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!