This morning, we have a special guest post from someone who’s become pretty indispensable to the Communications team here at Citrix: our intern, Olivia LaMar. She has much to say about life, work, and how to make the most of both. Take it away, Olivia! — MC

Sometimes, it’s hard to know what you want to be when you “grow up.”

With four years of junior college under my belt and a future in nursing (what had been my major for what seemed like an eternity) that I was unsure of, I realized I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew I couldn’t waste anymore time spinning my wheels.

So, I decided to do something about it.

First, I went to people who knew me well and asked them for their honest opinion about what they could see me doing. Time and again, I was told, “you’d be great in PR!” This seemed to be just about everyone’s feeling. I thought about it and said to myself, “These people are are onto something.”

I sat down and talked with people who were in public relations and began to get a picture of what a career in PR might look like. I was sold! I knew working in public relations was exactly what I wanted to do.

Then I realized I had—much to my chagrin—zero experience in anything even loosely related to PR. 

I had a resume heavily laden with entry-level positions in hospitality and healthcare, but none of my experience would help to even get my little toe (let alone my foot) in the door of anyone’s PR department.

I had always taken jobs that were flexible and that fit in with my school schedule, but I quickly saw that this might not have been the best idea. I began to see how accepting those positions—simply because they were convenient—had kept me from building the experience I really needed to help me on my career path. The lesson? I needed to create opportunities for myself.

Lots of people told me it’d be smart to have informational interviews with people with the sorts of jobs I wanted, but their advice ended there. I thought, “How do you move into your career field—when you have no experience—when all job listings say ‘experience required’?” 

The best advice I can give you is …

Make your own opportunities. Read those words over and over (and then read them once more, just for good measure).

Let me explain. No practical person on earth would have looked at my resume and think I was qualified for a PR internship, so I needed to identify what experience was missing and then figure out how to get it. I decided the path of least resistance was to take to social media.

Think about your Facebook friends and the things they do for a living. Are there any photographers? Maybe a coffee roaster or a midwife? Perhaps a dog walker or an artisan cupcake baker?

Good news, you just found your new boss! (Yes, my friends are in these professions and more, virtual workplaces for the win!)

I have a friend who does high-end event and wedding planning. Because she’s one half of a two-person team, she didn’t have any time to manage her social media presence during her busy season. When she mentioned this to me, I asked if I could spend some time each week helping her out.

She said YES! She sat down with me and showed me how she had been doing things—what she was doing on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and so on—and she listened to my ideas, too.

I built an editorial calendar for her blog, so I could write posts in advance. I read a lot of her old content, so I could get a feel for her tone and worked to adapt my writing style to be consistent with what she’d been doing. I spent time on Pinterest each week and read other blogs to make sure I knew what was trending and what other people in the event industry were talking about.

As I learned later, it turns out this an essential part of the approach to research before pitching press releases and writing blog posts. So, score!

These were all tasks I was familiar with, but didn’t have “experience” in. But I created this opportunity for myself, and suddenly, I did have the experience! 

Taking the time to try my hand at social media in this way was comfortable and done on my terms, and it also gave me some great new experience to include on my resume!

I had three interviews for internships this summer and, let me tell you, my experience as a “social media assistant” was the only thing I was asked about.

So, go to your friend, the midwife, or your neighbor who’s vying to be the next baker on Cupcake Wars; I’m sure they could use the extra help establishing a social presence and you could use the resume boost. It’s a win-win!

It doesn’t matter if it’s five or twenty hours per week; just be consistent and push yourself to take advantage of the opportunities that are right under your nose.

The opportunities are out there. You just have to create them.