SH: I manage internal/external communications for several Weyerhaeuser businesses including Wood Products. I lead a small team to market our products, engage employees and build positive brand awareness.
CES: What would most surprise students about Weyerhaeuser’s organizational culture?
SH: We’re seeing more and more young people who bring a fresh perspective and new energy to the company, compared to when it used to be an older demograhic working here.
SH: I started as a two-month intern at Weyerhaeuser...and never left.
I was delighted to get my own business cards, which made me feel important and that they valued my contributions, even as a short-term intern.
Since then, I’ve had a steady stream of projects that have challenged me, taught me new skills and given me the opportunity to work with terrific people. The whole experience has exceeded expectations.
CES: What are the plusses and minuses of staying with one organization over a long period of time?
SH: Plus side: You are well known and people look out for you. You get a bit of a “license” to try new things. You get to really know the products, terminology, customers and people of the organization.
Minus side: Less visibility to different company cultures and ways of doing things. Less visibility to different industries (that would help me at trivia night). Easy to get into a work rut if you’re not regularly taking on new projects and looking for the next position.
CES: How did early jobs and experiences influence your career development? (part-time jobs on and off campus, internships, volunteer activities, campus clubs and involvements, study abroad, etc.)
SH: I worked in restaurants in high school and college summers, teaching me a lot about customer service and the importance of a consistent brand experience.
Working in the Writing Center for two years on campus helped me become a better writer and editor.
Classes helped me challenge thinking and become more articulate at sharing my opinions.
My volunteer activities taught me how to juggle lots of priorities.
Study abroad gave me a broad view of the world and a passion for travel (which makes it fun to travel for work, even to small rural towns).
And I got good guidance along the way from alums, friends and family who provided guidance at different decision points.
CES: How did you make the decision to pursue your current path? Were there pivotal moments?
SH: I liked a marketing class in school and I enjoyed writing so it seemed like Communications and Marketing were good career fields. It wasn’t until I started applying these skills to my job that I realized the great fit. ~No major “ah ha” moment but a steady confirmation that I’ve made wise choices.
SH: 1) The experiences (volunteer, study abroad, internships) were just as important as grades—if not more so.
2) I would have learned even more from professors and class speakers if I had taken more time to attend events and taken advantage of easy access to really smart people.
3) Identifying a specific major (and being focused on it) was less important than taking classes that would give me a range of experiences and grow my skills.
CES: Do you have any tips or resources you’d recommend to students looking for entry-level positions?
SH: Talk to people in the field to get their advice. Ask your friends doing similar work if they have suggestions how to get jobs like theirs (that’s how I found my first internship).
Basically, make sure everyone you know is aware that you’re looking for work. Clearly articulate what you want to be doing and for what type of company. The more specific you are, the greater your chances of finding the right fit.
CES: How can recent graduates overcome a lack of professional experience when applying for marketing/communications/PR positions?
SH: Tout your accomplishments doing marketing, fundraising and promotion of organizations that you volunteer for. Ask a business (any business) to let you develop a marketing or communications plan and then deliver it quickly (and well) so you have something for your portfolio.
Volunteer experiences and dealing with tough situations all can be used to answer the expected situational questions when you don't have the job experience. Demonstrate how your skills are transferrable.