Vice President of Special Projects
What are your job responsibilities/duties?
I primarily help manage complex challenges for clients who are interacting both proactively and reactively with the media in a wide range of circumstances. My role is focused on strategic planning, media engagement, new business development and operations.
What does a typical day look like?
Reading the news during my commute and then participating in client calls/meetings, pitching and following up with reporters, drafting press materials and coming up with new ideas for clients.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
Its dynamic nature - no two days are the same. I also love that paying close attention to the news is part of the job.
What is the most difficult aspect of the job?
Providing quantitative measurements in a qualitative field.
What on-campus activities were you involved with? Where did you gain relevant experience?
College of Media student leadership programs, PRSSA, a sorority and some work with the Daily Illini/WILL/WPGU. My most relevant experience was a writing position through the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, where I learned how to distill complex information effectively.
How did your experience at ILLINOIS and in the College of Media prepare you for your professional life? For this specific position?
Learning to think like a journalist was hugely helpful. Career Services also connected me to some great foot-in-the-door opportunities.
What advice do you have for students interested in this field?
Get as much hands-on experience as possible through internships. Also, take the crisis communications class at UIUC.
Cold email people who inspire you in the field - offer to bring them a coffee and make it easy for them to say yes (most won't respond, but the ones who do will provide valuable insights). Read everything and start learning about specific reporter beats.
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?
Manage expectations about your schedule with family, friends and significant others, especially if you end up at a PR firm focused on crisis communications.
You can apply your journalism degree in a myriad of ways and there are plenty of opportunities outside of traditional journalism jobs. It's okay to not have a job right when you graduate. Better to find the right fit than to take a job you're not actually interested in. For women: don't be overly apologetic.