The summer experience – FastStartDC brand ambassador edition

By Leah Drewette

Just like that, the summer season at FastStartDC has come to a close…and what a ride it’s been! In a good way, of course.

I call it “my previous life” – over a decade spent in another career, prior to joining FastStart – Durham College’s (DC) student entrepreneurship centre. My previous life as a registered veterinary technician (RVT) was nothing like the work I had done this summer, working as FastStart’s brand ambassador.

Don’t get me wrong, as a student in the Public Relations (PR) program at DC, I knew I was in for some big changes.

You could say my first few days with FastStart were a bit of a “culture shock.” A remote desk job with virtual meetings, lots of writing and editing, some graphic design and of course, speaking to fellow DC students about the amazing opportunities that await them at FastStart. Oh yes, a far-cry from being an RVT, but I was ready to take on whatever was thrown at me. I was ready to say yes to all opportunities and dive into my new role.

As a brand ambassador over the summer, my major role was to visit a myriad of virtual classrooms to discuss all things FastStart. Equipped with my very own pitch deck, I walked students and faculty through our services: our free FS360 course and starting point, our lineup of experienced coaches and faculty advisors on-hand to offer mentorship and, of course, our talented marketing team of work-study students that take student entrepreneur brands to the next level.

Once I got over my fear of public speaking, pitching FastStart was easy. Not only because I eventually got used to it, but because I believe in the program and have seen our students find success, first-hand. Communicating these success stories was crucial to engaging and inspiring students to join us. It showed other students that they can be successful with us, too. It showed that what may be “just” an idea right now, could be life-changing. My favourite part of pitching to these classes was the positive energy I received from my fellow peers. It didn’t feel like I was speaking to strangers, it felt like I was talking to my very own cheerleaders.

When I wasn’t in the virtual classroom, I wrote our monthly newsletters, press releases on our successes, New & Notable web stories and descriptions for our upcoming events. I even got involved in some graphic design for Instagram and promotional flyers. With Public Relations being the diverse and variable industry that it is, I’m lucky to have dipped my toes into different writing styles and worked with other promotional assets. A PR professional is essentially a master of communicating, and communication comes in many forms. Whether it’s through speaking, writing or design, it’s about communicating a message, instilling an emotion or inspiring action. With FastStart, I was involved in a bit of everything, which ultimately gave me a taste of the real world of PR. Now, not only do I just know what PR is from the outside, I have a deeper understanding of how it works from the inside, and what it’s like to collaborate with departments or professionals from other areas of a company.

When I began my summer work-study, what immediately got my attention, and what I loved most about working for FastStart, was the atmosphere. Yes – there is still an atmosphere when working remotely. My first impressions of the team lasted all summer long: a kind and approachable boss, friendly and funny teammates, passionate mentors and a safe space to express ideas and opinions.

A supportive and tight-knit team calls for a toast. How many times have you heard others complain about their workplace atmosphere? How many times have you complained? Me, too. After working in many places over the years, FastStart checks all the boxes for a desirable workplace.

In times of stress – tight deadlines, external circumstances and general bumps in the road – the team smiled through it all. More than just co-workers, we’re good friends. Our peers and clients seem to think we’re the greatest – because, well, we are!

I think you can see where I’m going with all of this.

My experience has been wonderful. Not only did I get to work with a positive and seriously talented team, but I also learned a lot of transferable skills and PR techniques that will serve me well in my new career.

Look out world, I’m coming for you! Well, when I graduate, anyway.

FastStartDC is the home of student entrepreneurs. Have a business idea? Reach out today to see how FastStart can support you!