How I Landed at Wray Ward: Tales of a Pandemic Job Search

  • Categories:

    Inspiration

  • Date:

    October 27, 2021

How I Landed at Wray Ward: Tales of a Pandemic Job Search



Inspiration

I’m a public relations/content coordinator at Wray Ward. As a member of our team of savvy storytellers, I spend my time supporting our clients’ needs across content marketing, public relations and social media. One day I’m conducting interviews and writing content for a client’s website, and the next I’m measuring earned media coverage and helping plan a social media giveaway.

It’s a dream position for a young postgrad with a media and journalism degree.

Although things have fallen into place for me, there is more to this story than meets the eye. In the days, weeks and months immediately after my graduation from the University of North Carolina, my heart sank every time I opened LinkedIn. My stomach dropped at the thought of writing another cover letter. Because for me, as for many of my class of 2020 peers, the postcollege job search followed a decidedly nonlinear path.

The COVID-19 Class

Quick flashback to spring 2020, the final semester of my senior year at UNC: Instead of soaking up special senior-year moments on campus, I was finishing my undergraduate degree completely online. While perhaps ready to leave behind the stress of exams and all-nighters spent staring at my laptop screen cranking out research papers, I was not quite prepared for the reality that awaited me after I crossed the (virtual) stage in May.

For background, I studied public relations and German at UNC. Seeking a fast-paced and collaborative work environment, I wanted to land an agency position after graduation. However, when the pandemic struck, strategic marketing and communication positions largely vanished, as many companies paused hiring while they got their bearings for doing business during a pandemic. I’d worked hard to get my ducks in a row, even scheduling an in-person visit to Wray Ward on March 18, 2020. Then, just a few days prior, my now teammates said, “Let’s reschedule this for when things get back to normal.” Little did we all know that day wouldn’t come for more than half a year.

Like many recent grads at a loss for promising leads, I moved back home with my parents. There, I spent hours perusing job boards while wondering how I could possibly find the right opportunity in the middle of such an uncertain period. For a while, I was hesitant to apply for positions outside of my chosen field of public relations, although I was even more fearful of the dreaded resume gap. Speaking for all students, it’s hard to cope when you have dreams and ambition and are scared to make a wrong move that may lead you away from those goals.

However, as the long days of stay-at-home orders dragged on, I began to realize that having the rest of my life to work on my career could be a good thing. It didn’t mean I had to be stuck wherever I started.

It meant I simply must start somewhere.

A Perfect Connection

Like many of my peers, I took temporary jobs during my search for full-time work. Among them? A communications internship at a nonprofit, bilingual preschool for low-income, Spanish-speaking families. I don’t even speak Spanish, but I do have a degree in German, some interest in dual-language education and a passion for nonprofit work. And while working with this organization in the summer of 2020, I learned a lot about the importance of dual-language education for Latinx families.

At the time, I had no idea that this experience would give me a leg up when Wray Ward called in November to ask if I was still interested in opportunities with the agency.

Around that time, Wray Ward had just selected its next crop of EmpoWWer service-grant recipients — three local nonprofit organizations the agency would support in 2021. Serendipitously, one of the organizations was Charlotte Bilingual Preschool. Sound familiar? Yep, this EmpoWWer recipient shared a lot of traits with the preschool for which I had interned over the summer. Wray Ward was looking for a coordinator to join their Charlotte Bilingual Preschool team, creating a true aligning of the stars for me. I attribute my ability to jump in on this account, and my determination to find work wherever possible during the pandemic, as big factors in Wray Ward’s decision to bring me onboard.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Walking into the office for the first time as part of the staff, I still found it hard to believe I had earned such a cool gig. I remember looking out over the Charlotte skyline and reflecting on the months of hard work devoted to my job search. Although I’d struggled to see a path forward at times, my persistence in the face of a difficult situation ultimately led to a happy ending. Today, I’m thankful to have landed my dream job at Wray Ward, the perfect-sized agency with an upbeat culture right in the heart of the city where I was born and raised.

My journey has taught me to expect and embrace even the most nonlinear paths to success. It has taught me to understand and appreciate my personal goals, even when they change. Today, I’m something of a jack-of-all-trades on a team that’s built to handle every challenge and every opportunity. Down the road, my balance of work may change, but I’m up for the unknown. That’s because I have a stellar team of thoughtful and creative folks supporting my growth, teaching me new skills and encouraging me in all kinds of new directions.

If you’re starting your own career (or quickly approaching graduation) and facing some of the same challenges, remember that it’s impossible to plan for all of the opportunities and roadblocks you’ll encounter. However, if your experience is anything like mine, I’m certain each new path will lead to an infinite number of possibilities. Hint: To help you get started, check out Wray Ward’s FORM internship, an eight-week, hands-on summer program that serves as the perfect introduction to agency life.

To all the other job seekers out there: Stay resilient! And if you’re interested in seeing where a journey with Wray Ward could take you, take a look at our open positions. I’m sure glad I did.

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