It recently hit me how dramatically my life has changed in the past year that I’ve been blogging. In twelve months, I have graduated from college, moved from Florida to the Nation’s Capital, left my family, interned at a prestigious public affairs firm, landed my dream job, and interacted with brilliant people from around the world.
Almost all of these milestones are a direct result of this blog. That may sound exaggerated, but it’s not. Launching my blog has significantly influenced my life in many ways, especially in my professional career, but more importantly – blogging has made me more appreciative of everything I have achieved so far and more willing to help others reach their own milestones.
When it comes to professional development, I might be the poster child for how beneficial blogging can be to one’s career. Looking back at the recognition I have received in the past year because of my blog is very humbling. Since creating this blog, I have been offered numerous freelance writing opportunities and professors have asked me to speak to their students about blogging. As someone making the transition from college student to full-time professional, these experiences allowed me to develop skills necessary for a successful career in communications.
Last spring, I was awarded second place in the PRSSA/Edelman Outstanding Public Relations Student competition, and the nominating team mentioned that my blog showed how passionate I was about my education and the PR field. When my last semester of college was ending, I sought advice from bloggers who had re-located after college and, with their advice and encouragement, decided that leaving Florida to pursue my career in PR was the best decision for me to make. Then, I used my blog to develop a professional network on LinkedIn and Twitter, both of which earned me informational interviews at several prestigious PR agencies in Washington, D.C. Because of my blog, I landed a summer internship at one of the best public affairs firms in the country. There, my supervisors tapped me for insight into the digital space and pulled me into important client meetings I never dreamed I would attend as an intern. I met former congressional members and presidential press secretaries – and got paid for it!
After my internship ended, I needed to find a full-time job. I wanted to work at a forward-thinking company that understood social media. Connections I made and conversations I had through my blog and Twitter led me to my current position – my dream job – at a company that embodies those exact qualities.
Though these opportunities enhanced my resume and portfolio, they are not the reason why I love being a part of the blogosphere as much as I do.
Perhaps the most substantial impact blogging has had on my life has been helping me push aside my shyness so that I could talk to people with more ease and confidence. After receiving insightful comments on my posts from prominent professors and professionals, I felt my bashfulness gradually subside. With this newfound courage, I reached out to people I respected and admired; something I’ve never been comfortable doing in the past.
The hospitality and encouragement I received from my mentors blew me away. Blogging made it easier to connect and build friendships with intelligent people like Karen Russell, Robert French, Les Potter, Constantin Basturea, Paull Young, Melanie Seasons, and countless more. Their kindness showed me the importance of community and that building relationships is the foundation for everything, especially in PR and social media.
Considering all of the professional goals I have achieved in the past year, you might be asking why something like gaining courage has had the biggest impact on my life. Well, it’s the circular nature that resonates so well in the blogosphere. My blog gave me more confidence in my abilities as a writer and communicator, so I felt more confident reaching out to bloggers I admired, and when they were so open to helping me, I knew that I had to give back in some way, too. The blogosphere frequently reminds me how important the pay-it-forward mentality is: help and be helped, what goes around comes around, sharing is essential.
The communities I have gotten involved with through blogging made me realize how much I love helping people, especially college students and recent grads. Each week, I receive comments or e-mails from students saying my blog has helped them in some way, whether it’s encouraging them to start their own blogs or inspiring them to apply for awards that seem out of reach. These kind words are never taken for granted – in fact, they are often what keeps me going when I find myself frustrated with blogging (or even life in general).
Blogging has helped me achieve many of the goals I set for myself, and all of the wonderful things that have happened to me would not mean as much if I did not try to inspire other people as others motivated me during my rough times, life changes, and professional pursuits.
So how has blogging affected my life? It helped me come out of my shell so that I could somehow interact with industry geniuses, move to a big city by myself, land my dream job, and share these experiences with others who are going through the same things I did. For me, this blog is about developing confidence in my own voice so that I can help others in the same way others helped me. If being vocal online helps other people along the way, I’m more than happy to pretend that I am a gregarious extrovert who doesn’t even know what the word “shy” means.