By: Karen Hernandez
Every college students’ goal is to land their dream job after graduation. Some are fortunate enough to have that opportunity, and for Kate Burkhardt, that opportunity presented itself right after graduation.
Burkhardt made the trip down to Marion, Indiana six years ago to purse a degree in Public Relations (Public Relations, ’14). Her time at Indiana Wesleyan University was spent fostering relationships in and out of the classroom. She also spent a great amount of time expanding her professional network through internships and serving on leadership in student organizations. During Burkhardt’s sophomore year, she attended a Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) meeting, in which she heard a tourism professional speak about her experience in the field. It was at that moment when Burkhardt decided tourism was the career path she wanted to take.
Putting her networking and professional skills to test, Burkhardt proved once again that hard work yields great results. Working for Hamilton County Tourism as Communications Coordinator is one of the many results of Burkhardt’s hard work. Her transition from college student to employee posed no challenge for her. Adjusting to the new culture and the mindset is a major transition, but one that is necessary when beginning a new job.“Anytime you enter a new organization, there is always a learning curve. Whether you are coming straight out of school or you’ve been in the field 5 or 10 years, every company does things a little different,” she said.
Burkhardt has learned new skills as she continues to shape her career at Hamilton County Tourism. She learned the importance of working fast and working well. With a constant demand for new online content on their website, Burkhardt has learned to push through even the toughest situations. As a result of her drive to achieve, her feature story on a local hamburger restaurant was featured on USA Today and was picked up by other news outlets.
Apart from being a skilled writer, Burkhardt has shown great skill in event planning. This past August, she planned and executed a food tour of Hamilton County for writers from around the Midwest. She worked with restaurants, put together welcome packets, and worked with the logistics of the event. Her event garnered great media coverage for Hamilton County.
Getting paid to wine and dine would be the dream, and Burkhardt is living this dream! As a communication coordinator, Burkhardt’s responsibilities include managing media relations. Hamilton County has become a home away from home. Her dedication to the tourism industry has allowed her to explore places and food she never imagined. Burkhardt also considers herself a tourist in the area, “It was actually in my favor that I didn’t grow up in the area when I got the job. I was able to experience the destinations within Hamilton County with fresh eyes. It is almost as if I was a tourist, and it was important for me to have that perspective.”
She now considers herself more acquainted with Hamilton County than with her hometown.
Her journey is only beginning, and with her strong work ethic, she will accomplish much more. Burkhardt’s time at IWU prepared her to achieve great work. She took classes that allowed her to work with actual clients, the type of exposure that is hard to obtain at other schools.
“IWU is a really interesting example of a microcosm, because there are so many student organizations on campus that planned so many events — and that is exactly how it is in the real world. Everyone plans and tries to figure out the best way to communicate to the masses, and IWU felt like a smaller version of that.”
Her advice to the graduating class is simple, “Stay hungry, but humble. walking forth in confidence, but at the same time having the humility to know that you will learn so much in your first year, is key.”
Written by guest writer, Karen Hernandez. Karen is a senior Strategic Communication student with a concentration in Public Relations, graduating in April. She enjoys satire and a good pair of heels. Her hope is to one day run her own PR firm.