This post of "Journey to My Job" features Lisa Grimm, who works at Mall of America as a digital public relations specialist.
1. Tell me about your career path so far, and how you found each of your jobs.
Nothing about my life has been conventional, including my formal education and career path. There are many paths to success, and sometimes they’re not necessarily those that ‘most’ people follow. Everyone is different, learns at their own pace and has their own potential to discover. That path can be whatever you want it to be.
Mine includes a college career that lasted six years. Two of which were at the University of Minnesota and four more, including the completion of my bachelor’s degree, at Metropolitan State University where I studied public relations and social science. Jobs have included: server, writing and research intern (agency), account coordinator (agency), marketing manager at a small sales training company and my current role, digital PR specialist at Mall of America.
Each life experience and job has taught me an incredible amount about the communications (and other) discipline(s), but far more about myself and how I can be a better professional. Instead of running you through each of my job searches, I’ll share with you what’s been key in each of my career opportunities thus far.
I’m not shy. I’ve always immersed myself in environments that interest me and tend to surround myself with people far smarter than me. I read and am fiercely committed to learning and growing, as a human and as a professional. I write and chat with a number of people in hopes that my communication skills improve. I work at being self-aware and knowing what my strengths and weaknesses are so that I can work best with those around me and continue to grow. Wherever I go, there I am, and good character accounts for a lot in this world. In short:
- · It’s all about who you know.
- · It’s all about what you know.
- · It’s all about how well you articulate what you know.
- · Always present your best self wherever you go.
- Don’t compromise on what you’re passionate about for a job (or anything) you don’t really want.
My job consists of writing and implementing digital strategy, community management, pitching and a sprinkling of traditional PR. In essence, I work on building social media strategy that lays over existing marketing communications and business objectives. The Mall has a number of digital properties and our aim is for them to each serve a different, but complementary purpose to the audiences that use them. Community management consists of monitoring online conversations, curating content and engaging with our online and offline communities in a cohesive manner. I get to do a little pitching and more traditional PR from time to time, which I enjoy as well. I have an amazing job.
3. What worked well for you in your most recent job search?
Knowing what I wanted, diligence and perseverance were the foundation of my job search. On top of that solid ground, I focused on networking, events, education, and building relationships.
I’ve provided a link below to my blog, which contains more specificity about the above, but what I’ll say here is that PRSA is where I met one of my mentors. He provided me with 15 years of insight that I didn’t have and challenged me to think beyond my looking glass, which was immensely helpful. Serving as cochair of the communications committee of PRSA was a great path to getting to know the community and leadership better. Twitter was by far the largest driver of my job search. Twitter is an amazing communication tool and allows people to connect in real time based on shared interests, which can be as silly as sharing favorite food joints, to scholarly articles and literature about industry best practices. I have met some of the most amazing people on Twitter and built great professional relationships (yes, we know each other in real life too). My fluency in the tool and robust network served me well in the interview process. Events like MIMA Summit, Blogworld Expo and Social Media Breakfast have been amazing to learn about a broad range of topics and meet like minds. I read a lot and play with new communication tools to see where they may fit in something I’m working on, or just to keep up with all the fuss. I’m naturally curious, so a lot of my spare time is spent researching things.
4. What would you have done differently in your most recent job search?
Absolutely nothing. I’m the type of person that [when I know] knows what I want and takes the necessary steps to get there. This was one of those cases in my life where I went out and found what I was looking for. My patience was not always the best, but that’s why you surround yourself with people who kick you in the butt every now and then and remind you how much you have to be grateful for. I absolutely LOVE my job and am thankful for the opportunity.
5. What advice do you have for job seekers today?
There are obvious things, like extensively researching your prospects, being a good writer and being able to articulate your strengths and how they will be an asset to the company. In addition, a strong handshake, eye contact, good communication skills and humility. Confidence, or lack of it, is a large factor in the hiring process, and in life. How we present ourselves to people quickly determines so many things. Professionally, from what I’ve observed, it determines how a company will be able to take advantage of you, or ‘mold’ you, or if you’re going to be helpful closing deals and making it rain. May sound nuts, but I think I’m on to something. Be confident in who you are and what you have to offer, but always bring an equal amount of humility to the table.
There are two recent blog posts that may fill in a lot of holes not touched on here. “Dress for the Job You Want” sums up how I feel about some of the important things a job seeker should do and “What Does Digital PR Specialist for Mall of America Do Anyway” will give a bit more insight to my day to day.
Connect with Lisa through LinkedIn, Twitter or her Communications Passionista blog.
-- Brant Skogrand, APR, MBC