Continue to Serve

Ryan Windels  Follow

Last October, I was standing beside a river, waiting for the start of an event to announce new funding for the Portal Bridge (not that it matters, but the Portal Bridge, built in 1910, is a railroad bridge over the Hackensack River, and carries more passengers daily than any other railroad bridge in the Western Hemisphere). As I was going over the meticulously planned seating chart one final time, an Amtrak engineer came up behind me and warned me not to go near the water saying, “Don’t get any of it on your skin.” That moment left me thinking how in the world I had gotten there.

In high school, I never imagined working anywhere but in the political arena. I have always had deep respect and admiration for those who dedicate their lives to public service. Plus, being a hard-nosed New Jerseyan, I love the daily battles, deal making, policy arguments, and political maneuvering that comes along with it. I shaped most of my time in college around my desire to work in government and politics. I joined student government; I spent a summer interning at a premier government relations firm during the day and a presidential campaign at night. The month before I graduated, through connections in my network, I received an offer to join Governor Chris Christie’s administration.

There, I planned town hall meetings, staffed events across the state, reported on budgetary hearings, and learned that a fast-pace, challenging environment is what I prefer. The administration’s communications strategy was of particular interest to me, specifically how the public would digest our policies and ideas through the lens of the media. It’s an important relationship, and one that cannot be brushed aside .

In the moments after the engineer told me about the toxic stretch of the river, it dawned on me that although policies set forth by an administration can last generations, the time you have to do it has a faster-than-you-think expiration date. We had three months left in office at that time, and I was ready for new challenges at the same pace. I wanted to try a career in communications, but was nervous about the change and knew it would have to be at a special place with a relatable common purpose. I wanted to work at a place where I never stopped learning, and was provided with experiences I could not get elsewhere.  

I began casually looking at firms and job postings on LinkedIn. None gave me a sense of urgency that I needed to apply there now. Then, I found Prosek Partners. I looked at Prosek’s profile, as well as some of the employees who worked there, and I was impressed. None of the other agencies I did research on caught my eye like Prosek. I did some more digging on Prosek’s website and was drawn to the “Army of Entrepreneurs” culture. When I got off the elevator for my first interview, I saw a dynamic workplace, people collaborating, and conceivably, me being able to jump right in and get to work. I knew from the moment I left that day, this was where I needed to be.

Prosek has allowed me to serve in a completely new way, but while keeping the fast-paced, dynamic, and strategic workplace I desired intact. The transition to a PR career from government service has its challenges. First off, you must re-learn the relationship with the media. In my old job it could be adversarial at times. Second, I had to learn how to serve a multitude of clients who all have different needs, and desire to get their messaging across in different ways. Every day I come to work, I am privileged to engage with seriously talented coworkers who teach me something new about this industry and financial services all the time, while presenting me opportunities that are purposeful and collaborative. 

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