Graduation date: May 2015
Areas of study while enrolled at OU: Journalism, Public Relations
Current professional role: Marketing Consultant and Photographer
What campus resources, learned skills, or advice received during college prepared you most professionally?
It may seem daunting at the time, but my Capstone classes with Professor Dan Farkas and Professor Dan Dahlen taught me the ‘real world’ skills I really needed. Sure, those niche classes may come in handy, but it is things like presentations, deadlines, and bosses that you need to learn how to deal with the most. In my senior Capstone classes, we were not treated like students, but real-world professionals. If a project was late, it was a zero. Because in the real world if you don’t meet a deadline, the project is worthless. Seek out professors that value your opinion and treat you as equals early on, and use them as resources. They will be the ones that will teach you the most valuable skill set in preparation for graduation.
How has your extracurricular or leadership experience impacted your career path?
I’ve learned that not only what is on your resume, but how you carry yourself is what seals the deal for landing that ‘dream’ job. Leadership responsibilities are something that can not be taught in a classroom. It has to be learned through self-absorption. My leadership roles taught me things like confidence: how to speak up in a room full of executives, organization: how to manage six clients in an agency at once, and management: how to successfully give feedback and help the others around you grow.
What, if anything, has surprised you about the direction your career path has taken?
After majoring in Strategic Communication being taught by some of the best PR professionals in the country, I knew I had to give PR a shot after college. I worked at an agency for one year and would not change a thing. The fast-paced environment kept me constantly on my toes and the PR knowledge and skills I gained in 12 months will be forever invaluable. But…I learned that PR was not my passion. After work, I would spend my nights focusing on photography, which is what truly made me happy and kept me constantly inspired and eager to explore the world. I took a huge leap of faith in my gut feeling, quit my job, and started my own photography business. Life is too short to not feel constantly alive and fulfilled. It is okay to try new things, and yes it is okay to quit jobs too.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during the job-search process and how did you overcome that?
I can not stress how many jobs I applied to. Over 60, maybe? After graduation, I got a restaurant job and gave myself time to relax. Please for the sake of your sanity…do the same. Life is not a rush. Who cares if your classmate got a big wig job in NYC one week after graduation, that just means they are going to grow grey hair faster than you. Take your time. Breathe. The right job will come to you eventually.
What is your favorite thing about post-grad life?
Exploring new cities, new places. Not knowing one soul or ever even been to the city, I packed my bags and moved to Denver. Because why? Because I had the freedom to figure out where I wanted to start my professional career as a creative. Similar to jobs, I suggest trying things (cities) out. Figure out where is the best for you – what fits your style, what inspires you. For me, that is the mountains. In post-grad life, I have the opportunity to explore beyond a college campus.
If you could go back and tell your college-self one thing, what would it be?
Do not stress about getting a job the week after graduation. As cliche as it sounds, I really regret not spending more time focusing on my friends and freedom the last semester of senior year. Don’t waste your nights applying for jobs; companies typically won’t even listen to you because you are still a student. Have fun. Go out. Learn life lessons that you gain from making poor decisions and letting loose.
Hannah May Photography Gallery
on her photography Instagram.