Communications Interns Step Into the Real World at PR Conference

Real World PR PRSA (2)

Twain Carter ’14, Leslie Peters ’15, Christie Pearce ’15 and Kai Street ’14

Interns in Pegasus Creative, Oglethorpe’s student communications agency, recently attended the annual Real World PR Conference for college students, hosted by the Public Relations Society of America in February.

During the all-day event, the students were able to learn more about PR careers and to ask questions of industry leaders from Chick-fil-A, Georgia Aquarium, Delta Air Lines, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia Power, Cox Enterprise, and CNN, among others. Panelists gave helpful tips and anecdotal advice about a wide range of topics including personal branding, the HR perspective of interviewing and the fast- paced environment of entertainment PR.

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For senior Kai Street ’14, the conference proved to be a compass for his professional path. “I came out of the conference with knowledge, a new network of people, and a new direction to take in terms of my professional career,” said Kai, who  participated in the conference’s career fair, which offered internship and networking opportunities and was “a great place to put one’s name out in the public and connect with professionals.”

Twain Carter ’14 found that the conference gave him a renewed confidence in what he is learning in the classroom, confirming that “once I graduate, I will be prepared for anything thrown my way.” But for Christie Pearce ’15, the conference offered a clear detour sign. “I wanted some guidance on the direction I should be going for my communications career and indeed confirmed that PR is not for me,” she admitted.

Similarly, I also now have a better sense of what a PR career might entail, but I’m not sure that being a part of the fast-paced world of PR fits who I am and my career goals–something good to discover sooner than later.

“Regardless of whether a student plans to pursue PR or not,” said Christie, “the panelists had a lot of insight about professionalism, interviewing, and career etiquette that is valuable to everyone.”

Telling My Story: Lessons Learned by a Psych Major in the PR World

Through my internship with Pegasus Creative, Oglethorpe’s student communications agency, I recently had the opportunity to attend Real World PR, an annual conference held by the Public Relations Society of America (Georgia chapter) for students interested in public relations.

As I waited for the conference to begin, I chatted with a group of students who had traveled more than 12 hours to attend. Fortunately, being in Atlanta afforded me this, and many similar opportunities, without an exhausting commute. When the other students attending began listing their majors, all fell under the communications umbrella. I was the lone psychology major.  I questioned, how does that fit into the PR world? But, as the conference progressed, I began to learn that my major was just one of many angles to my own story I could share to promote my skills and attributes.

The keynote speaker at the conference was Jodie Charlop, an executive coach. She described her seemingly disjointed career path, but went on to explain the common themes in her repertoire of experiences. She encouraged us to work on weaving together our many experiences to create a story—our own story.

Similar to Charlop, my own resume reflects my exploration into what I should do in life and for a living. I have been a circulation assistant in a library, worked as a resident assistant, interned at a consulting company, and currently work with international students at EF (Education First) and in Oglethorpe’s Career Services office in addition to interning at Pegasus. Needless to say, with the exception of my current internship as the Public Relations Specialist at Pegasus Creative, the rest of my resume does not exactly fit the PR mold.

I began to understand how relevant Charlop’s talk was to me and my challenge. Throughout the rest of the day, as I began to attend more sessions, I began to think how I could use my major and variety of experiences as ways to stand out and be memorable.

During a session about PR niches and myths, PR professionals from companies like Moe’s and Children’s Health Care of Atlanta spoke about their stories and experience in PR. When asked about their backgrounds, all stated that they were undergrads in communications, with the exception of one, another psychology major. It was then I realized I was not an odd man out after all. The point of the breakfast presentation began to sink in. PR is about how a company is presented, and as aspiring PR professionals, we can utilize the same strategies when presenting ourselves. We only need to tell our story in a compelling way.