Professional Writing alumna Emily Reyst ’17 was still an intern at the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing when the executive director sent a job posting her way. The position was everything she was hoping for post-graduation, so she applied. Before earning her bachelor’s in May, she had the position secured and is now the communications and training associate for the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM).
Most of CEDAM’s members work in affordable housing or financial empowerment and strive to make their communities stronger and more vibrant. Emily focuses on communicating with and providing technical assistance to the association’s members. She sends out monthly newsletters and funding updates so that they are made aware of deadlines for grants that are open to them. She also focuses on marketing for events, managing social media, and writing and editing blog content, all the while managing a content schedule. In addition, she puts on conferences, workshops, and webinars on different skills and topics that could be useful to members.
From left to right: Camille Allen, Emily Reyst, and Meghan Kuhr
“I do feel like I’m in a fulfilling job,” Emily says. “I go into work every day knowing that I’m working for an organization that cares about the community and is taking what resources we have and pouring them into the local community. It definitely helps you get out of bed every day.”
While still a student at MSU, Emily balanced multiple positions both on and off campus. She started as a Sparty’s barista before working her way up to be the hiring manager where she oversaw hiring operations for retail services and marketing. She was also a communications intern at the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing from her sophomore year all the way up to graduation. As an intern, Emily wrote appeal letters and blog posts, ran social media, fundraised, attended events, and assisted clients with professional development. She also held a marketing and communications internship at the Broad College of Business and went on to be a content strategy intern at Matter of Form while on a study abroad program in London. All the while, she was earning her PW degree on the editing and publishing track.
“Being able to articulate what our program does for us, and all my internship experiences, all those things on top of each other definitely helped me get this position,” says Emily. “Yes, the classes that we take are relevant and adaptable to the real world. It’s just an adaptable major and there are so many skills that apply to positions [in which] you need to play many roles.”
Emily knew what she wanted to get out of her internships, and she knew she had to make the most of every opportunity. Now, she’s doing her best to give those kinds of opportunities to others. Last fall, she hired two PW students, senior (now alumna) Meghan Kuhr and sophomore Camille Allen, to serve as interns at CEDAM.
“I have that frame of mind that I want to be able to give them the experience that I had with some of my internships and be able to give them projects that I know will help them when they’re searching for jobs,” Emily says.
PWer Meghan Kuhr says that she has learned more from Emily during this internship than she has from any other supervisor she’s ever had. “I’ve never been thrown in an environment where I’m contributing tangible content that is significant and representative of the brand at the place I work right off the bat,” Meghan says. “[Emily] definitely lives up to her title as a communications associate. She’s great with people. She’s a patient and understanding mentor.”
Sophomore Camille Allen wanted firsthand experience of where her PW degree could take her, and eagerly applied when she found out that an alumna might be her supervisor. Now, she’s getting useful, real-world experience in the nonprofit sector. “I love working with [Emily],” she says. “She is so willing to offer help and advice and has great energy. She has also made this internship a very inclusive experience by letting us participate in meaningful work, such as the blog and other projects the organization is working on, not just make-work around the office.”
Having earned her degree and a secured position before graduation, Emily Reyst now has some hard-won wisdom to share with PW students who are about to launch themselves into the workforce. “Definitely make the most out of your internships and be proactive about voicing what you want to get out of them,” she says. “Don’t freak out. A lot of people freak out when they’re looking for jobs and that does nothing positive to help you. It’s going to be a stressful time, so do what you need to do. Apply for jobs, make connections. Take care of yourself, but don’t make it more stressful than it is.”
Written by Kaitlin Dudlets
Photo by Kaitlin Dudlets