Boston University’s PRLab hosted its annual agency panel that allows students to engage with alums through Q&As and networking afterward. The event was primarily made up of PRLab Students and was deemed a success by Faculty Advisor, Amy Shanler, who said “the most exciting part about the panel is seeing the students network afterwards with alum and share what they learned in class.”
Shanler and another Faculty Advisor, Justin Joseph, conducted the panel questions and asked alums to share some “client service skills they have put into place and how it has helped them in their careers.” Luis Castro, an Account Executive at PAN Communications, mentioned ‘expectation management’ and explained it as the steps a firm needs to take in order to meet a client’s request. He went on further saying that he received “…tons of [this] experience from [his] accounts.”
Olivia Armstrong, a Marketing Manager at Hencove, answered next and said that listening is a skill that has helped her in her success. “Having the skill to listen and really figure out what the problem is and being able to deliver recommendations based on that is a huge skill,” said Armstrong.
Joseph moved to his next question and asked the panel to explain their daily work routines and what they spend most of their time on. Catie Valzania, an Account Coordinator at 360PR+, said that she “…spends a lot of time consuming media.” She went on further saying, “I do a lot of tracking and monitoring– Google Monitor is like my best friend. The only way that you’re going to get better in a traditional media position is reading and consuming media. My job is predominantly monitoring, checking, consuming and pitching media.”
Julia Dakhlia, an Account Coordinator at Aria Marketing, answered next and said that she “…reads articles to get up to date with what’s happening in the industry.” Dakhlia continued by saying, “It’s important to learn how people talk about these technologies in the media – what are the new buzzwords and how can I understand them to make my daily job a bit easier.”
Students were then given the space to ask the panel their own questions, with one student asking, “What advice would you give to your former college-self?” Valzania said the key is to “Just relax and enjoy the process.” She then added, “Being in COM and PRLab in particular gives you a leg up… and to trust yourself because you have all the tools you need to move forward in your job.”
Amanda Alverez, an Account Executive at Weber Shandwick, followed afterwards, saying, “It’s super normal to have an internship out of college. Think of an internship as an audition for a permanent position. Agencies want to see how you work and fit in with the team, and more often than not, if their finances are right, they will hire you because they always need more bodies and hands to help. Don’t be crushed if you don’t get a Junior Associate position because that’s very unlikely.”
The panel ended shortly after, allowing students more time to interact and network with the alums. Shanler believes that panels “…open up new experiences for students who may have set expectations” on their career paths. She continued, saying that they offer PRLab students “…different environments and contexts that they might not have thought of.”
The PRLab team has about 130 members and has been gradually growing for the past 41 years. Shanler said, “We are always looking for ways to expand the agency but are also aware of our limitations,” said Shanler. “I think there is a ceiling but I don’t think we’ve hit it yet.”
Moiketsi Thipe, Staff Writer
Moiketsi Thipe is a senior undergraduate student from Johannesburg, South Africa who is currently pursuing her studies in mass communications. She is curious about up-and-coming trends and appreciates the art of storytelling.