Southeast Alumna Uses Internships to Open Doors
College of Liberal Arts - Mass Communication
Nichole Holzum says the secret to a successful life is the ability to adapt.
“As easy as it sounds, learning to adapt is very difficult,” she says.
Nichole, a native of Jackson, Mo., learned the importance of adaptability during her time at Southeast. In school she was focused, fast and always running full blast.
She graduated in December 2009 after only three and a half years with a bachelor of science in mass communication. In addition to her aggressive academic schedule, Nichole worked an average of 32 hours per week and still made time to be active in a variety of on-campus organizations.
Even with her jam-packed schedule at school, Nichole still found the time to participate in an internship. Since graduation she has completed two more and has recently accepted another.
It is her work at these internships that have convinced her that “being ready for anything,” is incredibly important.
Nichole’s first internship with University Directories in the spring of 2009 taught her “that sales was not the direction for me to venture into,” she says.
Her work with NIKE, this past summer helped her “get on the map. I learned more about myself than I did professionally. I really am just beginning my professional journey,” she said.
It was her internship with the Maryland Heights (Mo.) Chamber of Commerce that she says has taught her the most.
“I have met more contacts in a month, than in my entire college career,” she said. “I spent most days working on different aspects of events from designing marketing pieces to contributing ideas. I did a lot of polishing of many different skills because of the Chamber”
In January 2011, Nichole will start what could prove to be her most challenging internship. During her time at the Advertising Research Foundation in New York City, she will be working two internships at once. As a member of the Events staff and the Counsel office, she will have a much wider variety of task and duties than in her previous internships.
“I will be planning and partaking in huge events such as Ad Week while also planning business meetings,” she said. “This should open so many doors for me.”
The adaptability, she stresses, wasn’t all learned from the variety of work she completed during her internships.
“For a week, I had all of my stuff packed and ready to go. I had an offer from St. Louis, but was waiting to hear back from New York. I knew I was leaving, but I didn’t know to where. That was difficult,” she says. “When I got to St. Louis I moved in with three strangers, all foreign. I had to quickly learn to adapt. I have never had a lot of experience working or living with people whose first language is not English. It was a difficult task.”
Nichole says her education at Southeast helped prepare her for the difficult situations she’s faced.
“The professors at Southeast spent most of their time preparing students for what to expect,” she said. “Mr. (Michael) Simmons always had some sort of advice, whether it was about life or just professional advice.”
Nichole was recently asked to speak at Southeast’s “Insight to Interns” program.
She says, “I chose to speak because when I was a student, I was constantly looking for insight into different aspects of what my future could hold. I had the privilege of attending when in school, so why not give back? I had learned a lot over the years and wished someone would have given me the knowledge I have now, back then.”
When asked about other advice she would offer students, Nichole reiterates the advice of her former professor Michael Simmons.
“Be nice to the receptionist; it’s your ticket to the person you want to speak with,” she said. “They can either make it impossible or impeccably easy.”