Madisen Ray Petrosky: succeeding with “a positive attitude and a well-written sentence”

Madisen Ray Petrosky graduated from BSU with a BA in English Literature in 2011. After attending the University of Denver Publishing Institute in 2012, she started a career in social media management and nonprofit marketing. She’s managed #GivingTuesday campaigns, website redesigns, and lots of hashtag holidays. She recently took a position in Public Relations. In this blog post, she recounts her journey from an internship to her first job to her exciting new position. And she highlights how her education in English was crucial at every step.

“You do you.” It’s often a throwaway line on social media, but what better way to succinctly affirm individuals who are doing what they love because they love it?

The last time I wrote for the Ball State English Blog was the winter of 2012. I had recently attended the University of Denver Publishing Institute and hoped to go into publishing as an editor or marketer. As optimistic as I was at the time, I knew I needed more experience.

In January 2013, I started a marketing internship at a law firm in downtown Indianapolis. Five months there gave me a crash course in email etiquette, how to navigate an office, and what it’s like to commute in every weather scenario the Midwest can throw at you. I also realized that I didn’t want to move to New York just to enter the publishing industry when I could do a lot of what I enjoyed – writing, researching, posting on social media – right here in Indy. (A trip to NYC a couple years later that laid me out with the flu confirmed that New York is a fun place to visit, but not somewhere I want to live.)

Towards the end of my internship, I interviewed for a marketing coordinator position with Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation. The job description seemed ideal: strong written and verbal communication skills, experience with social media and website management, and knowledge of Greek life, which I had as a previous Sigma Kappa at Ball State. After a short interview process, I was delighted to be offered the job on the second-to-last-day of my internship. I enthusiastically accepted (which is a low-key way of saying I jumped up and down in my tiny apartment and called my mom, screaming).

When I started at Theta Foundation in June of 2013, I had no idea that I was beginning an incredible four-year journey that would teach me so much – and see me rely on what I learned from Ball State so often.

Project management was a huge aspect of my job at Theta Foundation. Coordinating multiple vendors when designing, printing, and mailing an annual report, or being part of a multi-member team designing a website from scratch–these projects require keeping tabs on the project, the deadlines, and how you can ferry it along. I didn’t always love group projects at Ball State, but unless you work in an office of one, most of what you do will be a group project. You’ll learn quickly that not asking for help when you need it or trying to do too much yourself can be detrimental to your mental health and your career.

In four years of working with incredible individuals at Theta Foundation, I began to think about what was next. I could write about nearly every aspect of Theta Foundation in my sleep, and as comforting as that was, it was time to infuse some variety into my daily work. After having dinner with a friend who worked at a public relations agency, I started to think about working in an agency environment.

No matter what type of agency you work in, there are a few things I can guarantee: it’s going to be a lot of work, you’re going to be busy, and you’re never going to be bored. I was ready for that next step. After submitting my writing samples and navigating the interview process, I was thrilled to accept an account executive position at Dittoe Public Relations in September of 2017.

Now you may be thinking, “Ball State has a public relations major. Shouldn’t you be a PR major if you want to work in PR?” I wondered that myself and said so during my interview. But my interviewer, now my office mentor (and a fellow Ball State grad), said to me: “We can teach you the techniques and the tools used during PR, but the most important skill you’ll use every day is writing.” And writing is something I can do thanks to my English degree.

In addition to writing everything from media pitches to press releases to technical articles, I do a lot of research to be able to write all those items. Being on four account teams for four clients in four different industries, I don’t always know the nuances of the subjects I’m writing about. As was true in Ball State classes or my internship, being able to take a deep dive into a new subject then distill that information succinctly is a vital skill.

Time management and structuring my days are two skills I learned at BSU that I’ve relied on most in my change from Theta Foundation to Dittoe. At Theta Foundation, everything I did was for and about Theta Foundation – every email I sent, blog post I wrote, file I sorted, or brainstorm session I was a part of was for Theta Foundation. But at Dittoe, because it’s an agency, everything I do is divided between four clients and Dittoe itself. You have to able to structure your day, switch tasks – or buckle down – as needed, and have a great attitude during it all. A positive attitude and a well-written sentence will get you far.

I didn’t expect my career would lead me to PR, but I’m completely enamored with it. It takes everything I love about marketing and social media and adds a renewed focus on writing and digging in to my local community. Every single day is different and keeps me on my toes. My English degree gave me the tools to succeed in PR, and I’m delighted that I can be a part of the Dittoe PR team today.

I’m doing me with my English degree. You do you.

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