How I Started Standing – Madison Hrdlicka


Although I’m a new associate to Standing Partnership, my relationship with Standing technically began in 2012. I was near graduation from  Missouri State University. With an uncertain future ahead, I was only sure of a few things; I wanted to write, I wanted to work for a place with an outstanding culture, and I wanted that place to be in St. Louis.

Through my search, I found all of those things and more in Standing.

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How I Started Standing – Lindsay Auer


Officially, I started at Standing Partnership six years ago.

I had just graduated from Saint Louis University and my fellow classmates and I were all anxious to secure internships for the summer.  With quite a bit of experience already under my belt, I was fortunate to have offers from several of my top choices – from major global agencies to smaller, independent firms. > read post


How I Started Standing: Ashley Pitlyk



This may be my “How I Started Standing” post, but perhaps a more fitting title would be “The Tale of the Internships.” It all goes back to my first public relations course my sophomore year of college. If there was one thing my professor drilled into my head, it was that I needed to have at least three internships on my resume if I wanted to secure a job after graduation.

I definitely took my professor’s advice to heart. By the time I graduated from Saint Louis University in 2010, I had four internships under my belt and was ready to embark on my fifth at Fleishman-Hillard. The connections I made at Fleishman were invaluable. However, as my internship began to wind down and the economy continued to look bleak, I decided to return to my alma mater to begin graduate school in the fall.

I was fortunate enough to receive a graduate assistantship from SLU, where I worked for the university’s department of marketing and communications while simultaneously taking classes.  My funding only lasted during the school year, though, so I took a sixth internship at Black Twig Communications in the summer of 2011 to help pay the bills.

When I returned to SLU in August, time seemed to fly. Before I knew it, I was frantically updating cover letters and sending out resumes. My phone was by no means ringing off the hook, though. I started getting nervous about paying the bills again, so I decided to apply for my seventh internship at Standing Partnership. Standing had been on my radar for some time. I came across the name when I was a junior at SLU, reviewing the communication department’s listing of internship programs. Based on what I had read on Standing’s website, blog and Twitter feed, it seemed like an organization with a really positive work culture. My positive opinion increased when I met the team in person.    

Now, I wouldn’t say I usually enjoy job interviews, but as I left my interview with Standing’s internship hiring team I was strangely excited. I loved everything about the interview. I loved the people I met, the clients they had, the diverse work opportunities available – it seemed like such a great fit. A few weeks later, I found out that I got the internship. I was thrilled! I was even more thrilled a few weeks after that when I got the call that Standing’s business was growing, and I’d been invited to join the team as an associate. Of course, I said yes.

You might say I’m the Cinderella story of internships. However, I’d say my experience was more of a Goldilocks tale. One of the great things about interning at multiple organizations was that I was able to try different things and learn what I liked and what I disliked. I have worked for really small companies with a staff of five people to one of the largest PR agencies in the world. For me, Standing was just right.

So for any recent college grads who may still be struggling to find a job in this economy, my advice to you is don’t blow off the internship opportunities. It may not be what you imagined you’d be doing right after college, but it’s an opportunity to learn what kind of organization you really want to work for while simultaneously beefing up your resume. And who knows. Maybe you’ll even find your fairy tale job offer like I did.

If you are interested in an internship opportunity at Standing, click here. We are always looking for great interns to complement our staff. 



How I Started Standing: Maggie Brandt


When I was preparing to graduate with a degree in communication in May 2008, I thought I would be rolling in job offers… and then the recession hit hard. I quickly discovered that good grades and the resume I had been building for years didn’t mean much when competing against too many experienced people for too few jobs.

After several months of searching, I was fortunate enough to intern with Fleishman-Hillard, where I cultivated a greater interest in PR… until I completed my internship and once again found myself job-searching in a job-less city. Determined to do something worthwhile in spite of the market, I returned to school to pursue my graduate degree. While working on my masters I was hired at Missouri State University, where I served as the assistant director of co-curricular involvement in the Office of Student Engagement (what a mouthful!). I spent nearly two years supporting student organizations and student leadership programs, reliving the extracurriculars that so greatly impacted my own college experience.

As much as I loved higher education and the student involvement experience, my skills and interests were once again pointing me to communication. I found ways to build my PR skills, including editing a professional association newsletter and coordinating marketing efforts for student programs. In fall of 2010, I made an extremely difficult and emotional decision to leave Missouri State at the end of the semester to pursue communication positions in St. Louis. I sent my resume to many agencies and organizations, including Standing Partnership, which I knew only by its website. December approached and I was biting my nails, afraid that I would once again face the tune of “not enough experience.”

I ended up at Standing by a rare stroke of luck. I learned that a colleague had a personal connection with Melissa Lackey, president of Standing Partnership. He introduced us and Melissa agreed to meet with me and share her perspectives and experiences in the industry after the holidays. A few days later, Maya Lunnemann called to inform me that Standing had an internship opening. After a phone interview, which felt more like a chat with a friend, and a visit to the office, I knew Standing was where I wanted to be.

The Standing team gave me some great opportunities to work on several major clients and participate in client meetings and media events (including some behind the scenes work at Opening Day). In a few short months this impressive group had become family, and I worried about leaving the Standing team at the end of my internship. Thankfully, during the last week in April, Standing offered me the opportunity to join the team full-time. 

I’m so lucky to still be at Standing as an associate – this is a special organization where people truly care about their team and the work that they do. Moreover, I am thankful that I am still standing in general. As a student, I never understood how unpredictable the “real world” could be, and I learned that finding the right job is a job in itself. Now, I am grateful that I had to redirect myself a bit to get to where I am. I still love to talk about higher ed, but I’ve found that communication is a great fit that continues to challenge me to learn and grow, and I am more determined than ever to keep standing.


How I Started Standing: Mihaela Grad


Corporate culture has become a key defining characteristic that helps companies stand out in today’s business environment. This goes beyond first-impression descriptions of companies as either stodgy and hierarchical or laidback and creative. Corporate culture is crucial in helping companies handle change, confront ethical dilemmas and retain and recruit high-caliber employees.

Wikipedia describes corporate culture as the “unique personality or character of a particular company or organization that includes such elements as core values and beliefs, corporate ethics, and rules of behavior.” Others put it more simply as “the ways things are done around here.” As a new employee, I had the privilege of immersing myself in the corporate culture of Standing Partnership over the last month and learned what a huge difference it makes for employees and for clients.

Before joining Standing Partnership, I heard a lot of positive things about its strong reputation, high work standards and collegial work environment. These were no doubt important factors that influenced my decision to join Standing Partnership. A month into the job, I realize that these descriptions are mere understatements. From the welcome note signed by all employees and the lovely plant waiting on my desk on my first day to the happy hour held to welcome new employees, I found that the Standing team members are not just consummate professionals, as I had heard before, but also the kind of people you would want as your neighbors, the kind who would have your back if you needed help.

Standing’s clients may wonder how this is relevant to them. I can answer that. Two weeks into the job, I participated in one of the three so-called retreats Standing Partnership holds every year to explore one of its core values (collaboration, passion, innovation and integrity). The theme of this retreat was passion. We broke up into two teams and visited two client sites for a half-day full-emersion experience. These immersion visits have become a traditional component of Standing’s retreats and they help us better appreciate the passion our clients have for their business and cement the passion we have for our work.

My colleague Jessica recently blogged about the retreat experience. To read more about our visits to Doe Run’s facility in Herculaneum and a St. Louis County farm, please read her post here.

After the field trips, which were not only informative, but also lots of fun, we shared what we learned with each other and brainstormed ways in which we could make ourselves more responsive to our clients’ needs. We agreed that while we always try to stay abreast of our clients’ industries and issues, first-hand immersion is an invaluable experience that allows us to literally see things from our clients’ perspectives.

When we tell our prospective clients that we are capable of quickly getting up-to-speed on their business, industry or issue, we have a process to illustrate how our corporate culture encourages full immersion into our clients’ worlds.

We devoted the second part of our retreat to discussing ways in which we can preserve the most valuable aspects of Standing Partnership’s corporate culture, while being flexible to growth, new employees and new trends in the industry. By keeping employees happy, offering them opportunities to learn and manage their work experiences, Standing Partnership is better equipped to serve clients in a more effective way.

As I celebrate my first-month anniversary with Standing Partnership, I am excited to be with a company that has a corporate culture that values excellence, mutual respect and learning. I still have the welcome card on my desk. In my previous jobs, people mostly used to send farewell cards, so I feel optimistic about joining a company that makes employees feel valued from the get-go, not just when they leave.