With graduation drawing close, college students across the country are panicking even more than usual as they try to get a job in the middle of a pandemic. Even professionals with years of field experience are concerned about moving jobs or finding a career path as the coronavirus has made it difficult to find opportunities or stability.
Emily Reise a public relations and social media professional managed to navigate this new landscape amazingly well, landing her current position as a digital marketing coordinator for Nurses PRN in Appleton, Wisconsin about a month ago.
Reise majored in public relations and minored in environmental studies at UW-Oshkosh, all while undertaking four internships in her field. Upon graduation, she headed to St. Paul, Minnesota to work as a social media coordinator for Midwest Sign. After a year and a half, she was looking for a chance to come back home to the Fox River Valley, and found Nurses PRN.
According to its website, Nurses PRN is a staffing agency that connects clients and nurses “driven by the simple idea that better nursing care leads to better patient care.” The company notes that it has 500 active employees and fills approximately 6,000 shifts monthly for its clients.
Reise was nice enough to answer a few questions about what she learned as a student that she still uses and what she does in her new job:
You landed at Nurses PRN right in the middle of a pandemic and you are responsible for digital marketing content. I guess two questions that come off of that statement are a) What does your job normally entail? and b) What is life like dealing with this job now in the middle of this insanity?
“A normal day would consist of me taking leads from Facebook ads and ‘gifting’ them to recruiters in the company depending on the area they are staffing and the type of nurse they need. I am the main social media guru, so I make the content calendar, come up with content, strategize social media campaigns and monitor comments and messages. I also have my hands in email marketing, events, managing job boards, and helping edit and write website copy.
“Landing a job in the middle of a pandemic, especially in the nursing field, is chaotic to say the least! Everything is abnormal and changing which demands a ton of agility when approaching ads and job boards. Certain jobs are streaming in because of layoffs and furloughs that normally we never had an excess of. This floods the ads and gives us tons of leads we may need or not need depending on facility need. This forces me to jump in and start making decisions whether to shut off ads, make new ones, or edit the creative or copy. There is no ‘normal’ right now and no directions on how to adjust social media ads for nurses when there is a global pandemic.”
How did you land a job during this time of absolute uncertainty, given all the cuts to everything and how it seems like the economy is going to hell in a speedboat? What was it that drew you to this company and what was it that got them to find you as the perfect fit?
“I was looking for a new opportunity back home in the Fox Valley since I was living in the Twin Cities. I chose a day in March and interviewed with five different companies. Nurses PRN was the first company I interviewed with. By the end of the interview I remember telling them, ‘I am at a 10, I want this job- hire me today!” (They didn’t hire me that day.)
“I knew I belonged there because of how laid back and enthusiastic the marketing team was about their jobs. I clicked instantly with them. I found out later they were looking for an upbeat person who wasn’t afraid to express new ideas. Luckily, I can talk to a brick wall… I felt I connected well and after working for many companies, I now know that company culture and the people I work with is the most important factor for me.
“I got the job the next week and had to finish my current job. Two weeks after I put in my two weeks, though, the COVID-19 pandemic was heightened and I was worried they would move my start date back. Instead, they shipped a laptop, work phone, and training manuals right to my house so I could start remotely. Even though it’s not perfect, I’m so thankful to have a job during these uncertain times and working for a company who takes risks and cares enough to let me start on time.”
In your career to date, what are some of the most important things you learned in college in terms of being prepared to do this work? In other words, what “tools” were the most important things that college put into your “toolbox” for your career?
“Learning to write for blogs, website copy, and press releases has proved to be invaluable in my career. At my previous job, I wrote around 49 blogs in the year of 2019 alone. Now I mostly edit other people’s written work but taking Writing for the Media taught me to always comb through everything with an eye for detail.
(I still remember the day I got my assignment back from you and I went and cried in your office because I got an F since I spelled the lady’s last name in the story with an “a” instead of an “e.” You called that a major error and said I will always remember to double check details like that and never changed the grade. WELL, YOU WERE RIGHT! I STILL TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT!)”
Right about now, a ton of students are looking for jobs and there is always that fear of “Oh, dear Lord, what happens when I can’t get a job?” As someone who graduated not that long ago (and who I know had some of those jitters at certain times), what kinds of advice can you give the kids who are graduating and worried about what will be out there for them, especially given our current situation?
“One of the biggest chunks of advice I can give grads, especially during the pandemic, is to be open minded. I thought I was going to be working for a sustainability company doing public relations. Now I’m working for a nurse staffing company as a marketer.
“I realized that the largest factors in finding a job you love isn’t just about the industry you are in, but the work you are doing, the people you work with, and the overall company culture. Don’t be too picky, if you think you would like the job duties, apply for it!”
Cheap (and kind of self-serving) question: If Emily “now” could go back in time and talk to the Emily who was just starting her degree (with a “Writing for the Media” class), what would you tell her?
“I would say, ‘You’re right, you won’t be a journalist, but you will use these skills every single day in your career.’ Writing is something all employers crave in marketing and PR employees.
“I had to do multiple tests during interview processes to prove to the employers I knew how to write a press release or blog. I write for the media daily whether that be for social media, website copy, press releases, or blogs.
“Also, Filak was right. You will always remember spelling that damn person’s last name wrong.”