Fair warning: This blog post will be discussing my career and my current job – if that sounds boring to you, now is the time to click away and go watch some cat videos on YouTube (here’s one to get you started).
Now, for those of you that are left (miraculously) curious about my job – you are wonderful people. Can we be friends? But seriously – let’s chat.
- My Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies (Whitworth University)
- My Employer: Benton County, WA
- My Job Title: Community Programs & Public Relations Coordinator (it’s a mouth-full, I know)
- My Department: A trick question really, as I don’t technically have a department though I am under the supervision of the Administration/Commissioners Office.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the fun part because I am sure that my job title left you asking yourself – “So what does she actually do?” which would be a very common question, albeit a difficult one to unpack. So, let’s get started.
What I Do
My role is to serve as the main point of contact for the County regarding communications, public relations, social media, and other duties as assigned. You see what I did there? That last portion of the sentence is the key – let me say it again, louder for everyone in the back. OTHER DUTIES AS ASSIGNED.
If you’re unfamiliar with that phrase, it’s because you’ve never had a full-time job. For those of you that know, let’s grab a drink sometime and bond.
But in all reality, that is a large portion of my job. The position that I am in is a completely new position. As in, the job did not exist prior to my employment. Which means that I have the privilege to shape the job, which is phenomenal. But that also means that it has taken almost two years to figure out what my role is.
Word of advice: starting a job that’s never existed in an organization is both exhilarating and incredibly frustrating at times. Be patient with the job and your coworkers – everyone is just trying to figure out what you do. They’re going to get your title wrong (a LOT). And that’s okay.
Full disclosure: I love (and hate) my job. That’s the truth that everyone is hiding, regardless of how much they say they *love* their job.
Everyone has bad days. Everyone has good days. But I guarantee you that NO ONE is taking selfies at their desk when they spilled coffee on their shirt or had lettuce between their teeth during the biggest presentation of their career.
But, I digress. You’re here to listen to me talk about what I do and my experience.
But Seriously, What Do You Do?
I work in government. For some of you, that’s a turn-off and that’s okay. I’m working every day to change your perception, and I can tell you that is a very slow route.
I am one of very few millennials working in local government. *High-five to all my comrades in the field.* Being of a different generation than 90% of your coworkers had been an incredible learning curve to adjust to. Every day, I have to learn to adjust to generational differences, different work styles, communication styles, conflict management styles, and so on.
If anyone came to me today and said a communications degree is useless, I might just have to punch them in the face.
My degree has given me more tools than I could ever wish for (go bucs!). However, claiming your place in an organization that has historically thrived on tradition is terrifying.
In the first year and half of my job, I have:
- Created a public relations system. This sounds fancier than it really is. I essentially stepped in and realized that no one in the organization was consistently (or ever) putting out press releases on behalf of the County for the dissemination of critical information. That had to change, so I changed it and now am the contact for the majority of PR issues for the County (mainly the Commissioners Office). Problem solved. I occasionally host press releases and events for the County too, such as parks ribbon cuttings or other special events.
- Implemented social media for my organization. By this I mean I set up and currently maintain a Facebook and Twitter account for the County. However, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. First, I had to convince everyone that we needed it. Then convince the attorneys. Then write a social media policy (which took a year to complete). Then work with departments that already had social media to figure out if: 1) they really needed it; 2) who was maintaining it; and 3) whether it was effective. Then I had to help those who wanted to utilize social media to be effective at doing so.
- Started (and have almost completed) a re-branding project. As in, the County did not have an official logo, standardized business cards, letterhead, envelopes, or email signatures. I worked to research, release a Request for Proposals, review, select a designer (shout out to Focal Point Marketing), and work with said designer to develop (and soon implement) a new County brand, including a new logo suite, color palette, style guide, and stationary.
- Manage Gang & Crime Prevention Initiative. This program is funded through the local Public Safety Sales Tax, and funds programs administered and managed by local non-profit organizations to combat gang activity and crime in the Benton County area. I have a biased opinion, but I personally think this program is wonderful. Hit me up if you ever want to talk about it, or you can find more information here.
- Assist in website management. Our County IT Department is the primary manager of the website, but I design slides for our homepage, manage news information, and regularly update information about the Public Safety Sales Tax, Commissioners Office issues, and assist in updating other department pages as necessary.
I know there are a TON more things that I do at my job, but those items really cover the basics of my job. I regularly work with other government agencies in the community, as well as non-governmental agencies and groups.
I love my job (clearly) and would love to talk to you more about it if the last thousand words haven’t quenched your thirst for knowledge about what my Monday-Friday looks like.
But seriously – I love talking to folks about what I do. Just ask my professors, who were wonderful enough to ask me to come speak to their classes (okay, I may have come up with the idea but still). I am visiting them for two days to talk to their students about my career. How great is that?
Anyway, thank you for listing to my now 1130 word rant about my career. Y’all are the best.