Where do you work and what is your position?
I work for The Dow Chemical Company as a Communication Specialist for the Global Commercial Support team, as well as the North America United Way Co-Campaign Leader and the Michigan State University Recruiter for our Public Affairs function. I have been with Dow for four years and have held a few different positions in our Public Affairs function already.
Every day is different in the corporate office, which is definitely something I love. Mainly my day consists of packaging up strategic communications to our internal audience, planning events for our sales and marketing team and working with our global commercial support team to help communicate effectively to their stakeholders.
When did you know what you wanted to do?
I always knew I wanted to do something with writing and communications. Throughout high school and part of college, I knew for sure that I wanted to become a broadcaster or work in community relations for the Denver Broncos. Over time, I received an internship in communications at a corporate company in Lansing, Michigan, and it changed my whole perspective of the opportunities in a corporate office, and I knew this was what I wanted to do long term. So after that long winded answer, it was my junior year of college that I found my niche for corporate communications.
How did you know what you wanted to do?
Through experience is the simplest way to answer that question. I knew what I liked and didn’t like, but my ‘likes’ were still very broad. I spent a lot of time job shadowing careers I thought I would be interested in and asking a lot of questions. I eventually narrowed it down to areas of focus, and I started to get internships in those areas. I continued to learn what I wanted to do. There are so many opportunities out there and finding your passion is huge. When your passion is combined with the type of career you are going into, that’s when you know. For me, when I took the corporate communications role as an intern, I was able to combine my love for writing, event planning, networking, working with non-profits and having a seat at the table to create positive change. When I got excited to go to work and put the extra hours into my internship, I knew that is what I wanted to do long term.
Were you looking only for specifically this job? What made you pick it?
In the beginning of college my answer would have been that I would have applied to only sports jobs, but after much experience in different types of internships in communications from sports, nonprofit, medical and then corporate, I started to aim only to searching for jobs surrounding my passions, which included writing, philanthropy work and strategic thinking. I started to find companies and jobs that fit with my passions, and Dow was the one company that I felt a strong interest in. I definitely kept my options opening applying for corporate communication roles and public relation jobs in the sports industry.
Where did you go to school and what degree did you graduate with?
I graduated from Michigan State University (Go Green!) with a bachelor’s degree in communication and a specialization (minor) in Public Relations.
Were there specific classes you needed for your job?
The classes that helped me the most were the ones directly specific to Public Relations because they were based on writing and speaking. However, most of the things I learned from college to help in my career were my internships, jobs and joining organizations. I benefitted a ton from those areas.
Do you need a specific major?
I did need a specific major for my career. Communications however is very broad but the skills I learned from this degree have helped me in my career and also qualified me.
How did you get your job?
I got my job by making connections, putting myself out there, having the right experiences through internships and working hard.
What were the biggest surprises in your job – both good and bad?
The biggest surprise in the beginning was how overwhelmed I would be. You are learning a new company and a new job, and the hand holding from an internship isn’t there. You come in as the expert in that position, and you have to work extra hard to be up to speed. Choosing this career also meant not having the typical 9-5 job and learning time management more than I even did in college. The best surprise though was the opportunities I have in my career and the experiences I have received. We work hard but we play hard too.
What advice do you have for others pursuing a career in this field?
Roll up your sleeves and get to work. In Public Relations, you do a lot of ‘cool’ stuff and get to go or put on some top notch events. However some people only see that glamour of what PR is, but they don’t see how behind the scene of the hours put in to make sure everything goes as smooth as possible and all the pieces of the puzzle fit the day of event. Another piece of advice would be to understand you are in charge of your career, your own work ethic and success. Stay true to yourself and make things happen.
What is your advice for preparing for an interview in this field?
Practice. Practice. Practice. As a recruiter for my company, one of the biggest challenges I see is people being unprepared. Dress professional, bring your resume, research the company beforehand, be prepared for standard interview questions and show off your personality. It truly shows within the first five minutes of your interview how much you have prepared, if you truly want this job and if you would be a good fit. Be yourself and show your personality. The company that fits with who you are will see it.
Do you remember what you wore to your first interview?
I could never forget what I wore to my first interview. I wore my first black suit I ever owned with a white collar shirt under it, black heels and a simple cross necklace.
What do you wear every day to work?
Well since I live in Michigan, the everyday clothes change depending on what the weather is like, but mostly every day I wear a dress or skirt. Every day I wear a pair of heels and a blazer if needed and jewelry. If it is really cold out, I find myself in black or gray pants and a long sleeve dress shirt. My essentials are definitely heels, my jewelry and a dressy outfit.
Check out how we styled Lisa’s look [here]