Gaining Experience and Preparing for Anything

By Melissa Sweredoski, junior

Walking down the promenade on one of my first days of class at High Point University, I noticed a quote by Henry Ford. “The only real security that a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability.” I knew that I was at the perfect place to gain a reserve of knowledge. I had ability waiting to be molded, but I lacked experience. How would I ever be successful in the communications field if I had no hands-on experience? This left me with the realization that I would need a job. Fast.

Being a Strategic Communications major at HPU put me in contact with many prestigious companies and associates, as well as professors, with plenty of experience in the field. Dr. Phil Watson and Dr. Bobby Hayes have worked a combined 50+ years in their respective fields. Having both of these professors throughout my career at HPU put me in a position to acquire the skills to be hired for a solid internship.

We have an extraordinary Office of Career and Internship Services at HPU. Eric Melniczek, author of “Transition to the Real World,” is a career counselor that has helped me contact businesses and taught me how to create a stand-out resume.

I knew I would have to take some drastic measures to solidify the dream internship I was after. If there is anything I have learned at HPU so far, it is that if you want something you have to go and get it. President Nido Qubein has been quoted many times saying, “The time is now. The person is you.” So here I was a 19-year-old looking to work at one of the top 50 Public Relations Firms in the country. Impossible, you say? Not for an HPU student.

My search began with looking at the Public Relations Society of America (which High Point University has a chapter of) and O’Dwyer Public Relations websites. After searching for the most successful companies, I chose 38 to send my resume to. While this was very time consuming, it was worth it! Four companies responded, inquiring after more information. A few days later I flew to DC to interview with JPA Health Communications, and I got the job!

This past summer, I was able to gain experience in the health communication field under one of the top ranked health public relations firms in the country. This is all due to the preparation not only inside, but more importantly, outside the classroom.

The experiential learning aspect of High Point University’s curriculum allowed me to grow my character, not just my knowledge. I understand how to communicate effectively with people, and am confident in the interview processes because of the skills I’ve acquired in my communications classes. Without High Point University’s guidance and preparations I would not have succeeded in this internship.

I am currently using my ability to expand my knowledge by joining the B.A. to M.A. Program in Strategic Communication, where I begin my journey to receive my master’s degree while finishing my undergraduate degree. Also, I am working with HPU’s Department of Communication to further my experience in the communications field. These opportunities are part of what make me so thankful to be a member of the HPU family.

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