Sarah Merrill (B.S. ’11) leads a very busy life. Not only is she the Director of Business Development at Atrium Staffing in the bustling location of New York City, but she is also a Social Media Influencer running the account @Bigkidproblems. Having received a degree in Public Relations from Florida State as well as having worked as a PR intern at Loreal and VBH Luxury Inc., Merrill was well equipped to take on her life of social media and business development.
“My two PR internships were instrumental in securing a full time position in Public Relations after graduating, although I will say I didn’t get a true understanding of the professional PR world until I started working full time as a coordinator,” says Merrill.
According to Merrill, it was FSU’s career center that helped her discover and take advantage of these essential opportunities that turned into internships.
“As an intern, you do learn important PR basics and even pick up things like office culture and email etiquette that are foreign concepts straight out of school,” explains Merrill.
After spending time studying PR at FSU and working as an intern at Loreal and VBH, Merrill felt prepared to go into her busy professional career working in social media and business development.
“Concepts I learned in brand development [at FSU and my internships] definitely helped me forge success with my social media account @Bigkidproblems,” recalls Merrill. “My background in PR was surprisingly perfect preparation for my current role as Director of Business Development. The research, communication and relationship building needed to effectively pitch and secure new business is strikingly similar.”
Though having honed her PR skills and reshaped them for her role as Director of Business Development, the transition from working in PR to working in business development did not come easily. She resorted to an old-fashioned pros and cons list, realizing that her future in PR was not one that she wanted to live out. Fortunately, the skills she learned in PR were flexible and her mind was kept open to new possibilities. Now, Merrill reflects on her professional history as, “former PR maven turned occupational match-maker.”
“With my decision to leave the only industry I had ever known, I actually went to Atrium as a candidate. There, I ended up meeting my mentor and some of the female executives who would take a chance on me for the role I have today. It was a complete leap of faith,” says Merrill.
Finally in a position she truly enjoys and has full confidence in, Merrill is excited to look forward for the many opportunities to come.
“My Business Development position is a relatively new role for my company, so in 5 years I hope to be managing a team in New York and possibly helping to open new offices in different cities,” Merrill explains.
Although her primary occupation is through Atrium, Merrill is determined to work toward her goal as a Social Media Influencer and grow @Bigkidproblems beyond the realm of Instagram.
“I also have lots of fun things cooking with @Bigkidproblems and the possibilities feel endless,” says Merrill. “I will have a website and online shop opening this summer and I have a book in the works. In the next five years, I hope to be published, working on several brand partnerships, and to be more of a “thought leader” in the young-professional space. The sky is the limit!”