On Saturday, February 24, Boston University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America led a regional conference with one focus: How does one best land a job after completing his or her studies?
It’s a question on the mind of every university student. In a public relations world, where the field is becoming more and more competitive, how does one stand apart from the crowd?
PR Advanced, the title of this year’s BU PRSSA conference, summoned speakers to campus who could answer that pressing question.
Speakers from all areas of the field – including agencies, corporate communications, and startups – spoke to the crowd gathered at BU’s Photonics Center. Throughout the day, attendees had the chance to hear from 14 professionals in the field who provided tips from both their work and interview experiences.
One of the most popular speakers was Jen Friedman, General Electric’s current Senior Director on Corporate Reputation–and former Deputy White House Press Secretary under President Barack Obama. In her keynote speech, Friedman emphasized the value of resiliency in the job hunt and the working world.
“I think you just have to keep marching on,” Friedman said.
“As long as you’ve left no stone unturned at the end of the day, it is what it is. Just work your absolute hardest.”
Hard work was a theme throughout the day from all speakers, as was the importance of learning. The opportunity to learn, speakers stressed, can be gleaned from experiences and mistakes alike.
Brandi Boatner, another keynote speaker, is head of social and influencer communications for the Global Markets team in IBM’s corporate communications department. Yet despite her accreditations as a long-term, groundbreaking employee of IBM, Boatner not focus on her successes in her speech. Rather, she turned her attention to her frustration and failure.
Boatner sought to explain that, in every career, there are times when it is hard, and things are not going to be as easy in “the real world,” as students always hope.
“The struggle is so real,” Boatner said, adding that it sometimes “smacks you in the face.”
Her words may not have been exactly what graduating students want to hear, but it was certainly eye-opening. It also assured attendees that, despite hardship, it is always possible to turn failure and disappointment into a new opportunity.
The final keynote speaker of the day, DJ Capobianco, leads research for Twitter’s automotive, media/entertainment, and political advertising clients.
Capobianco discussed the tools of the trade he uses at Twitter as he leads research for numerous clients there. A COM and COMmunicator alumni, Capobianco provided sage advice to the key in public relations:
“Help your audience find whatever it is they want, not what you want,” he said.
Lexi Smith, Staff Writer
Lexi Smith is a junior in a dual degree program, studying Public Relations and Middle East & North Africa Studies. She is a member of both the Air Force ROTC detachment and the club women’s rugby team here at BU.