Thoughts from an Associate
by: Stephanie Czajkowski
Taking a look back and revisiting my mindset at each different stage of this summer has helped me realize some things about my experience, the things I’ve learned and the decisions I’ve made.
I went into this summer semester with a completely different idea of what it would be like. I came to Nashville for one thing and ended up doing two things other than my initial intention. The period of transition was one of confused cluelessness. I was suddenly in a new city with no idea what to do with myself, but wanting desperately not to waste a time as precious as summer. Instead of calling it quits, I searched the Internet for any opportunity that seemed to have potential; that’s when I found Kia and The MEPR Agency.
Though I assumed it was too late in the summer to successfully find anything, I emailed Kia anyway and filled out the intern application on the website. Surprised, I received an email sometime later asking for a phone interview. Lesson one; there are opportunities everywhere, you just have to seek them out and be proactive.
The Associate Program being my first experience of PR outside of school, it was a tough transition. Suddenly everything about PR I thought was concrete was now situational. I realized everything I learned up to that point was, for the most part, an example of how PR could work, not how it does work. Lesson two; go into every situation with an open mind, ready to adjust to changes and make no assumptions.
Making assumptions and failing to ask questions when in doubt was something I struggled with the most. Thankfully, encouraging and answering questions was something I really appreciated about Kia and made the program different than many others. That being said, future MEPR Associates, ASK QUESTIONS.
Another tip for future associates, as you go through assignments and tasks for the first time, create a list of questions and comments of things you do not understand. Once you have gone through everything, spend a few minutes trying to find the answers yourself, you may realize some to be surprisingly silly once you take the time to find the answer. For those that remain unanswered, the obvious next step is to go ahead and ask. Finding an answer on your own, however, is rewarding and creates a problem solving instinct instead of just giving up.
Be sure to thoroughly research and understand the clients for which you play a part with. Doing this beforehand will make future assignments much easier to understand and will surely prevent mistakes. This process is not like studying for a test and having the answers in a given textbook or set of notes, which is how I treated it initially. It is important to search out as much information as possible, connect the dots, and create a well-rounded understanding.
What I enjoyed most about the Associate Program was how determined Kia was to make sure I was learning. Not that I like getting told time and again that I am doing things incorrectly, but as long as I am learning through the process it is worth it. Almost every new job or experience is going to have that initial time period that is full of mistakes and discomfort, but the feeling of success and achievement once you get passed that is so rewarding. I am ending the program with much more encouragement for the next time I find myself starting a new job feeling those same things that I did at the beginning of this experience.