Alumni Spotlight: Kelly Aratoon

Kelly Aratoon
Kelly Aratoon, a May 2011 graduate, received her bachelor's degree in public relations, with a New Media certificate and a minor in political science.

What are you doing now and how did you get there? I work at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in Washington D.C., doing marketing and communication in our political affairs and federation relations department. I work with membership, social media, political events, and continuing education programs of the Chamber to guarantee members stay informed and happy while ensuring longstanding programs of the Chamber continue to run smoothly.

I took an interesting route to my current position. Before my senior year at Georgia, I 
was hired as an Account Coordinator at a Washington D.C. public relations agency which I worked at through graduation. In addition to my thick Grady coursework, my senior capstone for NMI, and all the extra-curricular activities I was involved in (sorority, Grady Ambassadors, Student Alumni Council) I figured adding a real job to this was no problem. I started each morning with a conference call with my team in DC and ended with a daily update email sent around 6:00 or 7:00 pm, and that was before homework and typically while I was en route to a meeting. It was pretty crazy. This year of experience was a main factor in me being awarded my current position. While I was a bit leery of applying for a job at such a high-profile organization, it was a great decision.

What is your day-to-day like at your job? (Any interesting projects that you can

share with us?) Currently, I manage the website and all social media accounts for a professional development program of the Chamber, Institute for Organization Management. I just went through a complete transformation of one of my websites, so I am very happy to see it thriving. I also design all marketing efforts for Institute, which include: a 80-page planner, direct mailing, and eMarketing projects. I am also working on a new membership campaign called pURL. Standing for Personalized URL, pURL goes beyond a mere membership pitch and asks specific questions to recipients about their experience with the Chamber. The idea of a pURL is relatively new in the marketing field and I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to run the first pURL campaign the Chamber has put together. Not to mentions, with the election coming in November the Chamber is a very exciting place to work!

What part of your Grady experience (classes, professors, etc.) has been helpful in

your career today? The New Media Certificate by far. Scott Shamp’s leadership, enthusiasm and dedication to this program is remarkable. I am so happy I got into this program sophomore year and even happier I learned how to build websites thanks to Dr. Emuel Aldridge. Without his patience, I would never seem like such the WordPress or Flash expert. I still use those packets he creates! Dr. Karen Russell has also been an inspirational instructor. I was placed in her freshman seminar class on Walmart and our relationship has been very close ever since.
In college, I never would have considered myself a writer or someone that even enjoyed doing it. Grady taught me how to write so people actually listen. 
What is your favorite Grady memory? Presenting to The Coca-Cola Company definitely tops the list of favorable moments. My public relations capstone class project was to design the PR campaign for PlantBottle, the new container all Coca-Cola products were soon to be shipped in. I somehow got designated to introduce and conclude the presentation, in addition to speak about the section I was in charge of, which was both exhilarating and frightening. I am never one to be nervous of public speaking, but speaking in front of this group of people was intense!

What advice do you have for current AdPR students? In college, I never would have considered myself a writer or someone that even enjoyed doing it. Grady taught me how to write so people actually listen. My advice to current AdPR students is to immerse yourself in the journalistic field, get the New Media Certificate, ask for help from the fabulous professors Grady has to offer, and let people in Grady know what you are doing. The best way for a great new opportunity to find you is when others know what you like to do and what you are good at. When that opportunity does come around -- follow up, follow up, follow up. I promise you are not being annoying.

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