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Ann Marie van den Hurk: at 21, “all I knew was that I wanted to change the world”

In the pursuit of self improvement, the first step is to ask the experts how they got to where they are, so today we sit down with a well known crisis manager to ask how she became so successful.

Pointing the way forward

Ann Marie van den Hurk is a well known public relations, marketing, and social media expert who is a published columnist, and is a budding foodie in her spare time. We had the privilege of talking with her not only about what makes her tick, but what advice she has to share not only with millennials, but for all business professionals.

Check out the interview below and share your thoughts in the comments:

Tell us about your current work – what do you do?

I’m a public relations practitioner by profession and passion. I’m the principal of Mind The Gap Public Relations firm which focuses on crisis communications and social media integration as well as all other aspects of public relations. I get to work with some great clients, mostly nonprofits, helping them solve problems and get their voice heard. When I’m not working with my clients, I’m a newspaper columnist on public relations/marketing/social media geared towards small organizations, and I blog at

How did you get into your current role? What was that path like?

I had been in nonprofit for my whole career and I thought I would be there forever. I loved what I was doing and the people. I believed deeply in the mission. Then I had an opportunity six years ago to explore other options within my field when I had a baby and we moved for my husband’s career. That’s when I got involved in social media. And everything evolved from there.

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If you said ten years ago that I’d be running my own firm, I would have thought you were nuts. And if you told me three years ago I’d be writing a newspaper column, I would have laughed at you. You never know where the path will take you. I’m glad I was open to all opportunities presented.

What were you doing at age 21?

I was finishing up my undergraduate degree at the University of Delaware in International Relations. I was trying to figure out what the heck was my place in the world once I was done being a student. All I knew was that I wanted to change the world.

How has your professional life evolved since then?

I’ve found my place in the world as a professional. And in my own way, I am changing the world. My profession allows me to give people their voice and amplify it so it is heard making change happen.

Though I’m still evolving and who knows where I’ll be in ten years for now… I believe life should always be in beta and changing.

What advice do you have for Millennials struggling to get a job?

Can you empathize or offer words of wisdom? One my professor shared with us that there was a phrase we needed to learn if we chose not to go on to get an advance degree with our majors and that was “Would you like fries with your burger?” That was a scary phrase to hear when you are about to graduate. I graduated in 1993 and the job outlook wasn’t great. Sort of like it is now. You have to be flexible keeping all options open because you won’t know where it may take you.

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I’m going to sound like that old guy who screams get off the lawn, but a good attitude will get you places… don’t act entitled and that you know it all. When I’m hiring, I’m looking for skills, but I’m also looking for attitude and someone wanting to learn and share. While I can train you for skills, I can’t train for attitude.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.



  1. amvandenhurk

    November 8, 2012 at 10:45 am

    @kamichat thanks! Hope I don’t scar anyone with my advice. ;0)

  2. amvandenhurk

    November 8, 2012 at 10:46 am

    @AmyVernon @agbeat Thanks!

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