Setting yourself apart:the importance of speaking up and standing out

By: Leah Rodriguez

As students we all know the struggles of having our opinions and ideas heard. We’re constantly being told to set ourselves apart from our peers and to break the mold. While we prepare to enter the real world and begin our careers, it may become difficult for us to understand how to stand out from other applicants who seem just as qualified. At the PRSSA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia this November I was able to hear from Hilary McKean, Partner and Managing Director of Global Practices at Ketchum. She spoke about ways to “Speak Up and Stand Out” in the work world and gave advice on ways to set ourselves apart.

1. “You are a brand manager.”

 Ask yourself, “Who are you?” “How do you want people to see you?” and “Does your social media and resume represent that?” These questions are often brought up in the classroom, but do we honestly think about them on a daily basis? Figure out who you are from a branding perspective and try to cultivate that into the way you want employers to see you. Edit your resume and manage your social media accordingly so they can get a broader image of who you truly are.

2. “Showcase your interests and knowledge, and package yourself.”

If your interests are cooking and baking, blog about it. If you love to hike, bike, camp, and fish, share your images on Instagram. Showcase your interests and stand out by becoming an advocate for them. Prove you are a great writer by blogging about them.


3.“Raise your hand and be willing to try and do new things.”

McKean’s employees call her to “go-to” girl because she created a reputation for her willingness to try new things. If you’re in a meeting and your boss asks for someone to do something and nobody else raises their hand, RAISE YOUR HAND. What is it going to hurt? Even if you aren’t familiar with the task at hand, familiarize yourself with it and learn something new. Your efforts will be noticed and go a long way.


4.“Merchandise your value. Promote and advocate yourself in ways that are authentic to you. Be yourself and have a true north.”


Never settle for something that you don’t believe in and always be willing to stand up for what you believe in. No job is so great that you need to sell your values for it.


This advice helped me to understand that setting myself apart is not a difficult task. I know my experience and interests might be a dime a dozen, but what I choose to do with them is what will make me stand out.

Leah Rodriguez is a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in marketing. This is her second year on EMU PRSSA’s executive board, having served as VP of PR and VP of Special Events and Programs in 2014-2015. She is the social media intern for EMU’s College of Arts & Sciences, where she manages their Facebook and Twitter accounts.


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