The way I ended up in quantum PR is the culmination of many things throughout my educational and professional career. Was I surprised? Yes! Here’s how it all happened.
Following high school, I attended Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. It is a selective and academically rigorous program with classes designed to start weeding out the weaker students starting in the first semester.
One practice I had to get in the habit of doing was checking news headlines daily – both local and national – because we were tested on them in classes for participation credit. It was a great habit to get into; being up to date on current events is valuable within this industry (more on that later).
When I started at the Cronkite School, I told myself that I’d never do anything related to sports or tech. The funny thing about life is that once you plan for something, oftentimes the universe will laugh at you and throw you a few curveballs just for the hell of it. In my defense, at 18, I felt I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to be “good enough” in either of those industries. Both seemed too challenging, but little did I know what was ahead.
The COVID-19 pandemic began just as my second semester at ASU was beginning, and my dreams of going to an out-of-state school were paused as we were all told to pack up our dorms and head back home. I had no idea I wouldn’t be returning to campus for another two years!
A lot happened during those two years, the majority of which isn’t important to this story. But, one important thing that happened was an open application to join ASU’s athletics department, Sun Devil Athletics, as an intern in their media relations office. When I applied, I went in with the mentality of, “If I make it, great! If I don’t, at least I can say I tried.”
To my excitement and surprise, I was accepted into the internship. I was nervous going into it – the only sports I knew anything about were baseball and hockey, and even then, it wasn’t to the same borderline-obsessive extent that my peers majoring in sports journalism had. But, once I met everyone I would be working with, I knew that taking this chance on myself was going to be worth it.
There were plenty of things I had to learn and adapt to: new writing styles, even faster turnaround deadlines, and understanding sports that I had never paid attention to before. There’s nothing quite like a sports information director giving you a full rundown of how a lacrosse game works 15 minutes before the match starts, and you’re also in charge of live tweeting the match!
Many experiences at Sun Devil Athletics truly helped me in my forthcoming professional career: being open to new opportunities, learning as much as you can, and giving it your best shot. By the time I finished my internship, I had worked with the following sports, most of which I previously knew little about: Baseball, Men’s Basketball, Football, Golf, Lacrosse, Swim & Dive, Women’s Tennis, Triathlon, Women’s Volleyball, and Wrestling.
It was challenging at times, but it was easily the highlight of my college experience. I loved its fast-paced nature and the fact that I was learning something new every day. I knew I wanted to pursue post-graduation opportunities that would challenge me in a similar way.
As for tech, I wasn’t introduced to that world until my last semester of college. I was intimidated by tech at first, feeling as though I didn’t know enough about the science or business behind it to be successful from a communications standpoint.
It wasn’t until I did client work for Yubico, a cybersecurity company, as part of a “capstone” class, that I realized that the tech industry was something that I could be interested in working in after graduation. I also secured an internship with Novacoast, Inc., another cybersecurity company, as a public relations intern. While I worked on different projects for each company, both showed me that communicating within the world of tech isn’t as complicated as I made it out to be in my head. Sure, it was different from what I was used to, but nothing I couldn’t figure out.
Once I completed my degree and started applying for full-time jobs, I found the HKA MarCom website, saw that they were hiring, and sent along my resume.
During my interview, I learned more about quantum technology and the state of the quantum industry. I was utterly fascinated.
Since I began working at HKA earlier this year, it’s been explained to me many times that there is a learning curve that comes with the quantum industry, so don’t be concerned about asking questions. While the learning curve is definitely real, it shouldn’t be something that immediately drives people away from working in this industry.
Going back to the good habits I learned at ASU, there’s something to be said for keeping up with current news and information. Staying up to date with recent quantum headlines has helped me learn more about the industry and made it easier to gain a realistic perspective on the industry as well. I’m also fortunate to work with some amazing people who are happy to answer any question I have, or at the very least, kindly say, “That’s a good question.”
Quantum technology is at an exciting point in its development, and to be at the forefront of communicating these developments has been an amazing opportunity. There are still many things about this industry that I need to learn, but there also are so many more quantum discoveries waiting to be revealed and communicated.