Young Professionals Panel Recap

By Melanie Metzman.

Bloomington, Ind. — Last Wednesday, September 24, PRSSA hosted a Young Professionals Panel with recent IU grads Amy Bishop from Digital Relevance, Matt Zetzl from Ratio Architects, Kendall Bybee from Hirons, Courtney Stiehl from Bohlsen Group, and Victoria Fields, who will shortly be moving to Cook Medical Group.

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Panelists from left to right: Amy Bishop (DigitalRelevance), Matt Zetzl (RATIO Architects), Victoria Fields (Cook Medical Group), Kendall Bybee (Hirons), and Courtney Stiehl (Bolsen Group). Picture by Tori Lawhorn.

The panel discussed how they got their first jobs, what it’s like to work an entry level position, and gave their best interview and resume tips. They ended the panel with a Q&A, fielding questions from the audience and those who tweeted at @iuPRSSA with the hashtag #YoungPRos.

Here are their biggest pieces of advice for aspiring PR mavens:

1. Get experience and start to build your network early

Get involved in PRSSA, especially the Bateman Competition, which is a great bragging point on your resume.

Also, start interning early, ideally as a freshman. Agency internships are competitive, so start small with a nonprofit. You’ll be gaining real experience and helping a great cause at the same time. Matt Zetzl pointed out it’s important to start building your network because the people you work with will become your references and will likely help you find your first job after graduation.

2. Diversify your skillset

PRSSA members gather in EP 214 to listen and send in questions to our #YoungPRos panel.
PRSSA members gather in EP 214 to listen and send in questions to our #YoungPRos panel. Picture by Tori Lawhorn

In the real PR world, you have to be able to juggle many different roles. No job will only be PR, so you should understand all sides of the communications business, including marketing and sales. Amy Bishop has a marketing minor and Kendall took graphic design classes as electives. All of the panelists recommended that students take classes on technology, photography, graphic design, and business to make themselves more marketable for internships and jobs, and to better understand the PR once you’re in it after graduation.

The panelists also suggested exploring the different committees within PRSSA (especially the Bateman Competition in which teams implement a full PR campaign) and find what you’re passionate about. Many of the panelists participated in the Bateman competition while at IU, and used it in on their resume and interviews to get the jobs they have now.

Above all, make the best of your education and IU!

3. Use social media to your advantage

People really do check out your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Keep everything professional and use it to brand yourself. Courtney Stiehl, who loves photography, discussed how she posts her professional pictures on Instagram. This is a major part of building her personal brand and making herself attractive to employers.

Your LinkedIn profile is especially important. Amy Bishop said that she looks at LinkedIn profiles and not resumes. This is not to say your resume is irrelevant, but you should work just as hard on your LinkedIn account as your resume because recruiters can interviewers will be looking at both closely.

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