Lessons I Learned While Interning in SF This Summer

So, let me start off by saying crying in the back of a Lyft wasn’t exactly how I imagined the first day of my internship going. 

I woke up early (I’m talking 5:30am) and got ready for work, making sure to grab the necessities, but particularly my headphones and charger. I made it to my train and got to San Francisco with no drama. That’s when things started going to sh*t. I get on the bus and of course, my Clipper hadn’t loaded so there goes that loud buzzing sound. It’s meant to indicate low balance but all I could think was oh my god everyone heard and they think I’m broke. Which, duh, I am. I’m a college student but I didn’t need a public announcement. It hurt a little more given the fact I did pay for the monthly pass. So, I stand there inside the bus, bodies to my left and to my right, with my heart racing with the fear that some fare inspector was going to come and toss me out. I thankfully made it to my stop unscathed and proceed to wait for a shuttle that I ultimately never found. Que me calling a Lyft that got canceled three times (they canceled, one of which I lowkey begged him to cancel) because yeah, I was lost and panicking. Oh, did I mention my phone died mid-order and I asked the security officer at Chase bank to charge my phone, voice quivering with barely held back tears??

Continue reading Lessons I Learned While Interning in SF This Summer

Secure the Bag: Tips on How to Find Scholarships

It’s no secret that college is expensive. Tuition costs alone have most students by the neck but beyond that, there’s also housing, food, etc to factor in. So, what is a college student to do? I mean, it would be nice to study abroad or attend that professional conference that may line you up down the road.

For so long, college counselors and professors encourage students to apply for scholarships but honestly, a lot of us still seem to be at a loss.

Like…

The good news is that they do exist but most times, they’re just hidden in plain sight. They’re not properly marketed and they slip through the fingers of so many students that desperately need them. In my years at college, I’ve built– excuse my light flex– a strong resume of securing scholarships. Since I was raised right, I do want to pass on the knowledge for those that are struggling for paying for school and beyond. These four different methods have helped me keep my head afloat while in school and I hope that one of them can support someone out there!

1. Hit Up Your Department

 At most universities and colleges, there will be scholarship opportunities for students in each department. Typically, those departments, depending on how big they are, may have scholarships specific to each major in that department. While you can visit your department’s website, I wouldn’t trust just that at face value as they may not update it. Visit the physical location of your department and ask the front desk attendant for opportunities. If they end up being useless, ask the Chair of the department. Ask your professors.

In my experience, your university will also have campus-wide scholarships that will focus on community service, campus leadership, etc. If you aren’t busy at school handling things, look into areas where you can and you can also qualify for those scholarships too. Keep asking questions and keep your ear to the ground on scholarships in the department/college and university at large. Unfortunately, you may have to do a lot of grinding on your own but when that check clears? It’ll be all worth it.

2. Find Local Non-Profit Organizations

There are so many different nonprofit organizations across the world that do fundraising year-round to offer scholarships to students in their community. Your job is to find them! A good rule of thumb is finding national organizations because they may have local chapters. Some local chapters offer scholarships specifically to those that reside in certain counties and cities. There are organizations like the American Association of University Women that give hundreds of thousands of dollars to women in college throughout the country.

3. Embrace Your Roots

 Diversity and inclusion are important in any sector, and there are organizations that are dedicated to giving scholarships to students that have historically been disadvantaged. For my people interested in the communications/marketing industry, there are organizations such as The LAGRANT Foundation which is dedicated to creating space for minority students in those fields. They award $2.5k for undergraduates and $3k for graduate students (!) so I highly recommend looking into it. These opportunities exist for many industries, so if you identify as a minority, know there are people who want to help you excel so look for these opportunities!

If you go to a junior college, you may also have a strong chance of being awarded a scholarship. For example, at my junior college (JC), there was a scholarship dedicated to black students by the Black Staff and Faculty Association. My scholarship ranged between $600-800 and because my JC was predominately Asian and I had a strong application, I had a high chance of being awarded and I did!

The lesson of the story? Your community wants to see your excel so find those people who will propel you to where you’re meant to be.

4. FYI Your Parent’s Employer May Have The Bag

Depending on where your parents work, there may be opportunities for you to get scholarships from their employer. Some corporations, universities, and even retirement homes offer opportunities where children of employees can apply for scholarships. So, ask around, sis!

Remember to utilize Google, bang on the door of Financial Aid counselors, of academic counselors (they be knowin’) and ask upperclassman.

Please feel free to also message me if you have any questions!

💛

Elsa

Hit My Line: Tips for Working in Media Relations

So, you wanna send a press release, eh?  It’s edited to perfection, there are some great quotes and the event is worth attending. However, getting coverage on it?

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For those of us just starting out, it’s difficult to build a relationship with the media/working in media relations. The good news is that I listened to four media relations professionals speak at a PRSSA Regional Conference and they dropped some knowledge. Hopefully, these tips help and you can also kill it in media relations!

1. Befriend the media

Continue reading Hit My Line: Tips for Working in Media Relations

Five Career Tips for the Young Professional

There were many reasons on why I wanted to attend the 2018 Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Conference but they all boiled down to me needing some help. Career advice. Guidance, whatever you want to call it because I am a little overwhelmed, even if I pretend to have it together.

The public relations industry is competitive, and I’m not just trying to get my foot in the door. I’m trying to get my whole body in and that is a rather difficult task. The first step to making things happen is listening to those that reached great heights in their own career. Since I was a PRSA Foundation Grant Recipient, I was also very interested in hearing the insight from professionals that were of color, particularly those from the black community. So, when sessions began, I took note and notes.

On the second day of the conference, I listened to Cheryl I. Proctor-Rogers, APR and Raymond L. Kotcher, both PRSA Fellows share their wisdom with a room full of students. Their tips were so insightful that I wanted to pass it along to my fellow young professionals. I hope this can guide you in your career endeavors.

  1. It Takes $0 To Invest 20 Minutes to Your Career  

“Being a life-long learner is important to me”

– Cheryl I. Proctor-Rogers

We know that in writing, branding, or social media, consistency is key. The same rule should apply to career development. It’s important to allocate time to be curious and learn new things to enhance skills and our professional toolkit.

Have you been meaning to write a blog post? Get on it, sis. Do you want to learn how to make graphics? Make a free Canva account and watch some tutorials. Adobe Spark also is very helpful. Curious about the life of an industry professional? Send an email for an informational interview (after proper research, of course). We’re developing ourselves and our career by consistently doing these small 20-minute tasks and adding them into our everyday routine.

  1. Own The Elevator Pitch

“Know your words.”

– Raymond L. Kotcher

Before approaching anyone we may want to impress, it is a good idea to have a plan of what we want to say to them (think elevator pitch). First, we can start the conversation by sharing a genuine compliment or commonality we share. Hopefully, that will bleed into a fruitful conversation where we have the opportunity to share your passions, skills, or goals. When we “know our words,” the deliverance of our elevator pitch will be genuine and to the point.

So, practice that pitch and identify the key things you want to share about ourselves to professionals. From there, practice your delivery.

Also: listening well >>>.

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Me in Austin, Texas for my first national conference! S/O to PRSA Foundation ❤
  1. Hey, Just Do It  

“I was always open to change and trying new things.”

– Cheryl I. Proctor-Rogers

For those of you graduating within a year or two, you might already be imagining what your post-grad life will look like. Yikes, right? There are so many variables to consider. Ultimately, we need to remember to be open-minded. This rule applies to all parts of life but specifically, the adventures you can take with your career. Whether it be a new position, city, or industry, allow yourself the space to explore your interests. As young professionals, failure is inevitable, so let’s fail early. There is so much to explore and experience, so if there is something that peaks your interest, go for it. Who knows, you might find your lifelong calling.

  1. Network, But Make It Authentic  

“It’s not who you know, but what they know about you,”

– Cheryl I. Proctor-Rogers

Public relations students know the value of networking. However, building your network goes beyond just providing a business card and hoping for the best. It’s about fostering a genuine relationship with your peers, mentors and role models. Share what you’re passionate about. Be the type of person that not only graciously accepts opportunities but also passes them along to others. To summarize a quote by the late Maya Angelou, people will always remember how you made them feel, so leave them with a great impression of you.

  1. New Experiences, Same You

“Carry your moral compass with you. For yourself and for the industry. We’re going to count on you.”

– Raymond L. Kotcher

Wherever you end up working after graduation, you should feel welcomed. Company culture and values play a role in your long-term happiness, so join a team that you are proud of. There is value in working for a company that you believe in and working with leaders you look up to.  Also, just because you are young, does not mean you do not add value. You are capable and deserving, so occupy the space you are in and speak your mind. You are the future of the PR industry, be true to yourself and let your moral compass guide you throughout your career.

If you have some knowledge to drop, please share it in the comments so we can all get this bread!!

Everyone’s College Experience is Different (and that’s okay!)

The best thing about college is the independence and the opportunity to start fresh. When I graduated from high school in 2015, I promised myself that I was leaving home asap. I chose a university six hours away. I was able to explore hidden parts of myself and be free.

However, my naiveté was uncalled for, because—guess what—college is expensive. Sure, that’s glaringly obvious. But 18-year-old me was so set to leave and do something more, and I assumed I’d figure it out. I was awarded a scholarship that would cover my housing fees for most of the school year; I rationalized that I’d have a year to come up with the money to pay for my sophomore fees. Spoiler alert: I didn’t.

Continue reading Everyone’s College Experience is Different (and that’s okay!)

New Blog, Who Dis (JK)

Selam!

Welcome to my new blog.

It’s nice to have you here on this special day. I suppose introductions are in order, so I’ll try to make this short and sweet. I’m Elsa,  a fourth-year public relations at university in California.  Other things you should know about me are the following: I am a proud Ethiopian, I low-key still tear up over Robb Stark, and I have a deep appreciation for 90s fashion. Brown lipstick is my thing.

Also, I love to write. My  love for writing led me to study PR and consequently, to create this blog.

So, I’ve tried to make a consistent blog for like my whole life. It never worked out. The reasons why they never worked are endless but mostly, I didn’t know what to write and I worried that no one would care to read it.  However, I’ve come to a point where I was like, f*ck it. I’m going to do it.

So. Thus was born Stories With Elsa (SWE). SWE is a place where I’ll speak on a variety of things that are important to me –– books, the arts, college/career, and self-growth.

🗣Telling your story matters because no one can tell it best but you.

This blog is a way to share my story; a concrete place to document the things I am passionate about and the lessons I’ve learned. Also, I hope it reminds you that you’re good enough, capable, and not alone. It’s all love here. 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading what I have to say. Come through next time.  

💛

Elsa