A: In the summer of 2016, I was the digital communication intern at The PRIME and then I transitioned to the account management intern for the fall semester.
Q: Where do you currently work, in what city and what’s your title?
A: Right now, I am the communications writer for the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) in Blacksburg, VA. This involves writing and editing pieces for our website, social media, press releases and any other writing that needs to be done. I’ll interview people, do research for stories, take pictures and generally help out where I can.
Q: How does your internship with The PRIME Factory help you in your current job?
A: My time spent at The PRIME Factory helps me in life in general, but at my job, the experience I gained there is invaluable. The PRIME Factory put me in a situation to use my writing and editing skills in real-world settings, which helped me to become confident and taught me more writing styles. I learned how to network and work on projects with others when the outcomes were higher stakes than a grade in a class.
Q: What did The PRIME Factory teach you about what side of the communication industry you wanted to be in?
A: I knew I wanted to be in public relations, but I had no idea what that was going to look like for me post-graduation. My internships with The PRIME Factory made me realize that having a job heavy in writing was extremely important to me. Being able to try so many different areas at my internships and seeing which pieces I did and didn’t like was truly invaluable and helped my job search tremendously.
Q: Think back to when you were 17, 18, 19… Where did you see yourself after graduation, and are you happy where you ended up?
A: My younger self would be thrilled to see where I am and what I’m doing today. I am obsessively grateful to have gotten a job I adore before I even crossed the graduation stage. I’m so happy to be living at my alma mater, close to amazing friends and family, while doing work I am proud of.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to be in PR? If so, how did you know?
A: In high school, I went to a specialty school for mass communication where I learned about different fields in the communication industry. My high school experience, plus an internship in broadcast, helped cement my decision to go into PR before I started applying to colleges. Early on, I loved that PR was necessary in every industry and required precision, yet allowed me to be creative.
Q: What is one aspect of your current job that you love the most and why you love it?
A: I love that from the very beginning I was trusted to do big things. Whether it was interview a donor or hiring interns, working here has forced me, in the best way possible, to step up to the plate and be the best that I can be. I am thankful for and incredibly amazed by the autonomy I was given at 21 years old working for VCOM.
Q: In your role at VCOM, I’m sure you get to see the results of life-changing and innovative research being done. How does that motivate you in your PR role?
A: I don’t think I could sit behind a computer for 40 hours a week if it wasn’t work I truly stood behind. Every day, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have a job that I am passionate about. Researchers here are working on amazing, state-of-the-art advances to save lives and our students are living out the VCOM mission of getting medical care to the underserved in every phase of their lives – these are causes I want to champion and do everything I can to help with.
Q: Some people struggle with PR and see it as a trivial attempt of getting press coverage for companies. After being in the industry now, how would you respond to that?
A: PR is so much more than sending a blanket press release and hoping to hear back. While that is part of the job, so is sharing your company’s mission and telling the incredible stories for your people in a succinct, clear way. I now see PR as all-encompassing part of how we are communicating within ourselves as an organization and to those outside, both of which matter so much.
I think a lot people who aren’t familiar with PR think about it in relation to fixing an issue after something bad happens, but really it is a continual process that shares the good you are doing, more often than cleaning up a mistake.
Q: Where do you see your career in five years?
A: Four months post-grad, I am still grappling with this one, but I am more than okay with that, in fact, I am glad I’m not making decisions too far ahead just yet. Ideally, I will still be writing, more and better. I think I am at my best when I am leading others, so I can see myself working in a situation where I would do that. I can’t ever see myself leaving PR because I genuinely am passionate about it.
Q: What advice would you give public relations students who aren’t sure what side of the field to go into?
A: To any student that doesn’t know what they want to do, I would tell them that it is okay not to know! You have time no matter what part of your journey you’re on because it will work out and there is no “right time” or “right way” to do anything.
For public relations students especially, internships are essential. Even if you end up not liking them they show you what you don’t want to do and that’s just as valuable. You learn so much from being in a professional setting and those skills will transfer to whatever it is you end up doing. Of course, write as much as you can. Offer to write extra pieces at your internship, start a blog, or take more classes in college, whatever you can do to write more will help you and give you a diverse portfolio for later. When it comes to jobs, no matter what, keep trying until you find the right fit for you.
Q: Describe your journey from college to PRIME to VCOM using three descriptors.
A: Seamless. Confident. Fast.