1.Name (First and Last)
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Public Relations Coordinator
5.Graduation Year (list as "Month Year")
7.Minor and/or Certificates
Cooking and baking (with the help of Pinterest), watching too many television shows, running the lakefront path in Chicago, trying new restaurants
Career Information & Advice
10.What are your job responsibilities/duties?
Any time the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago is in the news, I probably played some sort of role in making that happen. Our PR team tells the myriad stories that lie within our world-class Museum's walls. I assist in developing the press materials to help tell these stories, and then strategize on pitching those stories to local and national media. I identify and train appropriate spokespeople per media opportunity, and I also facilitate in maintaining our relationship with media contacts by being on-hand for filming and interview opportunities.
11.What does a typical day look like?
That's the interesting part about working at MSI; no day is "typical" as it is different every day. Most days, though, we monitor our coverage and mentions in local and national media. Sometimes, we are in the midst of developing a new exhibit, so we work with getting the content that we'll need to communicate to the press before the exhibit opens. Other times, we are figuring out the best media contact to pitch for a different event or program going on at MSI. There's 14 acres full of science and fun going on every day, so needless to say, it gets pretty busy.
12.What do you most enjoy about your job?
As I said, it gets pretty busy, but I love that. The days - and weeks leading up to, really - we open new exhibits are slightly stressful, but there is such a big pay-off at the end of the day when you see the great press coverage the Museum received on something that so many people put their blood, sweat and tears into. It's also crazy to walk into a building that's been around since the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. To be able to call it my place of employment is surreal, to say the least. Having the opportunity to experience awesome exhibits every day isn't so bad, either!
13.What is the most difficult aspect of the job?
The most difficult part of my job is the fact that there are so many things going on every day. I had to quickly figure out a way to prioritize my duties as we switch gears rapidly and frequently. We could be hosting a press conference with the mayor one day, but the next week we're hosting a week-long robotics event. This job has really taught me to juggle a lot of tasks at once, especially since this is my first job in the PR industry. Coming from print journalism, I had very limited broadcast knowledge, so I had to not only learn the ropes of public relations, but also that side of the journalism world at the same time.
14.What on-campus activities were you involved with? Where did you gain relevant experience?
I was heavily involved with the College of Media Student Ambassadors program. My favorite part was representing the College of Media to potential new students. Selling the College of Media to high school seniors was easy for me, as I had many great experiences to talk about to these students. I also was a member of the sorority Alpha Gamma Delta, where I was the vice president of recruitment. I find that those experiences really gave me the skill of thinking quickly on my feet to put forth the best possible image of the organization I was representing, which is pretty much what I do on a daily basis at my job.
15.How did your experience at ILLINOIS and in the College of Media prepare you for your professional life? For this specific position?
Illinois, in general, carries a great reputation, which is always a plus when meeting new contacts in my professional life. Also, my professors in the College of Media were always real with us - giving us realistic expectations of the job market and teaching us the qualities and skills needed to succeed in the media world. I think I developed a pretty thick skin from my journalism classes, as their smaller size allowed professors to really critique your work. That thick skin helped me with plenty of rejection until I landed this great position.
16.What advice do you have for students interested in this field?
My advice to pursue a career in PR is to not limit yourself, learn how to follow-up consistently without being too annoying, ask a ton of questions, and listen. When I was looking for a different job during my time as a reporter, the role at MSI seemed way out of my league. I followed up with my director so many times, I was scared she'd never want to hire me. Once I got the job, I found out that you might as well ask questions when you're unsure, because there's a lot to learn when communicating to the press and public on behalf of a major institution like the Museum.
17.What is one thing that you know now that you wish you had known when you started in the field? When you graduated from the College?
I wish I had developed a better following of major media players. You think that would be an obvious thing for most journalism majors - to know all of the successful writers and reporters in your area - but I was very focused on the fashion world for awhile during my college years. I wish I had been more well-rounded in that regard, as it really helps to know what kinds of pitches certain reporters will respond to or exactly what kinds of topics they like to cover.