Featured Alumni

Tori Lawhorn

Cook Medical Written Content Specialist for Critical Care

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Bio: I am a May 2016 graduate of Indiana University where I dual majored in journalism, specializing in public relations and advertising, and communication and culture, specializing in rhetoric. I also have a minor in psychology. I was a proud Ernie Pyle Scholar of IU Journalism as well as a member of the Hutton Honors College. During my time at IU, I was heavily involved in the IU Public Relations Student Society of America, the Scholarship Advisory Committee within the IU Office of Scholarships, and various on-campus internships through IU Communications, IU Press, and the IU School of Public Health. I was also an IU Journalism student ambassador for my junior and senior years. I’m a born and raised “Army Brat,” moving 12 times before the age of 18. I’m fond of good coffee, animals, and minimalism. I also firmly believe in the power of the Oxford Comma.

What do you like most about your job?

As cheesy and cliché as it sounds, I like that fact that no day is the same. On Monday, I may be working on a product brochure for China, on Tuesday, I may be working on a datasheet for Australia, and on Wednesday, I may be working on a marketing guide for our entire team of North American-based sales reps. I go into the office each morning fully expecting to do one thing and I actually end up working on something completely different because of the constantly changing needs of our various stakeholders, whether it’s sales reps, product managers, or people external to Cook. I also heavily enjoy the people I work with; they believe in the importance of what we do each day, so it’s nice to be able to work with people who love their jobs.

What is your advice for students currently going through the job/internship interview process?

To be able to share as much valuable advice as possible, I’m going to use a bulleted list.

  • Pay close attention to your resume. Check it for spelling errors, subject-verb agreement, etc. Make sure each bullet point on your resume has a measurable outcome; this allows people looking at your resume to know exactly how you made an impact.
  • Reach out to people who currently work at the company you’re interested in, but don’t do it in the middle of the internship application season. Talk to them ahead of time so that you’ve already established a relationship with them before you start asking them for recommendations.
  • Clean up your social media accounts. This is pretty much self-explanatory; no one from Human Resources wants to know how you spent the weekend singing drunk karaoke at Kilroy’s Sports Bar. It may have been a fun time, yes, but potential managers don’t really want to see that. It’s safer to just leave it off of the Internet. Our corporate social media team always says, “If you don’t want everyone in the company to see it, you probably shouldn’t post it.”

What classes did you take at IU that most prepared you for your current job role?

I believe the class numbers have changed, but I found these classes extremely helpful:

  • Introduction to Public Relations
  • Introduction to Advertising
  • Advertising Concepts and Copywriting
  • Public Relations Writing
  • Public Relations Research and Planning
  • Public Relations Campaigns
  • Advertising and Consumer Culture
  • Public Memory in Consumer Culture

With the new Media School, I would also recommend taking some media psychology classes to help see the other side of media; you’ve been taught how to create it, but now you should learn how it’s perceived by the public.

What advice would you give current PRSSA members?

Take as much advantage of your time as an IU PRSSA member as possible. The amount of opportunities you have with this organization is truly priceless. From the panels to the agency tours to the development workshops, IU PRSSA is where I learned to become a professional before I even graduated from college.

Kaila Gilbert

UntitledEdelman Assistant Account Executive

Bio: Kaila currently works as an Assistant Account Executive within the consumer practice group at one of the top communications marketing firms in Chicago, Edelman. Kaila has worked on various consumer and digital-centric clients such as ConAgra Foods, True Value Hardware Stores, hhgregg, Butterball Turkey and Dairy Management Inc. Kaila graduated from the Indiana University School of Journalism in May 2015 with a concentration in PR and advertising and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies.

What do you like most about your job at Edelman?

What truly makes Edelman unique is the people that you work with and get to see every day. When I was interviewing at different companies in April 2015, the one question I would always ask during my interviews was, “what do you like most about the company?” and 9 times out of 10 the interviewer would say “the people” or “the culture.” Edelman employees truly have great camaraderie and a team environment that I love being a part of. I never realized how much of an impact the company culture and the people you surround yourself with make on everyday work life.

What is your advice for students going through the job/internship interview process currently?

One piece of advice that I was given when going through the process was to apply to as many positions as possible and never have “all of your eggs in one basket.” Simply, get your name out there; it’s always better to have too many options than not enough.

Additionally, do not write off an internship! I tell this to anyone who asks me for advice about getting a job post-grad. I started off as an intern at Edelman in July after I graduated and it made a world of difference when I started looking to get hired full-time. Even if you’ve had 5+ internships in your life, the way that a lot of companies hire for entry-level positions is through their intern pool, so it’s always a great way to get your foot in the door.

What classes did you take at IU that most prepared you for your current job role?

The Journalism School and the professors that I had in college did a great job of mentoring and advising for the working world (specifically in my Junior and Senior years). The Agency Seven class, put on by Professor Wood, was one of my favorite classes that I took in college and really gave our class real, agency-like experience that ultimately helps me in navigating my current role.

What advice would you give to current PRSSA members?

Use your resources! Your professors, teachers, advisors and peers are there to help you, so definitely use them and seek out the resources that they provide. Networking is also key! Using your Hoosier connection and putting yourself out there just might be a great way to get your foot in the door at a company you’re interested in.

 

Allison Hacker

M Booth Account Coordinator

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Bio: After graduating in May 2015 with a degree in journalism and a specialization in public relations and advertising, I moved to New York City to intern on the Corporate Team at M Booth. By the end of the summer I decided it was time to try something I had always had in mind – move to California, a state I had never been to before. As my internship was wrapping up in New York City, I was offered a full time position on a different team to help build a growing M Booth presence in San Francisco. Currently, I am an Account Coordinator on the Brand Team where I work on consumer technology clients, such as Twitter.

What is your favorite part about your job?

“Courageous, accountable & fun every day” is a mantra we have at M Booth, and being in a work environment that reflects that mantra would have to be my favorite part of my job. Everyday I get to work with creative, hard-working people who value learning, curiosity and boldness.

What are 3 skills a PR professional has to have to be successful?

  1. Of course writing is an important skill to have, but in order to be successful at pitching you have to be able to tailor your pitches to specific reporters and outlets. One-size-fits-all pitches aren’t as effective, so being able to hone in on your writing skills and craft targeted pitches is important. This also stems from doing diligent research on reporters and outlets to truly understand what they cover and what content their readers would be interested in reading.
  2. Attention to detail is an important skill that may seem small, but it makes you a tremendously helpful team member. Catching a tiny punctuation error or noticing misalignment of bullets in a document really does make a difference in the quality of work you produce. Your boss doesn’t have time to comb through documents, but he or she will be very glad you caught those little formatting hiccups before anything is presented to the clients.
  3. Being flexible is important because at an agency, your work can change from day to day. You never know what the client will ask for or when you’ll be put on new accounts, so being willing to jump into a new task or project is important. Now this doesn’t mean you should know how to do everything already – asking questions is key! But be eager to adapt to whatever comes your way.

What advice would you give to current PRSSA members?

Applying to jobs and internships is a stressful, time-consuming process that can leave you overwhelmed or frustrated. But it’s so important to take time to breathe and enjoy the time you have in college. Be proactive at searching for positions, reaching out to professionals for informational interviews, and using campus career development resources, but also remember that it’ll all work out. If you are willing to work hard, everything will fall into place. And it’s also fine to not know exactly what you want to do. What’s important is that you keep an open mind, stay curious, and learn as much as you can in whatever you pursue.

 

Alexea Candreva

SSPR Account ExecutiveAlexea

Bio: I graduated from IU just 6 short months ago, and here I am, successfully swimming in the real world of PR. The summer before my senior year at IU, I interned full-time at Burson-Marsteller in Chicago. It was a great way to gain experience and dip my toes into agency life. Throughout my senior year, I set up as many informational (and actual) interviews as humanly possible. By
March 2015, I had landed my role as a full-time Assistant Account Executive at SSPR in Colorado Springs, CO. After 90 days on the job, I was promoted to an Account Executive, where I have worked on a range of accounts from B2B marketing, software, a doggy daycare, a sandwich chain and a wireless power company, among others.

What do you think the future of public relations will be?

Of course PR changes as technology and social media advance. While the methods of communication have shifted, I think public relations as a whole is a relatively steady industry. The purpose of PR is still the same – secure a wide variety of media coverage for your clients and build lasting relationships with key media influencers. For the future of PR, I believe the key purpose will remain the same, but I definitely see a shift in preferred communication methods. Clients are starting to want to use video chatting more and more for weekly calls. Reporters continue to want the shortest, most summarized versions of stories in pitches. Phone calls are becoming less used, and email remains the bulk of the job. Perhaps social media will begin to take on a stronger role.

How has your experience with PRSSA impacted your career?

Being a member of PRSSA for two years has been vital to starting my PR career. I was able to speak to industry professionals, visit agencies, attend workshops, gather resume feedback, and understand the industry on a deeper level before I even entered it. It helped me get a jump-start so that I was able to secure a full-time job before the end of my final semester at IU.

What advice would you give to current PRSSA members?

Do your research on every company you apply for. And when you think you know everything about the company, look harder. For each position I applied to (which was about 50 +), I created a Word doc, outlining the company’s values/mission, primary client work, social media presence, office environment/vibe, potential questions they might ask me, and at least 10 questions that I had for them. Your questions for them should dig way past the surface level. They should show that you’ve been keeping up with the company’s website and social media pages, that you’ve read their case studies, and that you have thought about what the company is really good at and how they can improve even more. Research and preparation are KEY to landing your dream internship or job. I was lucky to have about 4 internships throughout college, and by applying for so many jobs and doing in-depth research, I was offered several jobs months before graduation and was able to choose the one that was the best fit for me.

 

Maddy Weil

Corporate Media Relations Associate at SmithBucklinMaddy Weil

Bio: I was really scared and nervous to graduate from IU – partially because I really didn’t want to stop eating lots-o’-lox from Bloomington Bagel every Saturday morning, but mostly because the J-School had become my second home. But the real world called, and I had to answer; luckily, it’s a lot nicer out here than I thought. After graduating in May ’15, I moved back to Chicago where I had an awesome internship at a PR agency, and now work full-time as a media relations associate for SmithBucklin, an association management company. I never thought I would find myself working on the corporate side of things, but I’m actually gaining really awesome experiences and diversifying my skillset by venturing outside of my comfort zone. 

What do you miss the most about PRSSA?

The opportunities to learn were endless. Don’t get me wrong – post-graduation, there are still tons of great learning and networking opportunities – but in PRSSA, you get to learn from and listen to the most accomplished professionals in the industry. From attending the “Young PRros” panel that sparked my interested in joining the Bateman Case Study Competition team, to networking at the annual Chicago media tour trip where I was introduced to the PR agency at which I would soon intern (Golin), PRSSA played a key role in getting me to where I am today.

What was the toughest interview question you were asked?

The interviewer asked how I kept up with the PR industry and I described how I followed relevant companies on LinkedIn, read articles from various PR pubs, Adweek, PR Week, etc. All of this is true. But then they followed up with “describe a really interesting PR campaign that another agency is implementing right now.” At the time, I could tell you about all of the industry competitors, where they ranked in the job market and who their clients were, but I could not think of a specific campaign and match it to an agency off the top of my head. My problem was that I prepared so thoroughly to talk about the campaigns at the agency at which I was interviewing that I didn’t think to research competitor campaigns. My best advice would be to do research on more than just the company at which you’re interviewing because the interviewers might just throw you a curve ball.

Also, just a friendly tip: if you’re looking to interview at agencies, they will most likely ask you a random and goofy question, such as “if you were a kitchen appliance, what would you be?” (yes, I was asked this question). Agencies love keeping interviewees on their toes and really just want to see how you react to strange situations, because, well, welcome to the industry.

What advice would you give to current PRSSA members?

If I haven’t already stressed it enough, start attending panels, networking events, meeting with professors, perfecting your resume and learning to write everything in AP style if you don’t already.  Take advantage of all the opportunities dangling right in front of your face that you might think you’re too busy to attend, because the fact of the matter is it’s so much more crucial to listen to Jason Mollica (president of a New York-based PR agency) give incredible media pitching tips than to take a post-class nap. I learned this the hard way at first, but once I figured out how meaningful and beneficial all of the PRSSA opportunities would be to my future, I snapped out of it and immersed myself in all that PRRSA had to offer. Please do yourself and your future a favor, and do the same.

 

Eliza Williams

Fellow at KetchumEliza Photo

Bio:  I always knew I wanted to pursue journalism in some form, so it only made sense to attend what is (in my humble opinion) the best J-school in the world – Indiana University! After graduating in May, I moved to Chicago to intern at Ketchum, where I work primarily on food accounts such as Larabar, Nature Valley, Muir Glen and Yoplait. Accepting an internship over job offers was a risk, but I knew this was the best move for me professionally. In January I will be pursuing a new job opportunity (still in Chicago!), but will always be grateful for everything Ketchum has taught me.

 

What would you say is the #1 thing you got out of your membership with PRSSA?

Lifelong friendships and networking skills (okay, so that is technically two things, but both so important!). I am still close friends and talk nearly every day with some of the people I met through PRSSA. Attending pre-professional events and PRSSA National Conference helped me rub shoulders with some important people in the PR industry, and led to professional contacts I still keep in touch with today.

 What skills do you think are the most important to have in public relations?

There are so many, and the best part is that these skills are invaluable in any industry. Excellent writing skills are absolutely necessary, so never take those pesky AP style quizzes for granted! Also, the ability to multi-task and remain (at least somewhat) calm and collected under pressure is huge. In the agency world, you will have a ton on your plate at all times, so learning how to juggle is a must. This goes without saying, but strong communication skills and the ability to “play well with others” is important because you will always, always be working in teams.

 What advice would you give to current PRSSA members?

Don’t be afraid to work your “Hoosier network” and reach out to previous IU journalism grads. You never know where those conversations will lead you – maybe a job or internship will be opening up at their company. If nothing else, it is always good to hear advice and stories from someone who has been in your shoes. On that note, don’t hesitate to reach out to me! 

 

 

Erin Johnson

Development Assistant, YWCA Northeast Indiana

Bio: After graduating from Indiana University in May of 2015 I began working for YWCA Northeast Indiana. YWCA Northeast Indiana is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. We operate the only domestic violence crisis shelter in Northeast Indiana. While at IU I majored in Communication and Culture and Journalism specializing in Public Relations and Advertising with a minor in Nonprofit Management. I’ve always been passionate about helping people, so the skill-set I cultivated at IU and my passion for helping others came to the perfect crossroads in working in communications for a nonprofit organization!

What is your favorite memory from PRSSA?

It’s hard to pick one memory! I would have to say the friendships that I made through PRSSA are a favorite memory. I feel like I have really gained some lifelong friends!

What class here at IU do you think prepared you the best for your current job?

This is a very easy question for me to answer! Without a doubt, SPEA V458, Fundraising and Resource Development for nonprofits. I talked about this course and the experiences I gained from it more than anything else throughout the interview process. This class is a service learning course where you form a team with other students and work with a nonprofit to revamp and revise their fundraising and development plan. You will learn A LOT. It was one of the most challenging classes I took at IU, but I definitely learned the most from it.

What advice would you give to current PRSSA members?

Get as much experience as you can. Whether that is through PRSSA, internships, jobs, volunteering, classes, or whatever else you are involved in. It is critical that you have experiences to not only put on a resume, but also to be able to talk about in an interview. I would also say (I know you’ve heard it before), it’s important to network. But I would also encourage you to not just network with people who you think can help you get a job. But also, network with people who you can learn from. If you’re interested in working for a nonprofit feel free to reach out to me and ask questions. Even if the organization I work for, or working in Fort Wayne, doesn’t peak your interest, I can still give some pointers about the nonprofit world in general!

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