Rachel White: Making it in the Big City

By: Kaitlyn Baase

Rachel White, a 2009 Ferris State PR graduate, spoke to PRSSA and AMA via Skype on Tuesday, October 4th about her success of following her dreams in Los Angeles.

As a freshman in the PR program, I was really excited to hear about how somebody followed their dreams and moved to a big city. I’ve heard stories of it, but never really believed it happened.

Rachel currently works at Edelman, one of the worlds largest PR firms. Previously, she has interned at VH1.

Before we spoke with Rachel, PRSSA and AMA had a chance to mingle and meet each other. It was nice to meet members from another business related club on campus.

After some technical difficulties, we finally got ahold of Rachel.

She began talking about her experience:

Rachel grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She attended Ferris State University as a Public Relations major from 2005-2009. A couple of days after graduation, she headed to Los Angeles with no job and an air mattress.

After getting settled in her terrible studio apartment, she began looking for a job in retail. After months of searching, White finally snagged an internship at Viacom as the press intern for VH1.

White worked with reality television shows such as Rock of Love, Eddie Griffin: Going for Broke, and Real Chance of Love. Rachel also attended Red Carpet events, had one on one time with entertainers, a lot of media writing and press material. She learned a lot about doing office work with her internship as well, such as payments and scheduling meetings.

White’s internship was finished in February of 2010. She began looking for a job in entertainment. Rachel said it was very challenging to find a job in entertainment.

“If you don’t know the right people, you’re going to start at the bottom and wasting your time,” she said

What she said really clicked with me. You really have to know the right people. Our advisor talked to us about using social media websites, like twitter, to get connections.

Eventually, White landed an internship with Edelman, one of the largest PR firms in the world. With her internship, she was able to work with a lot of clients, such as Starbucks, XBOX, Experian, and Volkswagen. White said it was great for her career because she got to work with huge clients at such a young age.

After five months of working at Edelman, Rachel was offered a position as an Assistant Account Executive.

“Putting enthusiasm and tenacity into your work is how you’re going to get hired,” Rachel said. “Clients want to see that you’re happy working for them.”

Rachel thinks that one of the things that has translated to success for her was having a business background in PR.

“People were surprised that I had a business background.” She said.

A lot of the Account Executives she worked with went back to school for an extra two years because they didn’t have the business background that she had.

“I took nine PR courses in college, where others one to two: some didn’t even take any”

When I heard this, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that she had taken that many more PR courses than her co-workers.

Rachel said to take advantage of business courses and classes that will get your writing skills at an agency level. She also told us that stress and time management are important. She said there is no room to get stressed at a career, there’s no time.

Rachel’s story was really inspiring. Listening to her made me feel like I really could accomplish a lot. She made me feel confident about my education at Ferris.

White’s biggest piece of advice:

“Don’t sell yourself short; it’s a smaller school in a smaller city, but don’t think you can’t go out and move to LA. If you work hard and show people you’re excited about what you do, it can take you a long way.”

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About ferrisprssa

We speak the truth with compassion. We embrace diversity in all forms. We are innovative, creative, upbeat and engaged. We are the Ferris State University PRSSA Chapter! Our student-run PR firm gives students outstanding hands-on experience and professional training.
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