What are you doing now and how did you get there?
I currently work for Novant Health in Charlotte, North Carolina in the public relations and marketing department. Novant Health is a not-for-profit healthcare system with 13 hospitals in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Novant provides healthcare services across the spectrum, as well as physician practices ranging from primary care to specialists.
I started my work with Novant through an internship in the public relations and marketing department the summer before my senior year of college. I lived in Charlotte for the summer and worked with the hospital on various projects. After I completed my internship, I knew I wanted to stay in the healthcare field. During my senior year, I got an internship with St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens. I continued my work with hospital communications and stayed in touch with Novant Health throughout the year.
Upon graduation, I took a job doing marketing and PR for one of Novant’s community hospitals in Gaffney, South Carolina. As the only person doing communications for this one hospital, the experience was invaluable my first year out of school.
After a year in Gaffney, I was able to move to the downtown Charlotte marketing department to represent four of Novant’s other hospitals. This transition allowed me to continue doing the same type of work but on a much larger scale. I have been in this position for about a year and will soon be moving into a corporate role in the department. The new role will allow me to work on projects that oversee all of Novant’s 13 hospitals. It has been great to move within the same department to covering different areas of the healthcare system. I have learned so much about the system overall and have gotten to work on a broad range of projects.
What is your day-to-day like at your job? (Any interesting projects that you can share with us?) Working in a PR and marketing department, every day is different. Whether I am conducting brainstorming meetings with my team, meeting with a doctor’s office to develop a marketing plan for a new physician coming on board or facilitating a press conference to announce a new partnership, I am always on the go and always connected to my email and phone. On a typical day, I can usually be found scanning social media sites, developing marketing plans and tracking measurements, tweaking budgets, responding to reactive media calls, editing articles, drafting press releases or writing website copy. The most interesting project I have worked on to date was being a part of the communications team that assisted in the opening of one of our newest hospitals. Being onsite during the grand opening, assisting with internal and external communications, media relations and events made for an overall awesome opportunity.
What part of your Grady experience (classes, professors, etc.) has been helpful in your career today? I could not be happier with my decision to be a part of Grady College. After an indecisive freshman year, I found myself diving head first into public relations. I have always loved writing, quotes, words and talking with people, so I thought it might be a good fit. And it was. From the professors and writing assignments to Creative Consultants and PRSSA meetings, I gained valuable skills, a new-found confidence in my career choice, and wonderful friends and colleagues. My campaigns class also played a major role in helping me gain real world experience in the life of a PR professional. To this day I keep a binder of notes from my PR classes on a shelf in my office. It amazes me how often I reference those notes on a day-to-day basis. UGA did a fantastic job of preparing me for the real world. I truly feel confident in my skills and know that I am contributing in my profession. I can’t thank Grady enough.
"I could not be happier with my decision to be a part of Grady College ... UGA did a fantastic job of preparing me for the real world."
What is your favorite Grady memory? I have many favorite Grady memories; it’s hard to pick just one. I think my most favorite memory is a funny one from my PR Law class my senior year. I pride myself on being early to everything. I hate being late. In my PR Law class, arriving to class five minutes early was considered on time. If you happen to arrive a minute late, you were at risk of having to take the final exam, without any chance of exemption. I never walked that line until one day I happen to miss my alarm. I scrambled out of bed and made it to class with one minute to spare. I always laugh about that experience when I arrive to meetings, appointments and media interviews between 10 and 15 minutes earlier. Now, I don’t ever risk being late. A first impression is invaluable, and I always like to start off on the right foot.
What advice do you have for current AdPR students? Always network -- before college, during college and after college. Network within your company, within UGA alumni groups, in your particular industry groups, on LinkedIn, at happy hours, at PRSA luncheons, at work conferences, on your after-work softball team and at the grocery store. You never know where your next job lead might be waiting. Networking opens up new doors to experiences you may have never thought possible. And, at the end of the day, if you meet someone and they don’t lead you to your dream job, you still made a new contact. Continue to network. It will take you places you could not get to on your own.