Today, my friend, Jessica Lomelin, will get on a plane and move to Uganda. For the next six months, she will be working for Invisible Children in their communications department.
After hearing about the organization in college, she was inspired and stayed tuned. This past fall, she saw that they were hiring for a communications position. Going out on a limb, she decided to apply and “hoped for the best.” In early December, she learned that the position was hers.
The downside? Jessica had to leave her first job out of college, at Weber Shandwick in Seattle. “I was terrified, I’ll be honest. Weber has invested so much in me. I was afraid that I was going to disappoint them.” In the end, she was, “amazed by how supportive everyone was.” Weber proved to Jessica that they cared about “her growing as a person and not necessarily within the context of the company.” During her time in college, at the University of Oregon (she’s an AHPR alum too), she dreamt of working for an agency like Weber. Despite her “amazing” time at Weber, this wasn’t an opportunity she could refuse.
In Uganda, Jessica will be the “storyteller,” documenting and reporting people’s stories from the ground. She is looking forward to this because she’s, “always been passionate about issues communication. Doing it from the front lines evokes a lot more emotion than you’d get working in an office all day.” “Ultimately, I want to make advocates out of people and to inspire them to do something of their own.”
Education and experience is something she’s been thankful for these last couple of months. “At the J-School, they pushed us to be rock stars. Having opportunities like AHPR in college really helped me.” Once she learned of the opportunity, she consulted her former PR professors who told her that she had “nothing to lose and everything to gain.” Having that network of professors, who years following graduation were willing to discuss and support her decision, made the process much smoother. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that, “You can’t go wrong by doing good.”
Today in 2010, there are so many more opportunities for advocacy, especially with social media. This is driving advocacy by passion and not necessarily dollars.
Looking ahead, she expects that these life lessons will have a lasting imprint. She wants to get the “everyday perspective” of “living and breathing” a culture of people. “For decades the people of Uganda were silenced. It’s their blood, sweat and tears,” she said, “It’s my job to push that out and use different mediums to tell their story,” to raise awareness and to change the world.