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.