By: Megan Lantz
On Wednesday November 15th, the Penn State PRSSA chapter had the extraordinary opportunity to invite Elizabeth Greenway of Short and Sweet Communications to speak to the chapter’s members. Elizabeth presented a slideshow entitled “15 Life Lessons from a Fellow PR Girl” where she shared her knowledge and experiences she’s gained from being a member of the working world, horrible bosses, good and bad jobs she’s undergone, and how she got to where she now stands. Listed throughout this blog post are the 15 Life Lessons Elizabeth blessed the PRSSA members with.
- “Grades aren’t everything. But they are important.”
Elizabeth began her presentation with this quote, discussing her experience with one professor during her undergraduate years at Susquehanna University. The professor told her that he would rather higher a B average student who is involved on campus with different clubs and activities, over an A average student who has no involvement outside of classes. This allowed me, and other PRSSA members, to put into perspective that we don’t need to only focus on grades, other things are important in developing our path for our future besides grades. We may gain more hands-on experience, and learn different skills through clubs and extracurricular activities which can benefit our careers in the future.
- “Dreams are never too big to chase. What do you have to lose?”
With this quote, Elizabeth shared that she had always been a dreamer, but one day she just decided to go for a dream in which she thought she’d never achieve. She applied to be a White House Intern, and got the job. This allowed me to realize to never just tell myself “oh I shouldn’t even apply there’s no chance I’ll get it” because there’s always a chance if you put in the effort, you may be surprised with the outcome.
- “Sometimes it takes hard work to get where you want to go.”
For this tip, Elizabeth shared more about her experience interning at the White House. She stated that most interns there had connections to senators, or were very wealthy and had paid apartments to stay in during their internships. However, Elizabeth had no connections to senators and her parents could not afford an apartment in DC for her. Elizabeth stayed in DC through her university’s DC program, where she was required to take on a full course load and attend night classes every day after her internship at the White House. Her internship was all day during the week, and she had classes every night during the week after her internship. She shared the struggle that occurred on often occasions where the White House held her late for her internship, therefore she would be late to her classes, but her tardiness was not excused even though it was caused by her internship. Throughout her internship she was sick, tired, and stressed out on many occasions, yet she persevered because she knew that having that experience on her resume would significantly benefit her ability to find jobs in the future, and provide her with many skills some other internships might not be able to.
- “You are going to have a job you dislike someday. Stick it out.”
You’re going to have jobs you dislike and jobs you hate, said Elizabeth, but it’s important to figure out the difference between dislike and hate. “Sometimes you’re going to dislike a job, but you have to stick it out. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies.” Life’s tough, and certainly not fair, but it’s important to persevere and continue with a job you may dislike, because you could be learning a lot more from the job than you think you are.
- “You may lose your job. You’ll survive it.”
Elizabeth shared her experience with being laid off in one position that she was in, and she shared that if you’re ever laid off, you’ll feel like your world is ending, but it’s not. There are always other jobs out there, and other ways to get involved during the job search, the important thing is to not give up and to keep searching.
- “Jobless doesn’t have to mean no experience – get involved.”
Elizabeth shared how she survived her time after being laid off, and how she kept her resume thriving without it developing a hole. While undergoing the job search and month long interview processes, she worked as a legal secretary. It’s important to have something on your resume to signify that you kept working while looking for jobs related to your field. She also significantly stressed getting involved, especially in PRSA. Not only will this keep you busy during your job search, but it’ll allow you to make new connections and gain new skills by being surrounded by those in the same field as you, along with possibilities for leadership roles and moving up the ladder. Interviewers will be impressed if you take the initiative to get involved and stay busy following a layoff, instead of just letting a hole develop in your resume.
- “You’ll have jobs you absolutely love and discover mentors (+ mentees) you’ll keep forever.”
Yes, we’ll all have jobs we dislike, and some we hate, but we’ll eventually find ones that we love as well. Elizabeth shares her experience with being a mentor, and briefly talks about her mentee and the bond they share. Her mentee has full access to her through text, and even through Snapchat, where they can talk about professional issues or questions, or even just have friendly conversation. Elizabeth expressed how much she loves being a mentor and a role model, and doing anything she can to aid students with entering in and thriving in the work force.
- “Sometimes love conquers the big city dreams. And it’s worth it. Make small city dreams.”
Elizabeth had always dreamt of living and working in DC, however at one point in her life she had to make the decision between staying with her husband in a small town, or moving to the big city for her career. Elizabeth stressed that sometimes it’s better to be a big fish in a small city rather than a small fish in a big city. Often in the field of PR, it’s easy to believe that to be successful means living and working in the city for a large corporation, but that’s not always the case. Elizabeth shows that success is available in small cities, if you work for it.
- “Don’t be afraid to ask for a raise. But don’t be an entitled brat about it.”
This tip is one we’ll all need help with eventually in the working world. Elizabeth shares that it’s okay to ask for a raise, just make sure you’re prepared, and that you’ve been with the company long enough to document everything you’ve done that makes you worthy of a raise. Along with this, she shares that it’s always helpful to do your research before you approach your boss. Research comparable jobs to see if you could possibly be making more money with other companies, if necessary apply to these jobs to show your boss that you have offers elsewhere that are higher in salary.
- “You’ll have an awful boss.”
Elizabeth shared her personal experiences with awful bosses, where on two occasions she left the companies due to her dislike of her boss. With these experiences of hers in our minds, she stressed that when interviewing, never bash your boss as the reason you left the company. She recommended saying things like “it wasn’t a good fit for me” or “I wanted to explore new opportunities”. If you bash your past boss in an interview, the interviewer will most likely be worrisome that you’d have a problem getting along with your boss or coworkers at their company as well.
- “You might get overwhelmed by stress. Talk to someone.”
In the workforce, just like in college, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, stressed, and to feel like you’re drowning in work. On one occasion, Elizabeth had trouble sleeping at night because of the environment her boss was creating in the workplace. Due to her trouble sleeping and the problems her boss was causing, she decided to see a counselor. This was really empowering because in society it is often looked down upon to seek help, but Elizabeth highly recommended talking to someone and I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes talking to someone is extremely beneficial just to get something that may be bothering you off your chest.
- “Have a long-term plan.”
Elizabeth highlighted the importance of never getting too comfortable. Always keep new goals in mind and seek new opportunities for moving up the ladder in your company, or in other companies. Never limit yourself and always seek a new plan and a new goal.
- “You’ll have a job you feel is beneath you. Learn what you can.”
Even if you feel you have nothing left to learn in a job, you may be learning new things every day that you don’t realize. Never limit your opportunity to learn, and always attempt to explore new opportunities or try things in a new way at your job if you feel the jobs beneath you.
- “Leadership and adult extracurricular are important. Make time for them.”
There’s more to life than a career. Elizabeth stressed significantly the importance of getting involved whether it be through organizations like PRSA, or just by taking part in clubs that keep you active such as a walking club or biking club. This is important to ensure that work isn’t the only thing in your life, don’t become a workaholic.
- “When a leap of faith presents itself. Take it. (But not without doing your research.)”
Elizabeth shares the leap of faith she took by taking a part-time job due to her wanting to be a mom first and putting her career second. She says that it’s okay to take leaps of faith and go out of your comfort zone, as long as you do your research first and make sure that taking that leap of faith won’t put you in trouble.
Elizabeth was a wonderful speaker and as a PRSSA member I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this session and listen to experiences she’s endured, and how she got to where she is now. These 15 tips she shared will impact every choice I make within my preparations for entering the work force, and for issues or successes in the work force that I may endure in the future. As a speaker, she did an amazing job at communicating and explaining each of her tips, and it was truly a pleasure to learn these tips from a woman as successful and intelligent as Elizabeth.