The First 30 Days: Be Proactive

Chelsea Anne Person

Columbus State University Athletics: Todd Reeser

I remember a conversation I had with a friend about two weeks ago. “I’m diving head first and praying there’s a very large and deep pool beneath me,” I said. My friend laughed. She knows how dramatic I can be.

I described to her with some panic in my voice my goals for my internship with Todd Reeser, Columbus State University Athletic Director. While I was fully aware of what I signed on for when I took the internship: plan an inaugural women’s athletics philanthropy luncheon, craft human interest stories about our athletes or members of our athletics community, and assess areas where CSU Athletics could improve their communication strategies; reality set in. I actually had to follow through.

Despite the initial shock, my first 30 days have been incredible. There has never been a moment where I could take a back seat approach. Todd, has challenged me to be as creative as possible, seek challenging feature topics, and think big.

As anyone who has taken a course with Dr. McCollough knows, research holds a foundational role in all campaigns. The two weeks I devoured articles and blog posts about women’s philanthropy luncheons. I called friends and interviewed trusted sources that had experience in women’s philanthropy and could share advice. I also searched for venues, compared prices, scheduled and conducted site visits. Ultimately with the help of the committee, we committed to a date, time, location and menu.

At the same time, I was searching for feature topics. One thing I learned in a News Writing course last spring was sometimes the best way to find a story is to go where people are talking. Sounds obvious, but it’s tempting to sit behind our screens and Google topics instead of leveraging our relationships and asking, “So, what’s going on? What are your teammates up to? How’s the basketball team doing?”

The last question led to my first feature story. The topic was challenging and sensitive. I didn’t know how to approach my initial interviews and was intimidated. Nevertheless, I decided that I was equipped, I had an opportunity and I would do my best. I’ll let the readers decide how I faired.

In closing, I have realized there’s an illusion that it easier to be reactive. Taking the back seat can seem safer. If I have learned anything in the last 30 days, it is to be proactive. Do not take the back seat, sit shotgun. This takes time, energy and risk. But I have been encouraged: I am more resourceful than I think I am (the Internet is wonderful), tasks are growth opportunities (in my case, there are many), and if my best results in “failure,” I know better for next time (failure is a tool).

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