Guest Post: Bright Lights, Big City – UO Duckling Heads to Chicago

saramaya weissman in chicago

Kelli’s Note: I am thrilled to host this guest post from Saramaya Weissman. Chicago is that city that ‘in another life’ I would love to live in. So proud of her for taking this chance and making it work! Saramaya is a 2010 graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. She currently lives in Chicago and interns at Edelman Public Relations. You can reach her via Twitter at @SaramayaFaye.

Exactly three months after I graduated from the University of Oregon I started an amazing and ideal internship at Edelman Public Relations in their co-global headquarters of Chicago. I’m SO thrilled to be here, but the job hunting journey this summer and figuring out “what’s next?” was no easy path.

From a small town in beautiful north Idaho to wonderfully hipster Eugene, I was dying for a big city and had my eyes set on Chicago. After months of applying online, networking events in Oregon, and only a few actual interviews, my resume was unnoticed and I graduated unemployed. But with seven internships and numerous awards, I had confidence I’d be hired soon…right?

The summer flew by and I was still floating around in Eugene. Living off graduation gift money and honestly, feeling like a failure, I wondered when and if I’d ever get my foot in the door. I still had my eyes set on Chicago, but there was one minor issue: I’d never been there before and knew absolutely no one in the Midwest, let alone the Windy City. So, what did I do? Network baby, network.

So, I decided to just do it and do it now. I booked a ticket to Chicago for 10 days and started intense trip prep. I contacted everyone I knew from peers and professors to coworkers and family. “I’m going to Chicago in three weeks, know anyone I can set up an informational interview?!” From there, my trip planned itself. I took advantage of my current network and created one in Chicago.

My trip to Chicago included hours of exploration and meeting with amazing individuals (some fellow alum) in the communications world. After stopping by Google, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Chicago Cubs, and multiple PR agencies – I kept thinking, “This is great! I’m actually establishing my network,” and hoping to come back soon for real interviews. Little did I know, I’d be moving in two short weeks for an internship at one of the largest independent public relations firms in the world and recently named Advertising Age’s Top-Ranked PR Firm of the Decade.

Special shout out to Kelli Matthews who connected me with a fellow alum at Edelman in Chicago. I met with him, HR, and a junior employee (each individually) on a Tuesday, was asked to take the writing test on Wednesday, had a second interview with senior executives on Thursday, and offered a three-month paid internship on Friday! The day I flew out from Chicago was the day I started planning my move back (across eight states). I did it! I was aggressive with networking (both old and new contacts) and it was worth it! I felt (and still am) ecstatic!

My words of advice if you’re still on the hunt (or feeling like you are in the back-up plan) – don’t settle for anything (in my case, I needed a city and one not in the Northwest). Go for what you want and you absolutely will find it. Just remember to remain confident and even when you might feel like a failure (and I definitely did), know that you simply haven’t found the right fit yet. Just keep looking and you will absolutely find it.

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