As the summer before my senior year neared its end, I began to explore my options for life after college. The pressure of graduation weighed heavily on my mind. I realized that with public relations I had several options. Unfortunately, I did not feel qualified to tackle entry-level agency positions. Though I had one more year in school, my heart yearned for an educational adventure. I researched local internships and focused on obtaining positions that would allow me to flourish as a young professional and maintain a full-time school schedule. The opportunities were slim. Beyond that, I could not silence the voice in my mind that urged me to take a risk. A few weeks later, I found myself sitting in a Starbucks and emailing the CEO of Kirvin Doak Communications (KDC), a public relations firm in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Though the city is certainly enticing, I did not select it at random. Several years ago, my uncle Shane received a promotion that required the family to move to Nevada. Upon graduating high school, I dreamed of moving out West and attending the University of California in Los Angeles. I muffled my desire and chose to make things easier on my parents. I accepted scholarships and enrolled at the University of Arkansas. My love for the university blossomed, but my intrigue for the West Coast never wavered.
Several years back I attended my father’s annual holiday reunion. I updated the elders on my plans, both for college and beyond. My uncle was delighted to hear that switched my major from pre-medicine to public relations. He explained that one of his friends owned a large public relations firm back in Las Vegas. He assured me that the company possessed a pristine reputation and urged me to do some research. I took his word for it and scanned the company’s website. At that time, the idea seemed out of reach. Two years later, the idea seemed like my destiny. I called Shane. It was time.
Over the course of two weeks, I exchanged emails with the CEO of KDC. I spent all of my downtime researching the company, the clients and the city. A series of emails transformed into a series of phone calls. Bill Doak and I conversed about my past, my professional experience and most importantly – my goals. He acted as a mentor, asking thought-provoking questions and providing me with sound advice. I respected him, but felt comfortable enough to be honest. Before each of our phone calls, I drafted up questions and observations. During our next phone call, I relayed my decision and explained my reasoning. I anticipated a thoughtful response, complete with a plan for how I could achieve success in the future. Instead, Mr. Doak offered me a position as a Fall intern.
From there, things happened quickly. Regardless of the connection, I still underwent an interview and a writing test. I made it through the interview process, received the official offer and accepted it within two weeks. I chose to enroll into the Fulbright department’s internship course, secured my scholarships for my return and packed my bags. My mother and I drove across the country and I started at KDC on August 25, 2014.
I worked as a full-time intern for five months. I was praised, I was challenged and – I was adopted into the KDC family. Originally, I was set to be a part-time, unpaid intern. Because the company was overwhelmingly busy combined with the fact that I had uprooted my entire life, I was compensated for 30 hours a week. A typical workweek consisted of working in the office Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. I was glued to a computer, generating press materials like media alerts, press releases, clippings, entertainment listings and more. Additionally, I worked concerts and media moments on weeknights and some weekends. Now, do not get me wrong – Las Vegas is a magical city full of over-the-top celebration and endless indulgence. However, I took the opportunity seriously and chose to work in America’s playground. And yeah, yeah – I played a little.
Our clientele ranged from casino-resorts, bars and nightclubs to non-profits, travel companies, music festivals and more. Though every day felt like a fairytale, a few work run-ins stand out. My adventure began by staffing several concert series at REHAB, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s day club. Here, I escorted French Montana, Justin Bieber, 2 Chainz, Schoolboy Q, Selena Gomez, Jamie Foxx and Floyd Mayweather – among others. Further down the road, I helped kick off a nine-show residency for KISS, titled KISS Rocks Vegas. Our team arranged a helicopter arrival for the first show. One weekend, a few of us girls got together and headed to meet a co-worker atop The Palms, at the Ghost Bar Day Club. Will Smith’s son, D.J. Ace, was celebrating his birthday and performing all afternoon. Will and Jada Smith enjoyed themselves stage side. My world stood still as Will tapped me on the shoulder, motioned for me to come over and asked me if I would like a cheeseburger. I gladly accepted not one, but two cheeseburgers from Will Smith. My best Vegas friend, Emma, thanked him with a fist-bump. We are still trying to wake up from that dream.
Needless to say, my Las Vegas internship was everything I could have ever imagined and more. Beyond the glitz and the glam, I grew both as a young woman and a young professional. I found that there is more to life and certainly more to “Sin City.” Most importantly – I found the part of myself that I had been looking for. Since I initially got considered for the position via a family connection, I worked to prove that I deserved it. I strove to establish relationships with co-workers and clients on a deep and meaningful level, which happened naturally. I can confidently say that I accomplished what I set out to do. Clearly, the benefits outweighed the risk. With that, I urge each undergraduate to listen to the call of his or her heart. Day after day I reflect on my opportunity and thank myself for taking the risk.
For now, I am working on cranking out college hours and staying updated in the field of public relations. I would love to return to the outrageous lifestyle that is Las Vegas public relations, but typical me – my mind occasionally drifts to fresh alternatives. Now that I have a taste of agency public relations, I am somewhat interested in Los Angeles and possibly a little dose of in-house public relations. Thankfully, I have been blessed with extra time to plan for my future and embrace the sweet, sweet freedom of college. Woo Pig Sooie and Viva Las Vegas!