Letters Home: Courtney Cebula

Courtney Cebula is a production assistant at Oprah
Radio. She graduated from the Missouri School of
Journalism in 2010 with a degree in convergence
The following letter was submitted March 2, 2012

Dear ONA Mizzou,

Have you ever seen the movie Yes Man starring Jim Carrey? Carrey’s character Carl Allen is a newly-divorced, middle-aged guy with a boring job. Carl dramatically transforms his dull life-- he gets a girlfriend, a dream promotion-- by saying ‘yes’ to every new opportunity for one year.

Now, eventually, too much ‘yes-ing’ gets Carl in trouble. So, without touching on setting boundaries, consider your comfort zone when I share my best piece of advice with you: Say ‘yes.’ Exceed the expectations set for you whenever possible and do it with a smile.

This can-do attitude helped me land my job as a Production Assistant at Oprah Radio in Chicago.

Set the bar high for yourself and do it early. Shortly after I submitted my application for the position, an HR manager emailed me to arrange an interview in Chicago the very next morning. She knew I was away at school in Missouri. I was reading this email in the late-afternoon, calculating how to swing an interview six hours away amidst work, projects & other commitments.

But, this was a huge opportunity. So, I said ‘yes.’ I packed my bags and drove to Chicago that evening. During the interview, the staff expressed how impressed they were that I drove overnight to make it. Twenty-four hours later, I accepted an offer for the job. I like to think that opportunity was a test I passed with my Yes Man attitude.

Once you’ve made a positive impression, keep the ball rolling. I started my job two days after graduation with residual momentum from the whirlwind interview process. I poured that energy into mastering my daily responsibilities. But as soon as I felt comfortable with those, I offered to take on more.

Here’s one way to show initiative: routinely ask your manager what you can do for them outside of your assigned tasks. Pop into your manager’s office and ask, “Is there anything I help you with before I leave today?” If there’s an opportunity to learn something new or make something better, then smile, say ‘yes,’ and take it.

Be persistent. If you always make an effort to exceed expectations, then your managers will eventually notice. In a fast-paced media environment, managers don’t always have the time to pull you aside for feedback. But don’t let that discourage you. I knew I was making an impact when my producer began entrusting me with duties beyond my job description and more consistent with hers. Keep taking advantage of every opportunity and do it with a positive attitude.

So, set your DVR. Tell your friends you’re going to be late for happy hour. Commit to say ‘yes’...to longer hours, to more work and responsibilities. It’s not always fun, and it’s definitely not easy. But adopting this attitude has helped me gain the respect and trust of my colleagues, positioning myself for success now and in the future.

Best of Luck,

Courtney Cebula
BJ ‘10 Convergence
Oprah Radio production assistant


Check out the rest of the Letters Home series

Editor's note: If you're a Mizzou journalism alum who would like to contribute to the Letters Home series, send us an email at onamizzou@gmail.com with your letter, your name, your sequence and graduation year, your current job and contact information.

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