out for you. You may not always know where you want to go to school or what you want to study, but the end goal is there. When you leave college, there’s a big gap of uncertainty in your life, and as scary as it feels, it should be exciting. That empty spot isn’t a void, it’s an opening for something new. It’s a space for you to learn and figure out.
My biggest advice for the post-graduation world is to accept feeling uncertain or uncomfortable. If you don’t, you’ll spend too much time focusing on how to get back something that’s gone and miss all of the opportunities in front of you. I spent a good amount of time post-grad feeling like I was behind because I decided to take a few months off before I started my job search. It was a scary feeling, and it was hard to not feel like I was wasting my time or even giving up on a life that I spent so long working for. In the end though, everything is always going to work out that way for a reason. That doesn’t mean you don’t have control over where you end up or that you don’t have to work hard to make it happen, but learning to trust yourself in that is one of the most important skills you have to learn in the post-grad world when there’s no longer a clear-cut path in front of you. Looking back, sitting in that uncertainty was a positive for me. Not only did I test my ability to trust myself, but I ended up exactly where I needed to be, at Sinclair PA.
Kailey – Account Director
Change, maneuvering the unknown and making decisions were not my strong suit in college. This made my impending college graduation extra daunting, as I wasn’t sure where I would end up, what exactly I wanted to pursue, or if I was even on the right career path.
Luckily, as the inevitable was inching closer, I stumbled across an open communications internship position at Sinclair PA- posted by none other than Ure Loop, an old college friend of mine. For once, the job description was right up my alley- emphasizing writing and design skills, with a chance to pursue my newfound interest in the crisis communications realm. I applied, got the position, and felt the stars align for me as I joined the team full time upon my graduation from Appalachian State.
Despite the hardships of starting an industry position during the beginnings of COVID-19, while simultaneously finishing my degree from my kitchen table, I learned more about myself and my work ethic than ever before.
My unique entry into the communications field taught me three invaluable lessons. Lessons that I often heard throughout my college career, but never really took to heart. They are as follows:
- Networking is everything. Although I was completely qualified, I never would have stumbled across this position had I not known Ure. I was able to contact her with questions about the position without reservation, and she was able to vouch for my character and work ethic when it came down to the decision process. My portfolio and application project ultimately got me the job, but my existing connections opened this door for me. Don’t be afraid to befriend those in your program, build connections with your professors, or reach out to those in your aspiring industry- they just might be the reason you land your dream job.
- Industry experience is key. For me, my one year of hands-on, real world experience taught me more about the communications industry than four years and a degree. Even if your program doesn’t require an internship to graduate, I highly recommend doing one anyway. It’s important to have an idea of the kind of work environment you prefer and deserve, especially coming in as an entry level employee. Not only will you learn about your job, but how to communicate with your colleagues and advocate for yourself professionally.
- Live. And lastly, prioritize a healthy work life balance. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that people should work to live, not live to work. Invest in your mental and physical health through hobbies, down time, and life outside of your 9-5.
Ure – Director of Digital
If you are anything like I was in college, when I started my first job after undergrad I had more free time than I had ever had. In high school I had practice, work and homework after school, and in college I was incredibly involved on campus and worked three jobs. I had absolutely no idea what to do with my evenings and weekends when I first started a regular 9-5. I thought I spent all my time in college figuring out what I was passionate about but I soon realized that work and other obligations weren’t necessarily “hobbies”.
My advice to anybody just starting out at their first job, is to intentionally set aside some time to get to know yourself when you’re not busy. I have discovered my passion for reading, yoga, hiking and podcasting- all things I thought I would never have time to do. I have a travel bucket list (coming from a girl who spent every spring break since she was 16 working) and realizing what goals I had in life that weren’t necessarily career-related. I spent so much time focusing on where I wanted to end up after college, I never thought about what I could be doing right now. I love my job- but it’s not the only thing in my life anymore, like school always was. The best piece of advice I was given was,
“Your life isn’t just what happens 9-5 Monday through Friday.”