#MyFirstJob: Distinguished Young Women's Tara Principe
Posted on June 10, 2019
#MyFirstJob is a series focused on University of South Alabama Class of 2019 graduates who are beginning their careers.
While many college graduates are still sending out resumes, hoping to get an interview, Tara Principe, a 21-year-old native of Johnston, R.I., started her new career four days after graduation as the marketing and communication director at Distinguished Young Women, a national scholarship program for high school students.
Principe earned her bachelor of science degree in strategic communication with a minor in management on May 4. She had just finished a spring internship at Distinguished Young Women, so she was already very familiar with the organization and the job.
“Starting on this job as an intern before graduation made this an easy transition for me,” Principe noted. “I am so happy I pursued this internship. The work I had done at South as director of Jag Media prepared me for my current full time job at DYW.”
In fact, DYW is the reason Principe ended up at USA in the first place. Principe is the 2015 Rhode Island Distinguished Young Woman, and competed in the 2015 DYW national program held in Mobile. That experience led her to return to Mobile and attend South on scholarship.
“When I first started college at South Alabama, I originally had planned to go back home to Rhode Island after graduation,” she said. “But my parents knew by my sophomore year at South that I was not coming back home to live. I love Mobile and DYW. There’s no snow here, and I am close to the beaches. It’s a historic place and perfect for me.”
On Principe’s first day at her unpaid spring internship, the previous DYW director of marketing and communications turned in her resignation. Principe had only two weeks to learn the job and then step into the role as an intern. She leaned in to her new responsibilities, taking on a new project to connect DYW alumni through a Facebook page, Distinguished Network, along with other communication and marketing duties.
“As I learned the job and felt more confident, I said I don’t know what the qualifications are, but once I finish my internship, I’d like to be considered for the full-time position,” Principe said. “I went from working as an intern to working part-time, and then I started working full-time.”
Principe’s experience on campus with JagMedia, South’s student-run media network, was a major reason she landed the job.
“Heather Stanley, director of Jag Media at South, hired and mentored me for two years,” Principe shared. “She had a great philosophy of how she treats her student staff. She called it guided autonomy. We did the job, but she had an open door policy and was there to advise us whenever we needed her professional support.”
“Working with Tara was a joy,” Stanley added. “Some students need space to develop professionally. Tara has many great ideas, and I stood back and encouraged her to use her talent.”
Principe learned first-hand about the “Be Your Best Self” motto through the DYW organization, and she lives it daily.
“I love my new position at DYW,” she said. “I am doing media relations, social media, the website, writing and coordinating images for the program book, writing news releases about the national finals and local programs across the country. And, we do a lot of outreach in the community and with our DYW alumni. This is my dream job, and I am grateful.”
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