What Really Matters
Rachel Faulkner Perez is an alumna of the Anderson University class of 2000. During college, she majored in mass communications with a specialization in public relations and a marketing minor. Now she serves as the senior director of external communications for Genesys, a global, customer experience technology company.
Genesys serves clients worldwide with around 6,000 employees in over 50 countries by providing communication channels for customers as well as creating technology solutions for businesses.
Since graduating from AU, Perez has stayed in public relations along with spending some professional time in integrated marketing and communications. She has worked in nonprofits, financial services and housing.
Even before graduating, Perez had her foot in the door of the professional world. “The thing that I think, more than anything, prepared me was focusing on professional experiences during college.”
Perez had multiple internships by the time she graduated. During one, she worked in Washington D.C. for a political consultant. She said this experience gave her a broader view of the world and took her out of her comfort zone.
She also worked on the communications side of a congressional campaign and interned in the law department of Eli Lilly, a pharmaceuticals company headquartered in Indianapolis. Through that experience, Perez learned more about the business world.
While in school, Perez enjoyed her PR case studies class. “I do think that a lot of the coursework that I was engaged in, on the PR side, was really helpful. And there were some projects, in particular, that I do think were pretty true to what’s real in the business world.”
Perez also mentioned an “all sides of communication” class where students had the opportunity to go to the broadcast studio, write and spend time studying different facets of communication. “Some of that work, I didn’t want to do. I never wanted to do broadcasts, but it was good for me to be connected to it to see how it all came together because as PR people we work with those. Those are adjacent fields.”
There are some aspects to professional work that Perez did not learn in school. Self-advocacy is included in this. “What I’ve found in my employees is there are very few that actually do a great job advocating for themselves when it comes to the hiring process, meaning they aren’t afraid to ask for a certain salary amount. And they aren’t afraid to kind of push for that in the right way.”
Perez believes self-advocacy is especially important for women to learn. “As you probably have heard, we [women] get paid lower than most men for the same jobs,” Perez said, “and there’s this nature that we have as females too that we’ll get paid what we’re worth, or we shouldn’t ask, we should be thankful or grateful. But the reality is I’ve seen this with myself and with employees that no one else is going to advocate for you the way you can and should.”
“It’s okay to ask for what you’re worth.”
Perez encourages people to identify their opportunities and speak up if they believe they are ready for it and want it instead of waiting for someone to notice them. “We have to be more cognizant to stand up for ourselves and just ask for what we want and raise our hand when there’s something we want to go after.”
Another value Perez has found in the workplace is perspective. Perez identifies perfectionist qualities in herself and is work-oriented. This can cause her to “over prioritize” work above health, family or other importances.
She said, “And they promise you when you die, and that sounds really morbid, but when you have your tombstone at your grave, it’s not going to say ‘she was a really hard worker’ right? It’s going to say ‘loving mother, wife, like whatever your things are. That’s what people are going to remember you for.”
This does not mean Perez discredits her work. She encourages keeping things in perspective and discovering where work fits into the other aspects of life.
Rebekah Lynn Hisle is a junior from Saint Joseph, Mich., majoring in public relations and minoring in sports marketing and writing. Rebekah is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, a student-run public relations agency at Anderson University.