Distinguished speaker finds success through connections

Published by adviser, Author: Amber Cannon - Rocket Contributor, Date: February 27, 2014

Many college students strive to become professionals. Many also want to find a job right out of graduation doing something they enjoy.

Rock PRoductions welcomed a young professional, Sabrina Saunders as part of their Distinguished Speaker Series on Wednesday evening in Eisenburg auditorium.

Saunders graduated not far from Slippery Rock, with an undergraduate degree in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations at Edinboro University. She then went to further her education at Carlow University.

Since then, she has achieved success not only locally, but across the United States.  Saunders went on to become the youngest director of The Education and Youth Development for the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, as well as work in the government for a numbers of years, meeting the president and the vice president several times.

It wasn’t always easy for Saunders though. When she graduated from Edinboro University, she explained that she didn’t have a job, which was very overwhelming for her.

“When I graduated, I didn’t have a job,” she said. “I wanted to be a speech writer. Where was I going to do that at? You can’t go into CNN and say ‘Hey, you guys hiring?’ So what did I do? I went home and walked the streets because what else are you going to do when you don’t have a job?” she joked.

After walking the streets of her hometown, she explained that she ran into one of her teachers in high school who offered her a job running a program that she participated in while in high school. Saunders expressed that building relationships are the most important thing to remember while trying to become a young professional.

“Relationships are key. Establish them,” she said. “Foster the real relationships that you have with people who can help you professionally and keep them going intentionally. After all, it’s not who you know, but who knows you,” Saunders said.

Along with good relationships come bad ones. Saunders explained that she has had a lot of bad relationships in the past, but also said that bad relationships don’t always have to be a bad thing.

“I’ve had plenty of bad relationships in the past, especially being involved in the government and previously being the Mayor of Pittsburgh’s assistant,” she said. “It’s bound to happen. Most of the time there were those relationships that would never become solved, but I always remembered to build relationships and not burn bridges. Some disagreeing could be a good thing. We may not always agree, but we should always respect each other,” she said.

According to Saunders, communication and presentation are very important when trying to become successful. Being in Ebony Magazine as one of the “50 Young Professionals on the Rise” was one of Saunders’ major accomplishments, but as she soon realized, she didn’t have a professional picture to put in the magazine.

“Always keep a clean and professional photo of you on board,” she said. “I didn’t have one when I was asked to be in Ebony Magazine, so my boyfriend at the time had to take a normal picture in my apartment against the white wall. Not good. How you carry yourself is very important. Also, how you talk to others and how you word things are also important. If you learn now how to word your sentences and speeches professionally, it will help you later. Be thoughtful and intentional in your communication,” she said.

Everyone has their “Yes, I’ve made it!” moments, getting to that moment is not easy, she said. It takes a lot of hard and dedicated work. According to Saunders, a successful journey starts with education.

“You can’t have success if you don’t know how to define it for yourself,” she said. “Think strategically and seek internships and volunteer opportunities that interest you. You define your personal brand. If you become a good student, hard worker and have a good reputation, you’re set.”


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