Rachel Carver, APR, on Hard Work and Determination
Senior Public Relations Specialist, Outlook Business Solutions
Helped organize and execute Outlook Nebraska’s 2017 VIP ribbon- cutting event and open house, showcasing the facility’s capacity to provide adaptive technology training to the blind and visually impaired; graduated from the National Industries for the Blind’s Advocates Program
Early career aspirations:
I wanted to be a newspaper reporter
Favorite downtime activity:
Football, spending time with family, watching a good show
Preferred news sources:
I read The Daily Dispatch and listen to the radio for local headlines. I try to keep updated on trends as well for work.
Best leadership advice:
“Listen to your people.”
At what point did you decide to work in public relations?
A I finished college at Buena Vista University a semester early in December 2008. The economy was in the tank, and it was hard for every college graduate to find a job, let alone a blind one.
I applied at several newspapers and got nowhere. So, I branched out and started looking at communications and public relations. I realized I could use my writing skills to help tell the stories of others when I learned about the position with Outlook Business Solutions.
Is there a typical workday for you?
Not really. Days vary a lot depend- ing on what is going on. I could spend one day writing an appeal letter, the next working on a government af- fairs initiative, and the next on a market- ing plan. It depends on the time of year and also what our clients need from us.
As the pandemic took hold in March, many workers around the country started working from home. What was your situation?
I was sitting in my office on a Thursday in March, listening to the news of the number of coronavirus cases rising. I was in the process of making the decision to pull my son Daniel out of preschool, which we ended up doing. A companywide email arrived later stating that, until further notice, everyone who can work remotely will.
What were some of the initial obstacles with remote work?I didn’t have a home office. I used the kitchen table when I previous- ly worked from home. It didn’t matter [then] because no one else was there.
But when [the lockdowns began and] my son started staying home, for a few days, I was making it work at the kitchen table and then I said, “I can’t.” We have a three-bedroom house. The third bedroom was our guest room/storage room, so I organized that space and it became my home office.
Now, I have a nice [home office] set-up. We still have the bed frame, but took it apart. If I have the camera on during a Zoom meeting, you get a nice shot of a mattress leaning against the wall!
You became Accredited in Public Relations in 2017. What initially inspired you to pursue this?
I wanted to enhance my knowledge of the world of public relations. I spent the first part of my career learning in the field, and that dedication to professional development helps us all grow. In addition to receiving coaching from my marketing director and our PR firm, I wanted to gain an understanding of an effective process used by practitioners across the country for years.
I also hoped to advance in my career. My APR certification demonstrated my understanding of best practices of the PR profession in my own job responsibilities. I believe that going through this process helped me move my career to where it is now.
Because I did not take PR courses in my undergraduate work, I did not have a foundation of PR principles. This pro- cess shifted my thinking and planning abilities to a more strategic approach. I hope to never stop learning, and I will always surround myself with individuals I can learn from.
In previous interviews, you’ve said that you needed to work a little harder than your classmates and peers. Where does your grit and determination come from?
AI guess part of it comes from being told by others that you can’t do something or having people doubt your abilities. I had a classmate once tell me my grades were good because I did not have to work as hard as others. This was completely untrue, but after that, I was determined to prove everyone wrong. I think part of it also comes from my family. I was taught, growing up, that things will not be handed to you. You have to work hard and then work a little more, even when you’re tired.
You also have to want it — whatever you are doing. I wanted my APR. My husband was working two jobs because we were broke and we had a 2 year old. So, I knew if I wanted it to happen, I was going to have to figure it out. I’m trying to teach my son the same attitude that hard work will eventually pay off.