How a First-Gen Student Navigates Post-Grad

By Lauren Ruiz, Intern

Lauren Ruiz graduation picture

As a first-generation college student, I dove into college with no prior knowledge about what it consisted of before, during or after. Looking back, I am so incredibly grateful for pushing myself and breaking generational curses in my family.

Now that my time at the University of Oregon slowly comes to an end, I realize I am starting a new chapter in my life. This chapter is one I’m dreading because of all the goodbyes I have to say to individuals, events, lessons and experiences. Of all the doors I’ve had to close in my life, this one by far is the hardest.

With an increasing amount of anxiety overwhelming me about my post-grad future, I knew I had one source of inspiration and motivation in my life to keep me sane and inspired: The Hoffman Agency.

Interning at Hoffman has given me the chance to become a first-generation professional, which is something I will forever be grateful for. I have had so many incredible experiences as an intern with Hoffman. My favorite one is working alongside motivating co-workers who genuinely want to see me thrive in my endeavors.

Being a part of this agency means I am a part of a close-knit family who is interested in the ideas I bring to the table. I am also surrounded by driven individuals who offer a helping hand at every level. I can honestly say I have never been denied help or felt forgotten as an entry-level individual, which is what most interns fear when starting a new position. The sense of belongingness is my favorite part of interning at Hoffman.

I have learned an abundance of lessons here at Hoffman. As an intern, I’ve learned proper time-management skills, become familiar with Excel, Word, Teams, etc., practiced effective communication and problem-solving skills, and become more flexible.

Something that surprised me about the PR industry, is how fast-paced it is. Deadlines drive this industry. I know for others this may not be ideal, but personally, it keeps me motivated to always stay on my toes. I never know what the next day brings.

Another trait I love about PR is how I’m able to work with so many different types of people. The diversity of colleagues in this industry is one of my favorite aspects of PR. Having the ability to work with individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds is enriching, and for this I am grateful.

“Be fearless, be honest and be vulnerable” are wise words I was once told when I first started interning.

And were those words so right!

Being vulnerable in the workplace is something that we are not taught in school. As I transition from the academic world into the professional world, I have never felt something to be as relevant. A task as simple and mundane as asking my team, “When do you need this?” is a perfect example of being vulnerable.

Many interns who are just starting out feel ashamed and scared to ask questions like these because of how new and inexperienced we are. Being told it was OK to be vulnerable and ask those simple questions was the best advice I’d ever received.

I will continue expressing this idea to others. Ask questions. Ask. Ask. Ask away until you can’t anymore. If someone makes you feel embarrassed or ashamed of your question, that’s on them. Any professional in this industry knows the immense courage it takes for entry-level individuals to simply ask a question and would never exploit that.

A true PR professional is willing to offer a helping hand no matter what your level of experience is; they were once beginning their PR journey just like you are.

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