Saying Goodbye to My Comfort Zone

January 24, 2010 at 2:41 pm 8 comments

Tomorrow will be my last day on the job.

Flickr attrib: rick.simmons09

I’ve worked at Ferris State University Advancement and Marketing in the News Services and Media Relations department since May 2008. The skills and knowledge I’ve gained there have been both work-smart:

Writing, editing, knowledge of AP style, constructing catchy and relevant headlines, finding the interesting perspective for a not-as-interesting story, turning a topic into something more than what is seen at face value, figuring out the right questions to ask in order to have a successful interview, how to coax one-word responders into fleshing out more information during an interview, how to research and write a story about something I have no previous knowledge about (IT software and heavy-machinery? Been there, done that) and how to deal with inquiries and angry parents when their child didn’t make the front page of the news

As well as street-smart:

How to deal with office politics, how to avoid and diffuse negativism and gossip, how to handle criticism, how to deal with contacts that fail to respond to multiple phone calls and emails, how to remain calm and polite when a contact is intentionally rude, how to approach people in a friendly and professional manner so that they are excited about being interviewed, how to dress professional yet stylish in order to bridge the student-to-professional gap, how to engage in small-talk without it seeming like small-talk, how to be photographed (I was asked to be in promotional pieces for Ferris, including a billboard), how to ask someone to do something for you without seeming bossy, how to act confident when I don’t feel confident and how to ask for help

The skills and knowledge I learned at Ferris News Services and Media Relations helped polish me professionally and socially. My mentors, Leah Nixon (Assistant Director of News Services aka my boss) and Sandy Gholston (marketing specialist/ sports writer for Ferris) helped me hone my skills and taught me many lessons about the work world and the real world. I am forever grateful to both of them and will always fondly remember them, along with others in my office.

But when new opportunities present themselves to you, you realize that it is time to test unfamiliar waters.

This month, I was approached about a freelancing opportunity. And then another. While the pay is fairly good for still being classified a “college student,” it is more so the challenge to test my skills that convinced me to leave my job at Ferris News Services and Media Relations and set sail on my own ship.

I will be beginning my first freelancing gig and thus a new chapter in my professional life. I’ve already realized there are many aspects to being self-employed that you don’t need to think about when working 9-to5 in a cubicle:

  • Figuring out the worth of your skills and how much to charge
  • Creating a contract and agreeing upon terms of payment, services provided, etc
  • Managing time spent on the road, with the client and working from home
  • Asking those with more experience for advice and help
  • Figuring out what the heck I’m supposed to do about my taxes

And that is just the icing on the cake. However, I think this will not only be a valuable work lesson, but a valuable life lesson. I am ready to take on this challenge with enthusiasm and probably misplaced optimism. I know I will struggle along the way and feel like I am in over my head. But a fish can only grow as big as its bowl allows it.

I’m ready for a bigger bowl.


Entry filed under: Beyond the Campus Bubble. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dan Hamilton  |  January 24, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    This post is both well written and inspiring. I’m sure UA&M will sorely miss you, but you will bring your skills and personality to new areas and to new people. So go get ’em tiger!

  • 2. Sandy Gholston  |  January 24, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Wow, that was very nicely done Mikinzie. As Dan wrote, there’s no doubt we will miss you in too many ways to describe (and do your talents, personality and work ethic justice). I look forward to the great things I know you will accomplish in the future.

    That was VERY kind of you to list me as a mentor.

    • 3. mikinzie  |  January 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm

      You have been such a great teacher and adviser to me, with lessons about both UAM and life. I really don’t know how I can thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me. And I will sorely miss our cube chats.

      Honestly, I think you are a natural-born mentor. Must be the coach in you! I have no doubt that you will be one to every student-writer who comes after me. See you tomorrow for my last day! 🙂

  • 4. lmnovo  |  January 24, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    I’m so excited for you, girl! Make sure you keep us all updated on the new adventure! I would love to have a freelancing gig of my own. Let me know if you have any pointers 🙂

    • 5. mikinzie  |  January 24, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      I will most certainly blog about my self-employed life. Drafting a post about “my beginning” as I type!

  • 6. Kellye Crane  |  January 24, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Welcome to the world of PR consulting, Mikinzie! You’re wise to note that both workplace smarts and street smarts are needed as an independent consultant. We look forward to hearing more about your experiences and if you’d ever like to guest post on Solo PR Pro, just let me know. All the best in your new adventure!

  • 7. jasmollica  |  January 24, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    This is your time to shine and a great opportunity to show the rest of the PR world your talents. The fact that you are embarking on this opportunity while you are still in school is incredible, but not shocking. I say that with all respect because since I’ve been “talking” to you over twitter and via the blog, I can already tell our industry is lucky that you chose PR.

  • 8. Matt Cheuvront  |  January 27, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Good luck M! Couldn’t be happier for you to take the next step. Let’s plan a Skype call soon so you can tell me all about how you’re doing!


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