Real work and real world experiences helped May graduate Lindsey von Gillern ‘13 land her first job this fall. Those experiences came in the form of five—yes, five—internships, one at the same company for which she now works in Raleigh, N.C.
“This is my time to explore,” she says. “I was open to going anywhere but wherever I’d ended up, I knew I could use the skills from my communications and business background.”
The Omaha native started that exploration four years ago. She planned to enroll at the University of Nebraska but after attending Scholar Day on the Central campus, meeting volleyball head coach Kent Clayberg and her soon-to-be volleyball teammates, she was “totally swayed.”
“My high school was twice the size of Central so my friends thought I was crazy for considering it,” von Gillern recalls. “It’s a small town but you have to look beyond the borders and get to know people before coming. The girls on the team impressed me with their drive and motivation. I’ve met my lifelong friends here.”
von Gillern found playing time on the volleyball team all four years as a back row specialist. Now she’s a retirement support services specialist for Principal Financial Group in Raleigh, where she is involved in event planning and presentations for corporate clients.
“I read somewhere to ‘major in what you love, minor in what you will use,’ and it’s so true. I am seeing the versatility of my liberal arts education,” says the communications studies major and business management minor.
“Central’s communications studies program is theory and analysis-based, with lots of application of writing skills and exposure to public speaking and presenting. The actual act of presenting really prepared me well, to have the practice and feel confident today.”
Her internships, she says, led her where she is today—summer internships with Vermeer, Pella Corp., and door-to-door sales in Omaha were followed by study-abroad work experience for a London chocolate company and at Principal Financial Group in Des Moines.
“My Principal internship was directly connected to my major. I was a marketing communications intern in Retirement Investor Services so I did lots of writing, editing and social media. The department hadn’t done much with social media on site so I helped to develop policy and guidelines, which was challenging because there are so many rules in a corporation about what can and cannot be done,” von Gillern relates. She learned of the Raleigh opening by remaining connected to the company’s online job postings.
“I can’t emphasize enough how important real work experience is in preparing to interview for that first job. Not everyone seeking employment out there is a new grad. Lots of people with experience are applying for jobs, too, so the more real world experience you have, the better.
“All of these Central internship experiences gave me an edge.”