College success stories

Nikonie Brown is a public relations professional from Mississippi. Prior to moving to Atlanta, GA, she received her BA in Communication from Mississippi University for Women and her MS in Public Relations. When she isn’t working, Nikonie enjoys blogging and other forms of writing. She has contributed to blogs, had press releases and features published online and in newspapers and created social media content for companies.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Turn those lemons into lemonade.” Well, as cliché as it sounds, it’s a good way to look at things if they don’t go your way. I often think of the times I’ve had to turn lemons that came my way into lemonade.

For example, I have always been involved in activities so when I finished school (both times) and struggled to find a job (both times), I felt weird having less to do. When I graduated in 2010, I moved back home and took a break before going back to graduate school in August 2011. During that time, I struggle to find a job relevant to my field, but I never stopped looking and occupying my time.

I did enjoy the break and sleeping in, but I always made sure I didn’t get too lazy. One thing that kept me occupied was applying for graduate school. I stayed busy by getting my information together, getting reference letters, writing a statement of purpose and studying for the GRE. I eventually started waitressing at a restaurant in my hometown for a couple of months to save money before I moved to Hattiesburg.

I sort of went through this again after getting my master’s in 2012. I moved back home again and began working with people doing social media and administrative work. Although moving back home for the second time wasn’t the most pleasant experience, I still made it work. Working with businesses helped me add to my portfolio, gave me extra money and gave me more references.

I finally moved to Atlanta in September 2014 and continue to search for work. I began working at Macy’s as a seasonal sales associate and was moved over to part-time. I also recently began temping for a company in sales. Both of these jobs help me improve my interpersonal skills and pitching, which will help me in the public relations field. So when I do get the job that’s perfect for me, I’ll be even more ready.

Now that you’ve seen how I turned things around, think about how you can apply this mantra to your life. It works if you’re looking into colleges, attending college or a graduate looking for a job.

Looking and applying to college
You didn’t get into your dream school? It’s ok. Attend a community college or another college and transfer, if possible. A community college allows you time to take your core classes and keep your GPA up. And that other four year college you were looking at may turn out to be the better choice. You’ll might love it there more than your “dream” school.

In college
You didn’t get into that club or sorority/fraternity you had your heart set on? Take some time to evaluate why you didn’t get in and think about if that club or sorority/fraternity was really right for you. And if you decide to look into another organization, that’s fine too. You can also volunteer so you could have more references if you decide to rush again. Volunteering is also a good way to meet people and it makes you feel better knowing you helped someone.

Out of college in the “real world”
Are you struggling to find a job? Offer to volunteer at local businesses. This will get you more references and more experience. They may also offer to pay you, which is always awesome. Also look into freelancing, which is an excellent opportunity if you’re a writer. Don’t forget to network! Always stay in contact with professors and past bosses from your college or university. You never know how they can help.

Now you may have heard all these things several times and it can get annoying when people constantly tell you what you should try. I know I’ve felt that way, but looking back, I can see how my past experiences have shaped me. Though I still haven’t found my “dream” PR job, I have found ways to make everything apply to what I want even if they don’t fall under the exact public relations description.

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