PRSSA Industry Career Panel

Panelists at the panel discussion introducing themselves

On March 20, William Peace University Public Relations Student Society of America, hosted an Industry Career Panel, which included career discussions and audience Q&As by the students in attendance. The evening started out with a networking reception while eating delicious finger foods Sodexo provided.
“There was an event just like this off campus and no one unfortunately came,” said WPU senior and PRSSA President, Mary Kubeny. “It seems that Peace students really focus on on-campus activities, but I did go to the event and it was an amazing resource.”
“The PRSSA here on campus just got our charter on March 1 of this year, so so far the only person who has really been able to do anything has been myself. I’ve been president since I decided to found it. Of course Dr. Kate Madelana has been amazing helping me along and she’s been really supportive every step of the way.”
The panelists for the event included Robin Gaitens who is a communications executive in the pharmaceutical/healthcare industry who is also a 1988 Peace graduate, Melissa Mowery who is a consultant with APCO Worldwide and previously worked at Ketchum in Washington, DC, and McGavock Edwards who is a strategic communications director at Eckel & Vaughn as well as a NC PRSA board member.
Kubeny gave the welcome at the event in which she talked about the purpose of it and how it was going to work. The panel discussion began with Dr. Heidi Gailor, the moderator for the panel discussion, giving a brief introduction about each panelist.
Students from different majors, but mostly communication majors, joined the event and participated in asking questions that were very beneficial to them personally and to college students in general.
WPU communications major and senior, Christian Branch, was one of the students who attended the event. He asked the question of how college students get given the chance at a job when companies require a certain number of years of experience, which college students may lack. The panelists each explained how college students could go about this, but the general answer was networking, knowing people, and standing out to the employer.
The panelists also went on to give advice to students who are trying to get more experience and explained that sometimes businesses put out that they are hiring for certain positions just because that’s what they have to do legally, but they already know someone who they are planning on hiring. With that being said, it is crucial to volunteer and work for companies just to network, make connections, and have more learning opportunities.
Another question that was asked by Branch was what companies look for within resumes or e-portfolios to know what to focus on while trying to get a job. The panelists explained that having an e-portfolio is a good way to express the individuals’ personality while remaining professional and giving examples of strengths.
On the other hand, resumes are also used, but sometimes they don’t even get seen by human eyes and mostly go through machines. Because of resumes not being sent directly into employers’ own hands, resumes need to be updated to fit exactly what that certain company is looking for within the description of that position.
The panelists also gave advice about what companies look for in their ideal candidate which included, being curious, a problem solver, diverse, flexible, and passionate. There’s always going to be something about a job that isn’t all that pretty, so being dedicated and showing initiative as well as passionate about the work is really important.
Being able to offer specific examples of how working for a certain company would be beneficial to talk about during the interview process or when applying for a certain position. In doing so, it allows the company to know that research has been done before coming to the interview, which makes them think the interviewee is serious about working for that company.
The PRSSA Industry Career Panel event was a great way for students to make connections and find out exactly what the next steps in finding an internship or job entails. Throughout college, students are focussed on classes and working outside of their major, but sometimes don’t have time to go ahead and plan for their future after college.
Once students get into their senior year, they try to focus more on where to go next. Students begin putting portfolios together, updating resumes, reaching out to companies that are hiring, while still trying to maintain good grades and catch up on classwork. Through classes such as PDS classes, students are required to go to career fairs, but I think students should be required to go to events such as this.
Instead of walking around and talking with employers to get experience putting yourself out there, this event allowed students the opportunity to ask specific questions and get them answered from professionals within a related career. This event also allowed for the panelists to tell students exactly what they should be doing to try to get hired and gave very useful advice that are sometimes not given elsewhere.
Event though classes during students’ senior year are more about putting together e-portfolios and reaching out to companies, it was nice to hear what professionals and people in charge of hiring look for in future employees specifically, so we can gain more knowledge of what to be aware of when looking for our first career. Important advice the panelists gave was making a job search plan.
The job search plan should include:  

  • What makes you unique
  • Know what company you want to work for
  • Why you want that certain job
  • Go to that company with research
  • Be curious

As I am in my last year as a Peace student, I hope that Peace continues to have events such as this panel discussion to benefit students who feel frustrated about not getting an internship or job as quick as they thought.
This event provided more insight into what companies want in order to get an opportunity to be called for an interview. As some students feel lost and rushed of where to go next as their college journey ends, this event gave hope and direction into where to start.
“In the future I would definitely love to see this sponsored by Career Services and have it as a school wide event,” said Kubeny.
“I definitely think that students got a lot from it from being able to talk in such a personal discussion way and ask those questions they never had before, especially so close to graduation I know it was on many people’s minds, a lot of the big scary questions that they were able to ask. It was a great opportunity that I would love to see more people have.”  
Out of all the events students have been required to go to to learn more about jobs, this event that wasn’t even required was the one students got the most out of and will always remember the advice the panelists gave to the students in attendance.