Getting a running start

Catie Cannon is a senior at Westminster Academy in Memphis. After being accepted into the College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin, Catie spent a day at Obsidian PR shadowing our team in action. Here’s a quick glance at some of what she learned.

So you’re almost done with high school. Graduation is quickly approaching, and you are ready for the roller-coaster ride that is college. You’re ready to be on your own and only go to class when you want to.

Pause. Let’s think about what college is really about. Besides all the independence, the parties and the friends, college is a stepping stone for the rest of your life. College is the time you figure out what you are going to do with the rest of your life, and you begin the steps to achieve it. I learned a valuable lesson from the day I spent at Obsidian: the best way to figure out if you enjoy doing something is to actually do it.

So what does this mean? Internships, shadowing, professional mentors − anything to get you in the environment you think you want to work in. Some of these internships will be unpaid. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile. Show enough effort, enthusiasm and initiative, and you could land yourself a “real job.” I personally had no idea what a PR agency did much less what it was like to work in one until the day I visited Obsidian. The common advice I received from everyone in the office was that I could not learn what agency life was like inside a classroom.

So while your friends are waiting tables or scraping up babysitting money to spend on spring break, you can be getting ahead of the game and learning about your field of study in the real world. Don’t just take any internship, however. Actually interview your possible employer and be sure they expect you to gain valuable hands-on experience and knowledge. A coffee run type of internship just isn’t worth it. But do be prepared to do some grunt work (at least a little) because you never know when that tough summer internship could turn into the best job you ever had.