News - Erin and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Job

Erin and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Job

By Carla Morris

Erin Williams '13Holding out for perfection may not seem sage advice for new grads entering the job market, but Erin Williams ’13 made it work for her. Today, as marketing and communications specialist for CHS Inc., a Fortune 100 global agribusiness, Erin finds herself standing before high school audiences talking about landing that “dream” job.

“I had the desire to fulfill a dream, not just to get a job,” she says. Coming from a farming background, Erin wanted to work in agriculture. Inspired by courses she took at Greenville College, she also wanted to work in communication. “I was unsure how communication and ag were going to meet,” she reflects.

With diligent research and networking, Erin soon found out. It helped too that she practiced the “tell-it-like-it-is” instruction she gleaned from classes led by Professor Veronica Ross.

Now, one of 10,000 CHS Inc. employees worldwide, Erin works out of Shipman, IL in a promotional role that changes with the seasons. During the summer months, for example, she ensures that CHS has a presence in the surrounding county fairs and homecomings.

“One of the things I love most about what I do is getting to know our growers on a personal level. One way we at CHS do that during the summer months is by hosting a hospitality tent at local county fairs.” Another favorite activity of Erin’s is to share her dream job story with students as part of leadership training provided by Future Farmers of America (FFA).

Here are some tips from Erin’s dream job tale:

  • Networking, another word for conversation – “It was my dream to work within agricultural, so I surrounded myself with people in that field,” said Erin. She began by talking with local farmers she already knew. After the name “CHS” continually popped up in conversations, Erin simply called the office. 

  • Interview, another word for sales pitch – After connecting with the right people, Erin won an interview. To Erin, an interview is simply an opportunity to sell the prospective employer on the idea of hiring her. To prepare, she thoroughly researched the company, identified what it did well and also identified improvements she could implement if she were onboard.

  • Professional attire, “I belong here” at a glance – Before the initial exchange of words, even before the smile and handshake comes the first visual impression. “In addition to being over prepared with multiple copies of my cover letter and resume, and examples of TV and radio spots,” says Erin, “I dressed to kill.”

  • Firm handshake, more “I belong here” – “The art of a good handshake partnered with a smile and good eye contact is crucial. Your handshake is a big part of your first impression and you only get one shot at a first impression.”

  • Strengths worked into the conversation  – “I did my best to make my interviewers see why I was made for this position,” said Erin. She seized an opportunity to leverage what she learned about her strengths at GC. When the interviewer said that this was a newly created position and asked why Erin wanted the challenge, Erin replied, “My number one strength is competition. I am excited to be the first.”

Erin credits GC’s Department of Communication and Professor Veronica Ross for preparing her for success. “Professor Ross tells it like it is and uses real-life applications regularly in the classroom,” says Erin. “She can be tough, but she will make you the best. Greenville College will stretch you whether you¹re ready or not; it’s great preparation for real life.”

Learn more about resume-writing skills from Professor Veronica Ross.

Learn more about interview skills with Professor Veronica Ross.

This story was published on January 21, 2015

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