Priscilla Koeckeritz


No posts found.
  • All
  • Internships
  • College
  • Career Path
  • Job Experience
  • Teaching
  • All
  • Internships
  • College
  • Career Path
  • Job Experience
  • Teaching
How did you find internships when you were in college?

I built a very strong relationship with my advisor, plus a professor in my program who had numerous professional connections (he had been an adjunct for many years while working full time in radio). Mentors and connections are essential for finding and landing internships – especially paid internships. My radio professor freelanced with a local society newspaper and convinced the editor to bring me on as their first ever intern my senior year.

What was the best thing you took away from an internship?

Being treated like a professional, not a student, was a good change for me. The editor I worked for in my internship had very high expectations and would not do the work for me. My first month I wrote classified ads and obituaries – and I re-wrote them several times until I met my editor’s standards. Being expected to turn out professional level work was really good for me, and ultimately it helped me to set and maintain high standards for those who have worked for me, and with me, over the years.

About how many internships do you believe a student should complete over the course of their time at college?

At least one professional internship is essential, ideally two. For me, I worked full time as editor of our college newspaper my senior year in lieu of a second professional internship. The business lessons I learned in managing that team and newspaper provided me my greatest internship level experience.

Did any of your internships result in jobs after college?

Ultimately, my advisor helped me get my first and second jobs. He learned of opportunities through his network that he believed were a good fit and proactively recommended me. I networked my way into my first three jobs. It wasn’t until my fourth job that I had to conduct my own search, and by then I had learned the art (and rewards) of being connected.

Do you have any internships available?

I currently work with a variety of clients who should bring on interns, and two who will add interns in the coming months. I encourage my students, and other young professionals I meet, to connect with me on LinkedIn and look through my network for people they would like to meet. Whether it yields an internship now, or a connection to a job in the years to come, networking will never hurt you.

What was your major, while you attended college?

Like many young people, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do career-wise. I began as an architectural engineering major (but didn’t like math), business always interested me (but I didn’t like accounting), I briefly considered becoming a lawyer (but that was a very big commitment to school), and ultimately I started writing a feature article for my college newspaper and realized I loved communications. Putting together thoughts in ways that impact others became a passion.

Did you feel successful in your college career?

At first, I was just okay – I wasn’t a stellar college student because I was often bored during my general education classes. However, once I found my passion for writing and communications, I became very engaged and much more productive. And I had a mentor and advisor who saw my potential and pushed me – which is exactly what I needed.

What was your favorite class in college?

I can’t say I had a favorite class, as much as I was able to use many of my writing classes in my favorite work – our college newspaper. I started as a writer, became features editor, and my senior year was the editor-in-chief. My organizational communications class and editing classes really paid off.

What achievements were your proud of in your college career?

I’m most proud of being editor of my college paper, and ultimately graduating as the outstanding senior in journalism. Through my advisors I was also able to find a professional internship and before I graduated was a published journalist.

What were your biggest stress points during college?

Like many college students, I was paying my own way. Besides taking out loans and working on campus, I held an additional job for spending money. Balancing work and school together made for a lot of late nights, and the occasional all-nighter. It also helped me to value my education and each opportunity.

How did you decide what career you wanted to pursue after school?

It’s funny to look back at how my career started and see how I’ve come full circle. My first full time position was actually as an adjunct professor. I taught for three years before I decided to leave teaching for a time to get what I believed was most valuable – professional, real-world experience. After that, I worked a variety of positions in advertising, marketing and design production – which I really enjoyed. I’m not sure that’s what I had planned, but it used my writing and communication talent and in the process I picked up other knowledge and skills that I’ve used throughout my career – including in my adjunct teaching efforts today.

Did you complete any useful interest inventories to determine your career?

I love to learn about myself and have taken a variety of skills and behavioral assessments. One of the most impactful though is Gallup’s CliftonStrengthsFinder. It’s a talents and strengths assessment that helps you identify your talents and use them as strengths. I’ve even used it recently with my Interpersonal Communication class at North Central University. Here’s a link that shares what it’s all about:

Did you view college as a necessary investment for your career path?

Yes – absolutely. College was a valuable stepping-stone to my professional career. I will say though that you get out of college what you’re willing to put in. If you choose to slide by and do the minimum, you will get the minimum out, but if you apply yourself and make lasting connections it will serve you well. Plus, most of the jobs I’ve held required a degree.

Did any of your professors influence your eventual career path?

Yes, two of my professors were instrumental not only in helping me clarify my major and find my internships but helped me network into my first three jobs. They inspired me to be the type of professor I am today – one who cares not only about the subject matter at hand, but about the people, the students.

How many professors did you use as references, while applying for jobs?

When I built my first post-college professional resume, two of my professors were on my reference list, plus two contacts from my internship.

Any pointers for job interviews?

How you show up matters – both in how you dress and how you present yourself. I benefitted from attending a private Christian university with a pretty strict dress code because I had a professional wardrobe when I graduated. Additionally, my mentors had instilled in me solid professional etiquette.   When I interview people today, I expect young people to show some nerves – that’s normal. I pay attention to how they dress and the words they use (by the way, “like” is a very annoying space-filler). I listen to what they already know about the company and learn whether they did any research (search the website and know the basics – construct a few questions for the interview that show what you know and demonstrate curiosity about specifics). Ultimately, I’m interested in learning their aspirations and how interested and committed they are to the job and industry (I like to hire people who have room to grow and want to learn).

What did you learn was different in the job field than what you learned in College?

College is like pre-season training – you go through all the drills and learn the plays. When you get your first job, you put all that training to work, and quickly learn that no amount of preparation will entirely prepare you for what’s next. When you get a job, it’s time to practice your skills in real-time and learn new things at a much more rapid pace than anything a professor put you though.

Who was an instrumental mentor to you in your first job?

I’m going to talk about my boss and mentor in my second professional (non-teaching) job. It was my first marketing position and I had moved into a role where I had a lot to learn. Plus, I worked for a medical manufacturing company which was totally new territory. When I asked questions, and I had a ton of them, my boss would hand me a sell sheet, or direct me to an industry publication. He encouraged me to talk to others in the company and ask them questions. It was never that he didn’t have the answers, but he wanted to teach me a greater lesson – how to find answers myself.

Have you ever been let go unexpectedly?

Yes – and it sucks. It doesn’t matter if you are young and early in your career, or higher up in the food chain, when your job ends unexpectedly it shakes the very ground you walk on. Whether it’s a layoff situation or you and your boss reach irreconcilable differences – an unexpected change will leave you questioning your purpose.

How do you handle job transitions?

Embrace the change. Recognize the opportunity to renew your sense of purpose. Determine to chase opportunities that will challenge you in new and different ways. And by all means, find ways to stay engaged while you are searching for your next opportunity. You never know what opportunity will fall into your lap as you reconnect with old friends, have lunch with professional acquaintances and simply find ways to keep busy. In fact, I’m teaching at North Central as an adjunct as the result of a job transition … and I can’t imagine not teaching part time as part of the next phase of my career.

Have you personally mentored any students?

Early in my career, while teaching full time, I carried an advisory load of 10-15 students – many of which have gone on to do some pretty amazing things. I feel privileged to have been an influence – however small. Throughout my professional career I have looked for ways to help graduating college students take their first career steps and being a helping hand still energizes me today. I especially enjoy challenging the thinking of young professionals. It’s an amazing moment when they are faced with a problem, and with a little guidance they overcome their obstacles. It’s like a lightbulb turning on, and it’s rewarding for both of us.

What is your favorite topic to teach about?

I love anything that has applicability to marketing, communication or business – especially classes that challenge me to continue to grow and develop as a professional while I help students learn new skills. I enjoy helping young people learn to communicate – in writing, public speaking and other creative ways. There’s something powerful about turning a classroom into a practical learning environment. Most of what I know today, I learned by doing (not in a classroom). As a professor, I believe its my job to open students minds to the process of learning, and to encourage them to exercise their own mental muscle.

Did you ever see yourself as a teacher when you were younger?

No – it was not in my life plan. My first opportunity to teach came out of the blue right after I graduated college. In fact, I had to start grad school two days after my graduation in order to get enough credits taken to start teaching at the university that fall. I actually took the job as a favor to my advisor and mentor who absolutely meant the world to me figuring I’d teach for a year and then move on. It was a heart-wrenching decision to leave teaching three years later, but I felt it was time to spread my wings professionally and get some “real world” experience. Once I left, I knew one day I would come back to the classroom. Teaching is a most rewarding experience.

Scroll to Top