I’m pleased to introduce you to PR Job Seeker of the Week, Lisa DeCanio, who is hoping to secure an entry level PR position in Chicago or Boston. She has a unique (and well-written) story to tell so definitely read this all the way through!
About five months ago, the most I knew about PR was that it stood for Public Relations. From there, my best guess was that PR professionals were experts at relating to the public – duh. Oh, and that all of them (us) were clones of Samantha Jones from “Sex and the City.”
While I’d still like to think that I can be as fabulous as Samantha some day, I’ve now been educated on the subject of PR. All because a great agency in Detroit, Michigan took a chance on me (pardon the bad ABBA lyrics).
But first, a bit of history.
At the University of Michigan, I was a dual major in Anthropology and American Culture with a minor in Environmental Studies. Sure, those may seem like radically different subjects. Combined, though, these curricula taught me how to ask and answer questions about relationships. How do people in other cultures relate to each other? How do we relate to people in other cultures? How do we relate to people within our own culture? And finally, how do people all over relate to the planet that we live on?
The way I answered these questions? Essays, of course. Like most other liberal arts students, I spent countless hours in the library typing away. Sounds miserable, but I loved every minute of it.
I loved it so much, in fact, that I looked for opportunities to write outside of the library’s walls. I started with my sorority, writing for our national magazine, and actually getting our chapter’s stories featured, which is something that rarely happened in the past. Next, I took my writing skills to Greek Life at large, eventually becoming editor-in-chief of the University of Michigan’s Greek Life newspaper and bringing the paper back to its former glory when it was nearly dead. All along, I used my academic background to answer the question: how can I relate to the people I am writing about and for?
Senior year rolled around, and it was time to figure out what I was going to do in the “real world.” Overwhelmed, I was at least confident that I liked figuring out how to relate to people, and I liked writing. So I talked to school advisers, professors, alums, friends, family, my hairdresser, my dogs, my friends’ dogs, and got a lot of the same responses: Lisa, you should explore PR (OK, the dogs didn’t actually speak. But if they could, that’s what they would have said).
All of which brought me to Mullen shortly after graduation. I told them all of the above, and they hired me as their PR intern for the summer of 2010, regardless of the fact that I didn’t know how to create a media list or set up my Google Alerts.
The lovely people at Mullen recognized that I was a quick learner, and within a few weeks, I was deep into the world of automotive, technology and environmental PR. Our client, General Motors, was split into several accounts, each radically different from the next, and I became an expert in determining the best strategies to use for each client.
Sure, at times it was a bit stressful (when isn’t PR stressful?), but I truly enjoyed the constant thrill of learning something new, from key influencers to follow on Twitter to the clients’ formatting preferences. You know when you take your dog to a new park, and he runs around like crazy, ecstatic at all of the new sounds, sights, and smells? Well, that’s how I felt every day at work. Minus the weird bottom-sniffing thing dogs do.
Moreover, my internship experience this summer allowed me to put my four years of undergrad to good use, as I continued to determine the best ways to not only relate to people, but to forge relationships that last.
What I’m looking for now? That same, dog-in-the-park feeling of the new, the uncharted. I love PR because there’s always an opportunity to grow. I’m searching for an entry-level PR position in Chicago (where I’m from) or Boston (where I’m dying to go). Please feel free to connect with me via email, Twitter, or LinkedIn, and check out my opinions of Gen Y on The Next Great Generation blog. Even if you don’t know of a job for me, I like creating relationships (remember?), so just drop a line and say hello!