I Aimed High, and So Should You

Let me give you some advice: apply for that job you think you aren’t qualified for, or submit your entry to win an award you think will probably go to someone else. You never know when the people selecting the winners will think that YOU are the perfect candidate.

Last fall, I was browsing the PRSSA Web site for scholarships and internships that I could apply for when I stumbled across the Daniel J. Edelman Award for the Outstanding Public Relations Student. I read over the qualifications, and thought it seemed out of my league. After researching past winners, I saw that almost all of them were presidents or vice presidents of their own chapters with impressive resumes that made mine look weak in comparison. Defeated, I clicked off that page to look for other awards that I might have a chance to win.

A couple of days later, I returned to the site. I thought– why not? What did I have to lose by submitting an entry? I respected the Edelman agency, and wanted to learn more about its culture, clients, and past work.

Once I sent out my entry, I thought that was it. I honestly wasn’t expecting to hear anything, and took the experience as an opportunity to learn how to piece together a portfolio.

I am very honored to say that I was wrong. In January, I received a phone call from Heather Crowley at Edelman informing me that I was a finalist in the competition. Only the friends who were with me that night can truly understand the shock, amazement, and joy that I felt upon receiving that call. It was an exhilarating moment that made me appreciate all the work I had put into my PR education.

From then, it only got better. I had a phone interview with Heather that went beyond discussing my qualifications for the award because Heather was so open to questions I had about Edelman and the public relations industry in general. Our forty-five minute conversation was one of the most informative and interesting talks I’ve shared with a professional, and that was reason enough to be happy that I applied for the award that I never thought I had a chance at winning.

A week later, Heather called and told me some great news: I was the runner-up in the competition, which meant I had won $500 and the chance to interview at any of Edelman’s offices for an internship position.

Just recently, Edelman posted a press release about the competition. It’s surreal and very humbling that an agency I have admired for some time saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself.

I can’t believe I almost passed up this opportunity when I thought about not applying back in December. I shared this story not to brag, but to encourage other students to aim high. I know a lot of my peers talk about not being qualified for certain positions they want, or not having the experience or achievements to apply for an award, but everyone feels that way. Half the battle is placing yourself in a position to succeed, and you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t try!

19 thoughts on “I Aimed High, and So Should You

  1. Again, I completely agree. We often sell ourselves short. College students, in general, are capable of the most astounding things with the right mix of confidence and courage to take risks.

    What I always tell our PRSSA members applies here as well; many of these spectacular award and internship opportunities have very low application rates because of the hesitation you described above. I remember sitting in the PRSSA National Assembly hearing that only 6 people out of 9,000 members applied for a $1,000 scholarship! Those are some dramatic odds in favor of the applicants. It’s always worth it, simply for the experience if nothing else.

    Congratulations on the award and I hope that you always keep your drive and enthusiasm!

  2. Hi Theresa,

    Thanks for the comment! Everything you said is very true, and it’s just a matter of telling students enough success stories so that they get out there and apply for scholarships, awards, internships, and jobs!

  3. Hi Meg —

    Congratulations! Good on you for seeing this one through. You’re so right… you have to sieze every opportunity that presents itself, and your story is proof that good things CAN happen when you do.

    So… what office and practice are you going to interview with? I’m a little biased, but with your obvious blog savvy and initiative, I’d love to see you in Digital.

    Ping me at rick.murray@edelman.com anytime.

    Cheers,

    Rick

  4. Meg,

    This is fantastic. I’m sure it’s well deserved. Congratulations!

    Thank you for sending a great message out as so many PR students are approaching graduation, searching for jobs and internships. We shouldn’t sell ourselves short. You’ll never know if you don’t try, right?

    Where to do plan to interview? Best of luck! Be sure to let us know how it turns out.

    Lizzie

  5. Thank you for all the congrats, everyone! It means a lot, and I hope you share this idea with all your students and friends. I know the field is already competitive, but that’s what makes it great– I love being surrounded by brilliant people, and I think more should be confident enough in their abilities to apply for whatever it is they want. I know I wasn’t before, and I don’t want anyone else to think they aren’t good enough.

  6. That is really great! Congratulations!

    I agree with aiming high. I applied for a rather intense, yet amazing internship opportunity not thinking I would make it pass the first interview; and now I am the first of three alternates with a great possibility of being in DC this summer.

    A little will and determination can go a long way!

  7. Just remember this: When you apply for a job outside your experience, the only question that matters to the hiring manager is this: “Are you going to be able to learn enough about doing the job soon enough not to make me and the company regret hiring you?”

    Another thing: If you are going into a highly technical field, be prepared for the technical interview by senior personnel, who will grill you like a chunk of London Broil. If you don’t have the knowledge and expertise to gain their respect, it’s going to be the job from hell. Be honest, and you might stand a decent chance. If you try to “wing it” or cover your lack of knowledge with buzzwords, they’ll all stand up, shake your hand, and say they’ll be in contact with you later. Then they will firmly close the door.

  8. Well let me begin by saying that I am very new to all of this! I recently say you in Prof. Batchelor’s class, and you inspired me to begin my own blog. And by reading you blog I come to realize that Prof. Batchelor is correct. You are an amazing writer and your blogs are great.
    Let me congratulate you on your success and also let me thank you for inspiring me.
    -Viviana

  9. I’m honored to be the person around who got to watch that shock, amazement, and joy felt upon receiving that call… Great dinner, great night, great accomplishment!

    Congrats Meg!

  10. Congratulations! I just learned about your blog from your recent contribution to PR Open Mic’s discussion about Gina’s PR blacklist. Your blog is excellent, and I was thrilled to learn that you received this award. I just started subscribed to your blog, and I look forward to following your adventures. Way to go!

  11. Pingback: Tips from the Pros: Holistic Blogging Strategy

  12. Pingback: A Reflection: How Blogging Affected My Life | Staying On Track

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