K-State graduation year: December 2007
Degree: BS in agricultural communications and journalism; BS in animal science
Other degree received: (in progress) Master's in Public Affairs, nonprofit management, Park University, December 2010
Current employer: Nicholson Kovac
Position: Public relations account executive
How many times did you change your major during college?
Describe the process of choosing your major:
Through my involvement in the National FFA Organization in high school, I first wanted to be a congressional lobbyist for an agricultural company and promote issues I believed in. However, I wasn’t sure if life in DC was for me. While still in high school I started thinking about other options, like working for a breed association, such as the American Hereford Association, and working as a public relations professional. I had the same major throughout college.
What activities/organizations were you involved in while in college?
College of Agriculture Ambassadors
Alpha Zeta agricultural honorary
Agriculture Future of America
Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow
Kappa Alpha Theta sorority
Order of Omega Greek honorary
Did you complete an internship or have related work experience prior to receiving your job?
I had three internships during my college career: communications intern at the American Hereford Association, public relations intern at Certified Angus Beef, and communications intern at Agriculture Future of America.
The internships I completed allowed me to see that breed association work had very few openings, and that it wasn’t what I wanted to do full-time. I worked for a nonprofit organization in youth development and LOVED the work I did for them. I did public relations and development with corporate partners. I also studied abroad in Scotland in the summer of 2006.
Describe the process of finding your first job:
Honestly, my first job fell into my lap. I started searching for full-time positions around the time I started my last internship with AFA. I didn't find employment until a local marketing position opened up in in the town where I lived. I had that job for a month, and then I was laid off. I didn't find employment again for seven months, even though I searched virtually everywhere. I was then offered a position as the annual funds and marketing manager for a community food bank, which is what I technically consider my first true job out of college. I found it through the local newspaper ad and simply applied for it.
Briefly describe a typical day at your job:
I have recently taken a position at Nicholson Kovac as a public relations account executive. I work on several large agricultural marketing and public relations accounts. My main job is to help integrate marketing and pr efforts for companies into the hands of our constituents, whether that is a sales force, media, potential consumers or the general public.
Prior to my current job, I was the annual funds and marketing manager for a community food bank. My typical day was spent responding to media inquiries, working on marketing and special event campaigns, overseeing production of print and marketing materials, updating our website, and writing various news releases and feature articles.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love my new job! At Nicholson Kovac, I am basically doing what I always dreamed of doing and what I majored in at K-State!
At the food bank I enjoyed my job 100 percent as well. I was able to work on all sorts of creative projects. I also had the freedom to do a lot of what I wanted to do and had creative control over all marketing materials.
When you have a creative mind, you can make a lot of things happen with your ideas when you work for a small organization. I enjoyed that the most.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
I am still learning about my new job, but the most challenging aspect of my position with the food bank was working under a strict budget, which is very characteristic of the nonprofit sector. I had to be creative and use every resource to its fullest. Also, being the only person working on marketing made it a challenge to get everything done.
In terms of the type of work I did, overcoming public stereotypes about the career field was very challenging.Sometimes it was difficult to get the message across that the vast majority of the time people who go hungry don’t live on welfare, spend all their money on drugs, and beg for takeouts. So it was hard to communicate to donors and community members that our organization served lots of hardworking individuals who had come upon hard times.
What advice would you give someone interested in your field?
Being willing to step outside your comfort zone is a must. Part of my job at the food bank involved being on camera or on the radio, even though I never wanted that. I was the spokesperson for our food bank; therefore, I was at every event, every media request, etc. You have to learn to take on multiple tasks all at once for that kind of job. I wore many hats, but that is what kept my job interesting and challenging.