Path to Prosek: Tate Mikkelsen Shares Her Serendipitous Journey to Prosek
My Path to Prosek began well before my actual first day on the job.
I attended Washington and Lee University, a liberal arts college in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. As part of my studies, I opted in to one of our career trips to New York City my sophomore year, where we toured companies within the “communications” field—mainly marketing, public relations and journalism. One of those stops was Prosek.
At that time, I was still figuring out my professional journey. There were many things I wasn’t sure about yet, but I knew that I was drawn to Prosek’s culture of continual learning, grit, and having the freedom to blaze your own path. There were several Washington and Lee alumni at Prosek, so I made sure to circle their names in my notebook so I’d remember to reach back out to them later.
After the trip, I continued my studies, leaning more into journalism. I interned in Cape Town, South Africa at a publication named Workers World Media in the Khayelitsha township, where I was given the opportunity to dive into the social issues beat. I attended protests, visited hospitals, and sought out ways to report on the complicated and nuanced aspects of a culture and society so different from my own.
This reporting was a critical aspect of my professional development, as it reinforced the importance of keeping an open mind, to not make assumptions, and to consider all sources and sides when putting together a story. This remains ingrained in me today, and I’m always applying this mentality to any topic or client ask. More than that, the lessons I took from reporting created a great foundation for what’s now one of my lifelong mantras—seek first to understand, then to be understood.
After my stint in South Africa, I continued pursuing journalism, both within Lexington, Virginia and beyond. I interned at the Washington Business Journal, where I gained new access to the District’s top executives and companies and covered the news within D.C.’s robust and unique business community. I interviewed CEOs to discuss the issues that were top of mind for them, as well as the strategies behind their success. I attended city council meetings and spoke with companies in their Series A funding round. Here, I really began to see ways to connect the dots on how the financial services industry – and the professionals within it – operate.
When I graduated college in 2020, I decided that I still wanted to try my hand at the public relations side of communications before committing to journalism. It was while the world was still learning how to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and companies were navigating how to manage and onboard remote employees that I began my journey at a D.C.-based strategic communications firm. This came with its own set of opportunities and challenges, as – like everyone at this time – I was learning how to best work with clients and a team from the confines of my own home.
This experience taught me how to proactively ask questions, to go the extra mile to understand an assignment, and to prioritize putting time on my teammates’ calendars to get to know them a bit better. I also began to better familiarize myself with the day-to-day groundwork of “public relations”— building media lists, ideating pitches, creating agendas, drafting press releases, sharing action items from client calls, and more. This role not only gave me the opportunity to learn the lay of the land in this industry, it also gave me the chance to see how simply raising my hand and jumping headfirst into new projects can make an incredible difference in your career.
Still, I had been keeping an eye on Prosek after visiting with the career trip long before. I had spoken with the alumni about their experiences, kept up with the company’s major announcements, and was keen to begin specializing in professional services. Yet, I had my eyes set on Washington D.C. as home.
Then, in January 2022, a mutual friend who worked at Prosek reached out to let me know Prosek was opening an office in D.C. Applying was a no brainer, and after interviewing, it very quickly became clear that this was a great fit for me in terms of company culture and career goals.
I joined at the inception, when it was an office of just a few people. I spoke directly with Jim David, Head of the D.C. office, about his goals for the team and office direction, and I was so excited to be a part of the founding team of Prosek’s new leg.
I was there on Prosek’s first day in the new space, located right in the heart of DuPont. I picked a desk right by the window, where I have sat since.
When I was promoted to Senior Account Executive earlier this year, the first person I called was my newfound best friend and fellow Prosekian, who sits right beside me in the office.
I was there for the team’s first event this summer, welcoming both reporters and clients to visit the new office.
It’s been a thrill and honor to watch Prosek’s D.C. office grow and to see Jen Prosek and Jim’s vision coming to life. I’m eager to see what’s ahead for the firm, both here in D.C. and globally—and how I will continue grow along with it.