What are you doing now and how did you get there? I'm working at Edelman in Washington, D.C. as an assistant account executive on the Food & Nutrition Team. Knowing that Edelman would provide me with the best experience and training in my field, I applied for the summer internship program prior to graduation. I interviewed for the position and was hired to start in June 2012 on the Food & Nutrition Team. Edelman's internship program is a little different from other companies in that if you're doing an exceptional job after three months, you may have the option to extend your internship for an additional three months. So, after three months of interning I was extended, and then a month later I was hired as a full-time employee on my team. I have been an AAE on the team for about six months now.
What activities were you involved while in Grady/UGA?
- Active member of PRSSA. I served on a variety of PRSSA committees (Service & Outreach Committee; Publications Committee; Publicity Committee; Mentoring Committee)
- I was involved in Creative Consultants for three years serving as a member (for YogaSprouts), assistant account executive (for Porter Novelli's pro-bono client, The Jack& Jill Late-Stage Cancer Foundation) and account executive (for the UGA Women's Ultimate Team)
- I took part in the UGA Agency Tour in D.C.
- Intern with the Grady College Communications/External Relations Team my last year in school.
- Tutor at Chase Street Elementary School.
- Member of the Golden Key International Honor Society.
- Member of the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority.
What is your day-to-day like at your job? (Any interesting projects that you can share with us?) Because I work on a variety of different accounts, my day is never the same and constantly shifting! But that's quite typical in an agency setting. Some days are devoted to primarily one client, while on other days I can be working on as many as four or five accounts. This work could include media pitching, developing materials such as a press release, talking points and scripts, coordinating logistics for upcoming events, staffing events and compiling media coverage reports.
One thing that always remains the same though is reading the day’s news. I usually spend at least 30 minutes of my day—no matter how busy—reading through clips so that I'm fully knowledgeable about what is going on in the F&N world. Also, Edelman does a wonderful job at providing learning and growth opportunities within the company. So, during any given week I may take part in a diversity training or an Excel how-to course. There are so many opportunities for growth here.
One client I work on is Walmart and its Healthier Food Initiative. In February of this year we held an event at a store in Springfield, Mo. to celebrate the progress Walmart has achieved in making healthy foods more affordable in just three years. What’s more, the First Lady Michelle Obama was interested in celebrating that progress in conjunction with the third anniversary of her Let’s Move! campaign. I worked alongside the Edelman team to manage store event logistics and optics, both in advance and on-site, draft and revise podium remarks, Q&A, fact sheets, talking points for influencer and media calls, and more. It was an incredible experience!
What part of your Grady experience (classes, professors, etc.) has been helpful in your career today? All of it! Grady set me up for success. Between Campaigns, Research, Graphic Design classes, I built a strong foundation to start my PR career and am so appreciative of the learning and support I received from the college. Not to mention the staff and professors provided such positive and valuable direction.
What is your favorite Grady memory? In addition to attending the UGA Agency Tour in Washington, D.C., I also really enjoyed ADPRConnection, a networking event with companies from all over Georgia. The event was planned and created by Grady students. I served on the Social Media Committee for this event so it was neat to have both a behind-the-scenes perspective, and then actually get the chance to network with companies and organizations of interest to me. In addition to this, I had so many great memories interning for the Grady College. One that stands out is getting to plan and attend the Grady Alumni Gala, where I was able to meet distinguished graduates from Grady.
I built a strong foundation to start my PR career and am so appreciative of the learning and support I received from the college.What advice do you have for current AdPR students? I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but the value of networking is crucial in this industry. I attended the UGA Agency Tour when I was in school, and that's where I met someone from the F&N Team at Edelman, who ended up actually interviewing me for the position. Also, when you meet professionals in the field try to send a personal, hand-written thank-you card or note. You’d be surprised how few students actually take time to write these and how much they are appreciated—and noticed. And don't be shy about following up. I know when you don't hear back from someone you might think they're just not interested, but often times they're just super busy, so be sure to diligently and politely follow up. And be tenacious! You want to try your best to be memorable and stand out.
While in school, try and get as much writing experience—of all different forms—as possible. Whether it's writing an email to a client, developing a pitch for a reporter, creating a webinar script or speech, or providing analysis on a particular subject, excellent writing is essential in our world. And it's not always about learning one particular writing style. You may be called on to write web copy, social media content, brochures, speeches, briefing documents and client memos, so keep learning and expanding your writing skills and experiences. And of course, AP writing style is still very important in our business, also.