Rachel Noerdlinger: The sky is most definitely the limit
Maryam Abdul-Aleem | 1/18/2012, 1:46 p.m.
"For one, it was a whole new exposure to the aspect of the media that I had never been exposed to. When you're dealing with political reporters and political pundits, you really have to sharpen your skills. Each day we were under public scrutiny in terms of every move that we made and being judged in some way."
Although Noerdlinger successfully tackled that new endeavor, she admits that when she entered the field of public relations, she did not have any experience.
After leaving college, she was in limbo about what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. Graduating from Mills College, an all-girl school in California, she went on to grad school at Teachers College of Columbia University. She said it "just seemed like the natural next step" after teaching various subjects to middle school students in Gambia, West Africa, in a program. She then got accepted to Columbia and came to New York City in 1993, but her heart wasn't in it.
"It was just too theoretical, too abstract--too many books, just too much," she said.
"I had no PR background whatsoever, but a friend of mine, when I was at Columbia grad school, mentioned to me that he had heard of this woman name Terrie Williams and that her firm was accepting interns, and I wanted a desperate out."
She didn't really have too much background on Williams, the public relations "guru" and author of "Black Pain; It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting," but got an internship from Williams that very same day.
She ended up working with Williams for eight years, eventually becoming vice president of the Terrie Williams agency. Sharpton came in as a client to the Terrie Williams agency where Noerdlinger and Rev. Sharpton "developed an amazing rapport," and the rest is history in the making.
Even though some people may have doubted her ability in public relations, especially after leaving grad school, she says she continued to press forward.
"I am an athlete. I was a tomboy growing up, so any obstacle I see as a challenge. I've always looked at life like that," she said. "So it was more of an incentive for me to succeed."