Starting a Career in Communications: Reflections on My First Industry Position

by: Sid Boegman, ZINC Intern

Starting a career feels like walking for the first time. It’s a daunting process, but eventually those uncertain steps become familiar enough that the motion is muscle-memory.

This past summer, I took my first steps at ZINC Strategies, where I had the pleasure of working as an intern. Before I started, I was incredibly excited. This was the first time I was going to be working in the communications industry – the professional arena where I hope to build a long-lasting career. I couldn’t wait to learn from my colleagues’ expertise and to begin building a solid foundation of experience. Excitement aside, I was also nervous. I worried that I would fail horribly, and I stressed over the possibility that I’d realize I actually hated working in communications.

Thankfully, my fears had no basis in reality. At ZINC, I found a group of motivated and intelligent people who were invigorating to be around. I was fortunate to be guided through this experience by some excellent mentors, who I could always trust to assess my performance honestly and inspire me to strive for excellence. I also had the privilege of spearheading two specific projects: a charitable outreach initiative called ZINC Gives Back, and ZINCTANK, the page you’re reading this on today. While working on these projects, I improved my critical thinking and analytical skills.

Coming from a university background, the biggest adjustment I had to make was adapting to working full-time in an office environment. While hard work and time management skills are essential at university, I learned that working in an office full-time requires a different form of discipline. For example, if I accidentally sleep in while I’m at university, I probably won’t have any major repercussions. If the same thing had happened while I was working, it would be a different story. In a professional setting, I was held accountable to my supervisors and colleagues in terms of how I spent my time and how well I accomplished my work.

The time I spent at ZINC allowed me to better understand many different issues at the hearts of communities and to see the importance of engaging with people in them. Ultimately, I loved how working at ZINC made me feel like I was making a tangible difference in the lives of real people. This desire to find work that is meaningful is something I will carry with me as I continue in my career.

If, like me, you’re just taking your first steps into your professional career, know that your hard work will absolutely be worth it. If you’ve already spent some time walking, know that those learning from you will be grateful for your perspective and your guidance.