North Central students gain access, networking opportunities in PR field

Dec 16, 2015

“It’s all about finding a career that fits you,” said Skylar Krople ’17 after attending the Publicity Club of Chicago PR Career Day with her North Central College classmates. “I learned there are lots of opportunities to create whatever you want because the public relations industry is constantly changing.”

Krople, a double major in organizational communication and marketing, is talking about a fall term Verandah course that took students behind the scenes at Chicago’s leading public relations firms. Students met and networked with executives and explored career options in both large and small-sized firms.

Taught by Emily Cramer, North Central College assistant professor of communication, and Danielle Bank, Career Development counselor, the one-credit Verandah course attracted students from a variety of majors as well as members of the newly formed Public Relations Students Society of America (PRSSA) Affiliate Board.

“A goal for the course was for students to develop a toolbox of resources to use as they prepare for a professional career,” said Cramer. “Danielle provided guidance in helping them create résumés, business cards and elevator pitches. They experienced traveling downtown and accessing the city, presenting themselves professionally, researching the agency they wanted to visit, and networking with other professionals.”

Part of networking preparation included a speed-networking event, coordinated by Career Development and held on campus before the PR Career Day. Students practiced “pitching” themselves to employers and gained their critical feedback. Employers consisted of a dozen successful professionals and North Central alumni, including a COO, media strategist, company president, senior business development manager, HR analyst and more.

The career day included a keynote address and panel discussion by PR professionals. But the highlight for the 15 North Central students were site visits to PR and marketing agencies. Students researched and chose the companies they wanted to visit, from big firms like Edelman and Burson-Marsteller to smaller boutiques like Resolute Consulting and PCI.

Madison Maas ’17, a business marketing major, visited PCI. “We heard account execs talk about their culture, clients they work for and benefits like beer Friday and paid volunteer days off. They gave us a tour and told us how to get our foot in the door with internships.” Maas personally met with three people and followed up with each one after the event.

Grace Philipie ’19 received advice from many people she met at Burson-Marsteller. Most started at smaller agencies, she said, which offer a variety of experiences and opportunities to wear different hats. “Just as North Central College is small and offers lots of opportunities to grow, smaller agency environments give good opportunities to grow and to take personal initiative to show what you can do.”

Although PRSSA is a new campus organization, its mission is to create opportunities and exposure to the PR field and gain chapter status as part of a national network of public relations students, educators and professionals. All students and majors are welcome to join. Chapter copresidents are Madison Nehrkorn ’16 and Kevin Driscoll ’16; Cramer is the faculty advisor.

Verandah courses are offered throughout the year and are designed by faculty or staff to give students real-world and education experiences outside the classroom. Five Verandah courses were offered during fall term and ranged from history to art to film. Some 10 Verandahs took place during D-Term. Students explored the cosmos, East Asian cultures, museums, sociopolitical realities of women’s incarceration and more.  

Photo credit: Stella Marie Go Fanega '17
Photo, attending the PR Career Day, from left: Alexandria Nichols, Thea Klinker, Mykala Daly, Miaya Washington, Madison Maas, Jenna Grabowski, Skyla Krople, Grace Philipie, Uyen Lam, Lizzie Baumgartner, Madison Nehrkorn, Emily Cramer (not pictured, Stella Marie Go Fanega)