Signal’s Emily Rollman discusses her experience starting her career as an intern at Signal Group and offers advice to job-seekers looking to make their mark in D.C.
Emily Rollman has served as an Associate at Signal Group since 2019. She began at Signal as an intern in the summer of that year. As we open our internship program for 2020, Emily offered to write about her experience starting at Signal and how it shaped her career.
During my final semester of college, I spent hours scrolling through LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, and what seemed to be every single job site for a position in Washington, DC. Unlike many of my friends and peers, I was dead set on moving to the nation’s capital, no matter what it took.
I attended a Tulane University networking event in Washington where I met two alumna from Signal Group – Elizabeth Northrup and Michelle Baker – and was immediately drawn to the agency. I chose an internship at Signal over other full-time DC-based offers because I was confident this was the place to jump-start my career. I took a risk on myself and my future and, in turn, reaped the benefits that Signal has to offer: a respected, reputable firm in the heart of DC, extensive client base, opportunities for learning and professional development, and working alongside a group of impressive and diverse peers and colleagues.
I would be remiss to not mention the yogurt pretzels, free coffee and tea, and catered “Free Lunch Fridays” that ultimately sweetened the deal for me, no pun intended.
Working within the communications and advocacy sectors, my days as an intern did not consist of making copies or buying lunch for my superiors. I was treated like a member of the Signal team: attending meetings to discuss client messaging methods, producing op-eds and other articles, participating in outside events, setting up meetings with members of Congress and their staffers, and planning long-term strategies for my teams. Signal’s flat hierarchal structure afforded me with ample responsibility to grow and blossom in my internship role, so much so that the intern-to-Associate transition was seamless.
Along with these key work opportunities, Signal also supports a Professional Development Series (PDS) designed to educate both interns and staff on different areas within the communications and advocacy fields. These sessions created an environment where interns could closely interact with the firm’s leadership. PDS sessions ranged from one on of DC’s most experienced lobbyists sharing insights on the legislative process, to an agency executive offering interview tips, to learning how one senior staff member has instituted assorted diversity and inclusion activities throughout the years in various private and federal positions in DC.
As a seasoned entry-job applicant, I’ll conclude with a few job-searching tips for those interested in D.C. or an entry-level advocacy or communications-related role:
- Talk to everyone. Message as many alumni, mutual friends, acquaintances, or others in roles that interest you on LinkedIn, or email and ask them how they landed their position and what tips they might have for you.
- Continue to keep in touch with the people you reach out to. Inform them of any developments that could affect your job search and they’ll be more likely to stay in touch with any news or advice for you.
- Send thank-you notes. Send a thank-you email to those you chat with, and consider mailing a handwritten letter after an interview, internship, or other milestone.
- If offered a position, reach out to your new colleagues. Ask them for coffee or lunch and get to know them better. They will value your initiative, forwardness, and help you stand out.
I wake up every day the same way: brush my teeth, change my clothes, listen to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”, and walk to the office. While all my days start the same, each day is an exciting new adventure at Signal, never boring and always different. There’s no shortage of job and internship opportunities for young hopefuls looking to make their mark in D.C. in the legislative and communications worlds, but Signal Group may just be the right starting off point for you if you sound anything like me.