A big thank you to alumnae Jamie Chaplin for this guest post from about how her UCM degree helped in that all important first job search and those first few months on the job.
by Jamie Chaplin
I thought graduation would never show up.
Not because I had a bad college experience, but because I actually couldn’t imagine it. I couldn’t (and still can’t) wrap my mind around not being a “student.” But it happened. I somehow made it through the press conferences, the news releases, the presentations, the papers and the client projects. Dr. Ambrose shook my hand and that was that — I graduated.
Fast-forward three months. I’m working at a content syndicate and publishing company in downtown Kansas City. If your eyebrow turned up, stick with me.
Andrews McMeel Universal is an umbrella company over a handful of other companies or brands. I assist with digital marketing for Andrews McMeel Publishing, — the publishing brand, and GoComics — an online catalog of syndicated newspaper strips and web comics. There aren’t words to say how wonderful this place is. It’s full of people who LOVE their jobs, and bursts of talent I can only dream of having. AMU doors seep creativity and passion.
So, how did I make it to a desk at AMU?
Honest answer: I don’t remember applying for it. But we’ll get to that.
My first few weeks here, I realized I don’t know a lot of things. Surprise, right? I’m a college grad, and I don’t know everything. But epiphany number two? The PR program at UCM is solid. While I probably looked like a deer staring blankly into headlights, I felt I had some things down quickly as a product of my college education. While this shouldn’t have been surprising, I was used to the “we’ll never use this information” mentality, which is honestly just an excuse students (I) use to not try as hard in class.
I quickly recognized the value of good professors, class objectives (the parts no one reads in the syllabus!) and fully diving into your classwork. Taking advantage of the assignments, experienced professors and working with my peers backed me through the job search more than anything else. I had quality material to put on my resume and in my portfolio. It was real work —not just papers about ideas or theories.
Other programs are great, sure — but I can’t be more thankful that I chose public relations. Not only are the classes built to set you for success, but the opportunities such as PRSSA, IPR and more can prepare students for life after homework. I’m excited to see how much more it grows in the coming years.
OK — back to how I got my first paying job after graduation. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. I’m not an incredibly over dramatic person, so I mean it. Applying to over 50 jobs was tedious and exhausting. Moreover was the frustration I felt by the companies I interviewed with that did NOT reach back out after the interview. Isn’t that what an HR department is for?!
I also was pressured to find a job quickly as my soon-to-be husband was starting grad school in the fall and would only hold a part-time job. The application process started in March and ended a couple days before graduation. There were lots of tears amidst the 50+ applications, phone calls, interviews and rejections.
So again, I don’t remember applying to my job. After the interview invite, I had to thoroughly research where and what exactly I had applied for. I almost didn’t go to the interview because I thought I had nailed an interview I had a couple hours before. HA!
I took a writing test, accepted the position and started the week after graduation. Now three months in, I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be. A place like AMU had never even come close to being on my radar, but it’s a fit. Reading comics every day is just an added bonus.