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03 Nov, 2016

Ashley Schmidt's CPSM Journey

Ashley Schmidt

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I didn't think I would ever go after my CPSM. Between just a general hatred of test taking and not having the time, I was pretty convinced it was never going to happen. When I started working at SmithGroupJJR, it was the first time in my career I felt like my employer was invested in me. After a few years, we started talking about my future there and what it would take to see myself as Principal. That was when it came up - in order to hold a Principal-level position here, you must be certified in your field. Honestly, my heart sank, because I knew I would have to do what I had been putting off for the last 6 years. When I committed to taking the exam, my whole team cheered me on. I definitely felt the pressure to perform, not just for them, but for myself. But now, with passing, I know they know I am committed. Now that I have crossed that hurdle, all types of things are possible for me in my career here.

With 3 days as a CPSM under my belt, I can't say that I have put my certification to good use just yet, but I can say that while I was studying, it really ignited me to try new things, go a little further, and push my team for success. It also gave me a lot of perspective on the things that I don't do during my day-to-day. I have really lived in BD for the last 6 years, and studying gave me a greater understanding and appreciation for PR and other areas that I don't deal with as often. I feel that piece has already come in handy with how I think about my job and others on our team.

The fact is that we all have a lot on our plate now. I am convinced your 30's are just a complete mess, but if we make it out, our 40's are going to be a real party. This couldn’t have come at a worse time in my life. A toddler at home, a husband who travels, a 2-hour commute, a budding nonprofit, an attempt to grow our studio throughout the east coast, and any number of other excuses I could give were all getting in the way of me being able to prepare for the exam. If I hadn't said the words out loud that I was taking the test, and had people cheering for me, I would have bailed out week 2. (Because let's be real, that handbook totally draws you in with chapter 1 and then slaps you in the face during chapter 2). You just need to push through. Announce to your support system that you are taking the exam, allow lots of buffer time for study weeks that will not go as planned (like all of them), lean on those who have taken it before for guidance, and practice. Just rip the band-aid off and do it. Like everything else in life, there is no perfect time and you will feel like a rockstar when you do achieve it!