By Terrin Bates
In the 12 years she has spent finding a career, alumna Amanda Atkins has always kept one thing in mind: your career should be the love of your life. She shared this piece of advice and much more when she visited BGSU on April 7 and spoke to a group of journalism and public relations students.
Head of Digital Communications at Gap, Inc., in San Francisco, Atkins described her journey from college to career as “twisting and full of lessons.” After graduating from BGSU in 2003 with a degree in print journalism, she ended up in a field that wasn’t related to her major. She took an internship at Owens Corning in Toledo as an internal communications specialist.
“It was really the right job for me at that time because I was still figuring out what I’m good at,” she said.
After four years at Owens Corning, Atkins decided it was time to move on and figure out the next step in finding her career.
“I was ready to start digging into that other half of the equation and figuring out what I love and how to put those things together,” she said.
There was a common theme of loving your career heard throughout Atkins’ speech, and she broke it down in three key steps: marry what you’re good at with what you love, embrace what scares you, and build the best relationships. With each step, Atkins shared anecdotes and offered helpful advice on how to grow as a person while searching for professional success.
“Embracing what scares you might be speaking up in a meeting and sharing your idea with confidence,” she said. “It might be volunteering to lead a project when you’ve never done that kind of work before. It might be moving into a new industry because you know the one you’re in isn’t the right fit for you anymore.”
Atkins also urged students not to be afraid of the idea of moving to a different city, because it can be beneficial to your career.
“I can’t emphasize enough the power of experiencing living in different places,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be permanent. You can always move back, and you can always move somewhere different, but it’s a really powerful thing to experience.”
Atkins knows a thing or two about living in different locations and broadening your horizons. She and her husband, Jeff, also a fellow Falcon, have resided in South Carolina, Columbus, Ohio, and Boston, before finally relocating to San Francisco.
“Don’t be afraid to move,” she encouraged. “The world is large and complex, it’s so full of opportunity, so full of things to learn.”
Toward the end of her speech, Atkins focused more on personal development and building relationships. She mentioned that it’s great to achieve success on your own, but forming bonds, both personal and professional, can get you farther in your career.
“You are going to encounter hundreds, if not thousands, of people throughout the pursuit of your career and you never know who’s going to be the one to teach you something new,” she said. “You never know who might end up being a treasured mentor, who might be the key to getting your dream job, and you never know who might end up being your best friend.”
Through personal stories about making friends and partners in the work force, Atkins inspired students to be their authentic selves and always have a positive outlook toward others.
Miranda Gilmer, a sophomore studying public relations, said Atkins’ speech was inspiring and gave her the motivation she needs for her career pursuits.
“She gave me a lot to think about,” Gilmer said. “I learned that in order to be successful and do what you want to do, you have to make it happen for yourself even if it scares you.”
Alexus Horn, another sophomore majoring in public relations, said she enjoyed the speech and thinks more people like Atkins should come to BGSU and share their experiences.
“I loved her stories,” she said. “I could really relate to her and her situations. Her overall vibe was informative, but warm. She made me less nervous about what I want to do with my career.”
Atkins ended her speech on a very honest note. She mentioned not everything in your career will remain constant and that change can be a good thing.
“Sometimes you’re going to fall in and out of love with your career, and that’s okay,” she said. “When you find the balance that fits you, it’s going to be a lot easier to get up out of bed every morning and you’re going to love your life more overall.”