More rewarding than you could imagine, working for a non-profit organization

By Allison Rumsas

imerman angelsEver since deciding to pursue a career in PR, I’ve always imagined myself working in an agency. I imagined living in Chicago’s Gold Coast, working at a world-renowned PR agency, managing several different accounts. I kept this dream in mind as I began to look for an internship last year and after sending numerous resumes and having multiple interviews, I received an internship at a non-profit organization called Imerman Angels. I was grateful to have been offered an internship opportunity, but I was apprehensive because it wasn’t exactly the path I had pictured for myself.

Looking back, the 10 weeks I spent as the Social Media & Communications Intern at Imerman Angels was eventful, chaotic, overwhelming and rewarding. I was once drawn to the glamour of the agency PR life, and after this summer, I wouldn’t say that my dreams have changed, but they have definitely shifted. I truly believe that everyone should work at a non-profit organization at some point in their life, whether it be as a volunteer, intern or employee, because the experiences and knowledge you gain, as well as the ability to impact someone’s life, are beneficial in more ways than one. If I still haven’t sold you on the idea of working for a non-profit, here are three more reasons why you should:

Triple Threat. By definition, non-profits don’t sell a service or good, so their budgets for hiring employees are limited, which means that each position has a variety of responsibilities. After my 10 weeks, I didn’t only learn how to draft and manage social media content, but I also learned to do administrative tasks such as documenting donations and planning/executing events. There are always different areas that need help, so get ready to get your feet wet!

It’s a Small World. Imerman Angels has less than ten paid full-time staff members and the rest are volunteers or interns. Not all non-profit organizations are small, but many operate with fewer employees than corporations or agencies, which gives the staff at non-profit organizations more opportunities to know each other personally. Even though I was only there for a couple months, I made a personal connection with every employee and they each brought their own knowledge and experiences to the organization.

A Helping Hand. Not that I think this needs any more reiteration, but all non-profit organizations positively impact the lives of individuals in countless ways.  Imerman Angels’ mission is to make sure that no one has to fight cancer alone, which is something dear to my heart. Receiving heartfelt phone calls, emails and letters explaining how you drastically changed someone’s life for the better, is more satisfaction than you could ever receive from any other volunteering opportunity, internship or job.

The key to interning at a non-profit organization is finding an organization that represents a cause you truly care about. Interning for an organization close to your heart will make your experiences, skills and knowledge gained even more invaluable.

Imerman Angels is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide personalized connections that enable one-on-one support among cancer fighters, survivors, and caregivers. (www.imermanangels.org)

New graduates and agency work. PRSSA Meeting 1.28.13

Happy Sunday, PRSSA members. Tomorrow is our favorite day of the week! Monday, January 27, please join us in Scripps 111 at 6 p.m. Three outstanding speakers are joining us to discuss life after graduation and working in agency PR. Caroline, Heather and Nicole currently work at agencies.

Caroline supports the client engagement team at Fahlgren Mortine as an Account OU-picAssociate working for various clients, including Honda of America Manufacturing, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, Emerson Network Power and Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. A graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, Caroline’s previous experience includes supporting public relations efforts for Fortune 100 company, Cardinal Health, for which she was awarded PRSSA’s National Best Public Relations Campaign.

Heather Farr is a Media Relations Specialist at Walker Sands Communications in Chicago. heather In her position, she handles the day-to-day communications and outreach efforts for several clients in retail/eCommerce and cybersecurity.

Prior to obtaining a position at Walker Sands, Heather was part of a small team at GolinHarris Chicago that supported The Dow Chemical Company’s sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics. As an undergrad, she also gained experience at Young & Rubicam/Ogilvy Zambia, FTI Consulting, New York-based music magazine Relix, the Ohio University Office of Education Abroad and the OU Advancement Department. She also worked on social media marketing practices for Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead.

Heather graduated from Scripps in 2012 with a degree in PR and a certificate from the Global Leadership Center. While in school, Heather was active on the executive boards of both ImPRessions and PRSSA, ultimately serving as PRSSA president. Prior to graduation, Heather was voted the Central Ohio PRSA “Outstanding PRSSA Graduate” and selected by Scripps faculty as the 2012 “Outstanding Graduate in Public Relations.” She is currently a member of the Chicago PRSA Programming Committee.

Nicole Bersani graduated from Ohio University in June with a journalism major, PR NicoleBersanisequence, Global Leadership certificate and sports marketing specialization. She joined PRSSA and ImPRessions her freshman year, where she eventually served on both executive boards. She also studied abroad in Vietnam and Bahamas, and traveled to D.C. and San Diego for PRSSA National Conferences.

Throughout her college tenure, she obtained nine internships in communications from public relations to crisis communication and sports marketing to non-profit. Her final internship at Ogilvy in Chicago led to a full-time job as an assistant account executive in its social media practice, Social@Ogilvy (“social at ogivly”). She works on creating content, managing communities, measuring outreach and developing strategies for six international household cleaning brands on social media platforms.

Aside from work, Nicole is also on the PRSA New Professionals Executive Committee as a membership chair where she welcomes and helps new professionals who have joined PRSA national.

See you then, PR stars.