UT Alumni Panel Shares PR Tips Through Personal Experiences

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Ashley Schlosser, Alison Kwong, and Adrienne Newcomb (left to right) posing before the meeting on Sept. 23, 2014.

By: Cody Church

In the wake of a celebration touting the future of public relations for the newly dubbed Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations at The University of Texas at Austin, UT PRSSA assembled a panel of alumni to speak about the challenges they faced entering the job market as well as to offer advice to current students. The juxtaposition of past, present and future on this day created an environment of hope and passion for those who attended. The panel consisted of Alison Kwong, Adrienne Newcomb, and Ashley Schlosser – each of whom is an established PR professional. Offering differing perspectives, the panel imparted the significance of perseverance and ambition, a theme reinforced throughout the presentation.

Alison Kwong, a PR specialist at National Instruments, spoke first. She was very active in college and kept busy with internships and extracurricular activities. Any college adviser would have been very proud of her, but she emphasized that internships, while impressive, won’t guarantee anyone a job. “The ones that show initiative are the ones I want on my team,” Kwong stated. Earlier in the evening she stressed the importance of honing writing skills while in college. The message she conveyed is clear – though she believes internships are crucial, the quality of work will always outshine the quantity of internships.

The next speaker, Adrienne Newcomb, embodies this idea. In college, she didn’t have the quantity of internships that most students would strive for. Instead, she related the experience gained at her previous jobs to PR in order to create valuable leverage. Newcomb, an assistant account executive at PPR Worldwide today, spoke extensively about how she would organize events for her employers and take charge of their social media accounts; so while she did not have a formal internship, she was still able to demonstrate competency in skills necessary for PR professionals. When asked what advice she would give to herself as a freshman, Newcomb, replied, “I wish I would have gotten involved sooner,” but she was extremely confident that the basic skills she picked up along the way, even from a job that she hated, gave her the solid foundation she needed to find her dream job.

Ashley Schlosser, our chapter’s liaison and the final speaker, focused mostly on confidence for students applying for internships or looking for jobs after graduation. She recalled a time when her voice was so shrill on a conference call that a professor had to stop her and ask her to calm down. Schlosser, the founder and owner of Live Out Loud PR, told UT PRSSA that the best piece of advice she received in college was simply to calm down, regain composure and speak with confidence. She also added that the scramble for jobs and internships can seem like it is a competition at times, but advised the students in the room to remember that “not everyone is running the same race; don’t be intimidated by other people.”

During the Q&A portion of the meeting, all three speakers were in a agreement that being personable during an interview can often make one stand out as the best candidate for the job. Sharing personal stories, finding something in common with the interviewer, or simply making a joke during the interview can set one apart from the others.

As the meeting drew to a close, students lined up on the stage to continue the discussion. The future certainly looks bright for the students of the Stan Richards School and members of PRSSA, thanks in part to our wonderful panel who were willing to share their stories and paint a clearer picture of what life is like after graduation.

Summer Internship Showcase – Non-PR

Aparna (right) and a fellow intern after meeting the star of "Sharknado 2: The Second One" on premiere night.

Aparna (right) and a fellow intern after meeting the star of “Sharknado 2: The Second One” on premiere night.

Aparna Kumar is a senior and is interning at NBCUniversal in the production department at Syfy in New York. Aparna says that she has learned so much more than she could have imagined coming in.

In production, she is mostly working to create graphics overlays and cut clips from movies and television shows for use in promos and sales reels. Aparna is also responsible for digitizing tapes of movies that are sent in by producers for Syfy to air on television. “Even though I don’t watch Syfy’s original content, it’s been great to be a part of the team that works to promote these shows,” Aparna said. “And I’ve definitely had a blast working on the campaign for ‘Sharknado 2: The Second One’ that came out this month.”

Aparna’s favorite thing about her internship has been getting to perfect her technical skills in programs like Final Cut and After Effects, of which she only knew Final Cut coming in, and of course, getting to work at “30 Rock.” “Sometimes when I’m walking through the door in the morning, I try and channel Tina Fey’s energy and it gets me through my day,” Aparna said. “Plus, it’s great that the production team is so laid-back and I get to come to work in jeans and sneakers if I want to.”

The way she heard about her internship was when NBCUniversal came to recruit at UT back in February. First, Aparna submitted her resume through the Communication Career Services portal. Then, she got called back for an interview with a recruiter. After, she had to record a timed video interview through the NBC portal, and finally she received an email from her current supervisor for a phone interview a few weeks later.

“If I were to give anyone advice on how to land an internship outside the realm of PR or companies in Austin, it would absolutely be to take advantage of Career Services. I never thought I would get to spend my summer working for one of my dream companies and it’s been an incredible experience so far.”

 

Hillary Hurst is a junior and is interning at C3 Presents in Austin, Texas.hillary

C3 has taught her many important skills during the summer, such as thinking on your feet and being open to new experiences.

Hillary is a floater intern, which means she works in all departments. Because of her position, she is able to see how the office runs as a cohesive entity. “Everyone in the office is so friendly and cool,” Hillary said. “I felt so welcomed, and it’s nice to get an idea of the kind of environment I would like to work in once I graduate.”

One of the most interesting things about her internship is that C3 puts on events, including the Austin City Limits Festival and Lollapalooza, so it’s fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at how those intricate events are executed. “I’ve been attending ACL for the past six years, so it’s awesome to see the other side of the music,” Hillary said.

Summer Internship Showcase – Nonprofit

Abigail

Abz (left) and another LIVESTRONG intern before shooting a thank you video to send to donors.

Abigail Zeitler, or better known as Abz, is a junior and is interning at LIVESTRONG in Austin, Texas. One of the main things she has learned is that nonprofits have many more aspects to them than just what people assume. Abz is currently the stewardship intern on the development side of LIVESTRONG and had no idea just how much development plays in the inner workings of a nonprofit. Development and stewardship were two career paths she had never considered before this internship.

“LIVESTRONG is an incredible place to intern,” Abz said. “You should visit if you can. The people are inspirational and every day I learn something new. I am encouraged to be all that I can be as an intern here and to do incredible things with my life.” Interns are also able to participate in events, fundraising and anything going on at LIVESTRONG.

The way she found this internship was through a friend who thought it’d be a good fit for her. As for future plans, Abz will possibly be interning with her PRSSA mentor next fall. “That is a great connection that PRSSA gave me!”

 

Nikki

Nikki (top) providing input and helping to plan the 2014 Texas CASA Conference.

Nikki Dulay is a junior and is interning at Texas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), a nonprofit in Austin, Texas that advocates for children in the foster care system through local CASA program across the state. Through this internship, Nikki has really grown in her writing and editing skills. She has also learned about Google Analytics, how to manage a website and social media accounts and event planning by helping out with a conference that Texas CASA is hosting this fall in Galveston. As her first internship, she has also learned a lot about how to work in an office and how to collaborate with other people and departments effectively.

“Besides the fact that I work with really awesome people in the Training and Communications Department, I love that there are different departments all working towards the same mission,” Nikki said. “ It’s always interesting hearing what everyone else is doing and getting to learn more about the nonprofit sector as a whole and not just communications.”

Nikki received this internship because of another member in PRSSA. During her interview, she also talked about some of the work she had done in PRSSA since it was on her resume. In addition, her interviewer was a member of PRSA, so it was great to have that connection.

“Prior to this internship, I thought all nonprofits were pretty much the same: fundraising and volunteering,” Nikki said. “At Texas CASA, we provide resources and assistance to county programs and help them grow so we can work towards our ultimate mission. This has opened my eyes to see just how broad the nonprofit industry is. Each organization is a unique world that works for their specific mission that ultimately wants to give back to others and make the world a better place.”

Summer Internship Showcase – In-House

Alyssa Neilson is a senior and is interning in New York at Barney’s New York, an in-house public relations department. “We do our own work while kind of treating the high-fashion brands we sell like clients,” Alyssa said. “We push a lot of products. It’s a unique sort of atmosphere since it’s a department store.”

One of the main things she has learned is that working in PR is a really demanding job – but it’s also super rewarding. She is also learning a lot more about writing media releases for fashion media outlets since the style of writing is different than traditional press releases.

Her favorite thing about this internship is managing social media accounts. Whenever there are new designer products in the Los Angeles or New York City store, she gets to tweet and post to Instagram about it. “Barney’s just partnered with NBA’s Russell Westbrook and he was here two weeks ago doing social media in their office!” Alyssa said. “He did an ‘Instagram style takeover,’ so it was really unique and cool.”

Although she didn’t get this internship through PRSSA, she believes that being in PRSSA always helps your pursuits. “People love to see when you’re passionate about this field and actually involved in the PR world prior to graduating and getting your PR degree.”

 

EmmaEmma DeCaro is a senior and is interning at the Chick-fil-A Home Office in Atlanta. She has learned about the power of storytelling and that there must be an equal focus on results and relationships; without one, the other cannot be as strong. “If you want a remarkable career experience, you need to work for something you care and are passionate about, otherwise work will be stressful,” Emma said. Most importantly, she has learned through weekly devotions how prayer changes everything. In addition, she has learned about entrepreneurship, working in a restaurant, good stewardship, supply chains, waste streams, event planning, the relationship journalists have with Twitter, putting thought behind every decision, the value of creativity and more.

What she loves about her internship is the authenticity of the people who work at Chick-fil-Emma2A. The interns spent an entire day with CEO Dan Cathy touring the city of Atlanta to learn the history of Chick-fil-A and then went over to his home for dinner and outdoor recreation.

“Tell me of another company CEO who will do that and I’ll be impressed!” Emma said. “Chick-fil-A cares about each of us holistically – they have invested a lot in our development. From providing us each with a Strengths Finder test and personalized one-hour assessment, to taking us to WinShape Wilderness for ropes course team building, to inviting marketing interns on their overnight storytelling retreat, to letting us be a team member in a restaurant for a day, Chick-fil-A is equipping us to not only be better business people, but also better people in general.”

“At Chick-fil-A, people are not just a number – they are family. It has been a true pleasure to be part of Chick-fil-A this summer. Hook ‘em and Eat More Chicken!”

 

KCKristen C. Munoz, or KC as her friends call her, is a senior and is a communications & marketing intern at Austin Resource Recovery in Austin, Texas. Austin Resource Recovery provides a variety of residential services to curbside customers in Austin. They are a department of the City of Austin whose goal is to reach zero waste by the year 2040.

Before she started working at Austin Resource Recovery, she would throw an aluminum can in the recycling bin every once in a while and maybe rinse and recycle a plastic tub when it was convenient. KC didn’t know why she was doing these things; all she knew was if she put items in these bins they would be taken away. What she has learned at Austin Resource was that the place these materials go to is very real, and it can either help or hurt us in the long run. Working at Austin Resource Recovery has given KC the opportunity to see the impact that reducing waste truly has on the world around us. “It’s more than just placing things in the right bin,” KC said. “It is knowing that every little decision we make affects the environment around us.”

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”                       – Robert Swan.

Her favorite thing about this internship has definitely been getting to work with the marketing team because they made her feel like an equal part of the team. Over these past weeks, she was able to lead meetings, develop website and social media content, organize press conferences and put together media kits. The responsibilities KC was given here allowed her to grow as an intern in more ways than one. “I have seen programs develop from start to finish and let me tell you, there is nothing cooler than seeing your team’s efforts make a positive change in the city you love.”

 

Summer Internship Showcase – Agency

Kelly

Kelly (left) and another fellow intern working the LA Film Festival on behalf of the film ID represented, “The Road Within.”

Kelly Groves is currently a senior and is interning at ID Public Relations in Los Angeles. “ID-PR is at the heart of all entertainment and I have truly learned why their name comes from the word ‘identity,’” Kelly said. “ID works to shape and define some of the best talent, brands, films, studios, and companies in the nation and has successfully become the intersection of entertainment public relations and brand communications.”

Kelly’s favorite part about this internship is all of the networking opportunities she has had by working at red carpet events, going to photo shoots, and even just going to lunch with ID’s welcoming employees. “I can’t wait to move to LA to start my career in the entertainment public relations industry!”

 

Elizabeth

Elizabeth (right) filming her boss for a video blog that just started this summer. Elizabeth, who is in charge of editing and filming, has helped her boss garner new business!

Elizabeth Chavez is currently a senior and is interning at a small agency in Austin, Texas, called Kimberly Strenk Public Relations, Inc. Over the past few weeks she has learned that it’s important to create learning opportunities for yourself by taking initiative and asking for what you want.

“My favorite thing about my internship is that I am given a lot of responsibility,” Elizabeth said. “The things I do in the office are new and exciting for me, but ultimately I know it will be going directly to the client, so the work must be professional.”

Elizabeth learned about this internship through the career service database and says that she used her experience from PRSSA to help her get the job because of her lack of prior pre-professional experience.

8 Tips for Incoming Freshmen

1. Stay organized

Whether you use a planner, a phone calendar or a piece of paper, stay organized and know your due dates because they will creep up on you quickly.

2. Be involved

Joining a club, organization or team is one of the best ways to make new friends and create unforgettable memories. There are hundreds of different organizations on campus, so you’re bound to find an organization that really interests you.

3. Take advantage of opportunities

From internships to volunteer events, any opportunity that will allow you to get career experience is a great way to learn. Although having a 4.0 is a great accomplishment, having relevant experience is what professionals look at when hiring new interns and employees – so start early!

4. Do things that scare you

One of the best ways to learn about yourself is to get out of your comfort zone. Even if you don’t have a friend to drag along with you, go to that dorm event or join that organization. The best opportunities will happen when you challenge yourself to do something new.

5. Try not to procrastinate

The keyword is “try.” It’s going to happen, but try your best to stay proactive and up-to-date. Take breaks when necessary, but make sure to get your work done in a timely manner.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

There are so many helpful professors, students and resources at this university; you’re not alone.

7. Don’t worry about having your future figured out

Everyone expects you to have the next four years planned out, but it’s totally okay to not know what you want to do and to change your major (once or even several times). Find your passion and pursue that. Don’t just choose a major because you’ll make a lot of money. Actually find something you enjoy and everything else will fall into place.

8. Be yourself

College is a fresh start. Do yourself a favor and don’t be something you’re not. Do what makes you happy, and in the end, people are going to like you for you!

Farewell to our May 2014 Graduates!

Name: Katie DoanKatie Doan2

Major: Public Relations, Business Foundations

Hometown: Chicago, Ill

Future Plans: After graduation I will be moving back to Chicago to work at a small agency that focuses on corporate communications called Reputation Partners.

Advice to Underclassman: Never underestimate the power of networking. It may be uncomfortable but it gets easier with practice, and learning how to build relationships with people is an integral part of the communications field.

 

Regina FName: Regina Flanigan, former Vice President of Chapter Development

Major/Minor: English/Business

Hometown: Portland, Texas

Future Plans: Working in public relations or communication, and definitely becoming a mentor to PRSSA members!

Advice to Underclassmen: Don’t be afraid to take positions in similar fields like advertising, marketing or corporate communications – there is always more to learn about this industry, especially when so much of it overlaps. Learn how to take feedback. And don’t forget that networking isn’t just for professionals. The people you meet here could be your coworkers, the interns you manage, or your fellow future industry leaders. What starts here changes the world and that begins with us.

 

Name: Amanda Grindele, former VP of Special EventsAmanda Grindele

Major: Public Relations, Business Foundations

Hometown: Rowlett, Texas

Future Plans: I will be going into technical sales with Oracle and working from their Austin offices. From then on, I’ll just be rolling with the punches. Eventually, however, I would like to end up back in Dallas, possibly in a digital consulting role.

Advice to Underclassmen: My biggest piece of advice, and something I wish I would have understood as a freshman and sophomore, is that proactively seeking out and pursuing what you want is the only way you’re going to get it. Above all else – grades, an impressive resume, clout, etc. – employers want to see ambition and fearlessness. You are no more and no less capable than you believe yourself to be.

 

Name: Laura Lee HarrisLaura Lee Harris

Major: Public Relations, Business Foundations

Hometown: Coppell, Texas

Future Plans: Work in the events industry

Advice to Underclassmen: People always tell you to network, volunteer and intern, but only do if you are going above and beyond so that your superiors in these situations                                                                                            will remember and recommend you.

 

Name: Aly Kasberg, former VP of Public Relations

Aly Kasberg

Major: Public Relations, Business Foundations, TexasMedia Sequence

Hometown: New Braunfels, Texas

Future Plans: Moving to Chicago to work at Digitas as a Media Planner

Advice to Underclassmen: College is what you make it! This University will present you will some stellar opportunities, but it’s up to you to take them. Never be afraid to go after what you want!

 

amy lachName: Amy Lach

Major: Public Relations, Business Foundations

Hometown: The Woodlands, Texas

Future Plans: I aspire to pursue a career in corporate event planning and/or community relations. After traveling in Europe for a month after graduation, I look forward to starting work in either Austin or Houston.

Advice to Underclassmen: Start interning early on in college to gain experience and get a better idea of what you want to do after graduation. If you have the opportunity to study abroad, do it! Living and studying in another country will enhance your perspective of the world. Finally, work hard but don’t forget to have fun, because it’s the relationships you form in college that can last a lifetime.

 

Name: Austin Malcolm, former PresidentAustin Malcolm

Major: Public Relations, Business Foundations

Hometown: Denton, Texas

Future Plans: Assistant Director of iD Tech Camp at Stanford University

Advice to Underclassmen: My advice would be something that seems obvious but is commonly overlooked. You are young. You will be young for another 10 years. That means you have another 10 years of making mistakes, getting in awkward situations, and constantly being embarrassed. Don’t beat yourself up about anything in life right now, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.” – Miss Frizzle

 

Morgan PesanteName: Morgan Pesante

Major: Public Relations, Business Foundations

Hometown: Denton, Texas

Future Plans: I will be interning at FleishmanHillard Austin this summer.

Advice to Underclassmen: Enjoy every moment of your time at UT because it’s precious. Make lifelong friends and memories. Try not to stress about the little things because everything always has a way of working itself out in the end.

 

Name: Samantha SubarSamantha S

Major: Public Relations, Business Foundations, TexasMedia Sequence

Hometown: Plano, Texas

Future Plans: Public Relations Associate for Spredfast

Advice to Underclassmen: Network and work hard at your internships, they could turn into something!

 

Name: Monica RodriguezMonica Rodz

Major: Public Relations, Business Foundations

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Future Plans: Accepted full-time account coordinator position in Austin at Steel Branding

Advice to Underclassmen: Don’t compare yourself to others. Your time will come and it will all be worth it. Make sure you keep an open mind because the world of PR can take you anywhere.

 

Maria VName: Maria Villasenor

Major: Public Relations, Business Foundations

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

Future Plans: To stay in Austin and practice PR in the tech field, preferably the gaming industry.

Advice to Underclassmen: There are so many opportunities and resources available. Don’t wait, take advantage of everything.

 

Congratulations to our graduates! We can’t wait to see the many amazing things you all accomplish. Time to change the world!