The impact of ColorComm on my career journey

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ColorComm has had an impact on my professional career and I haven’t even graduated from Howard University yet. The influential people that I met while volunteering for ColorComm’s holiday happy hour in December 2012 has played such a big role in my life in just one year. From expanding my network to getting professional development opportunities, my brief involvement with ColorComm has given me a prime example of the value of joining professional organizations.

I got the opportunity to be a volunteer from Chole Louvouezo, a Howard grad who started SoGo Communications, a socially-responsible boutique PR firm. She was a former student of my professor, Dr. Dionne Clemmons and she came to speak to our PR Writing I class about her career journey and offer advice about the communications industry. I followed up with Chole because I have a similar passion for giving social good a public platform. And soon after she asked me if I was available to be the check-in volunteer for ColorComm’s event. I accepted graciously because I knew it would be a great networking opportunity but I didn’t know how great of an opportunity it would be and how it would put my communications career on track.

The first opportunity that I had was meeting the founder of ColorComm, Lauren Wesley Wilson. It would have been incredible to network with the directors of the chapters, but it was a blessing to meet the mastermind behind the organization. Lauren gave me her contact information after the event was over and I followed up with her while I was studying abroad in London.  Unbeknownst to her, she has become one my professional inspirations because she gave me a visual of what I can amount to with a college education, incredible work ethic and passion for PR.

Another opportunity that I had through this experience was meeting a woman that would gradually become my mentor. I wanted to have a professional mentor for some time but I didn’t meet anyone who would commit to taking me under their wing or who offered to build that relationship. I heard of mentor programs, where people are placed together based on similarities, but I knew that letting the relationship occur organically would be the most rewarding.

I must admit, while I was volunteering I was afraid to network with people. This was my first real networking event and as a junior in college who is introverted, I was afraid to go up to people. I knew that they were humans too and were there to network as well, but it was a daunting task to walk up to them and introduce myself.  When I finally got the courage to leave my volunteer station, I nervously walked up to a woman who I remembered worked at the College Board. After doing my elevator pitch, she mentioned that she went to Hampton, which is Howard’s rival school and the ongoing friendly debate of which school is the Real HU broke the ice. I got a great vibe from her and realized that networking wasn’t as hard as I thought.

Tiffani Haynes would go on to be another woman in communications that I admired. She gradually became my unofficial mentor throughout the first half of 2013 as she gave me career advice and guidance and kept her eye out for internships that I could apply for. It began so naturally, and I finally mustered up the courage to ask her to be my official mentor in July. One of the best things about our mentorship is that she gives me an idea of what I could be like in a few years. She is a young communications professional living in DC that is still finding her way. That was exactly what I needed. Through her honesty and willingness to help, I knew that as she was climbing up her staircase to success, she would pull me up with her. She has been an incredible mentor thus far and I am thankful to have someone who will offer honesty in the purest form and who genuinely wants to see me succeed.

Through volunteering with ColorComm, I also met a woman named Shevaun McGlone who was the Chair of PR & Marketing for Queen to Queen, Inc., a nonprofit that unites current and former HBCU Queens and African American professionals. Since January I expanded my communications experience by tweeting for Q2Q, blogging about my study abroad experience, writing press releases for their events and helping reach out to current Queens to get involved with their 2nd annual Ladies in Waiting conference. Helping with PR for a nonprofit has been an incredible experience because I had the opportunity to work on so many different aspects of PR – from event planning to social media to community outreach.

I never thought that one night of volunteering at a holiday happy hour would have such a large impact on my career journey. But I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from such inspirational and driven African American women in the communications industry.

Thank you ColorComm.

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