Question: Where are you working now, and what is your title?
- Company: Jackson Spalding
- Title: Public Relations Account Executive, Toyota Motor Sales
Question: How do you think your major prepared you for the job you have now?
I would not have discovered Public Relations without attending GSU. I studied building construction as an undergraduate, worked as a project engineer and was in desperate need of a career change. I quit my job to study communications at GSU, hoping I could land an editorial position at a magazine specializing in homes and remodels –something that could combine journalism and construction. [Dr. Natalie] Tindall’s class introduced me to a career I’d never considered—professional storytelling. To be a public relations professional is to find uniqueness in your client worthy of sharing with audiences. To successfully set a strategic path for a company, you must be open to new storytelling avenues and opportunities. My studies in communication and research trends and current events have been most helpful as I look for storytelling opportunities for my clients on a daily basis.
Question: What did you like about the program?
Specifically, the program introduced me to two internships that shaped my future in this industry. I was an editorial intern at Atlanta Magazine, thanks to then Managing Editor, who was a graduate of the same master’s program at GSU. That internship led to a freelance writing position at Gilt City, a division of Gilt Groupe. Without these experiences, I would not have been introduced to the world of public relations. Who were these corporate contacts I was calling for fact checks? They didn’t work directly for the companies they represented, but they were keepers of all the information. I was fascinated by their knowledge, responsiveness and professionalism. Several months into the program, I knew I wanted to be one of the message makers.
Question: Can you think of any special accomplishments you’ve achieved after college that you might not have been able to do without your college experiences?
In January, I will celebrate two years working at a company I love. Jackson Spalding is my first agency job, but I’ve been given the tools (in school and at work) to make important decisions and advance my role on a major account team. The assurance I received at GSU from professors, advisors and fellow students gave me the confidence to realize a career at one of the most respected communications firms in the country. I wake up every day energized to steer Toyota’s reputation in the Southeast and I think that’s a pretty special accomplishment.
Question: Was there a professor, advisor, or fellow student who made an impression on you or helped you when you were here at Georgia State?
Dr. Natalie Tindall introduced me to public relations and was a member of my thesis committee. She probably thought I was crazy when we first met. I was fresh off of a job site and I knew squat about journalism or PR. Thankfully, I grew on her and she helped set a path for my future career. I’m forever grateful! Dr. Leonard Teel helped me hone my writing skills with 800 drafts of the papers I wrote for his classes. Studying building construction as an undergrad at Georgia Tech, it’s no surprise I was not required to write a single paper. That probably showed through in my writing, but Dr. Teel had a lot of faith in my abilities and gave me much-needed confidence as a writer –and, even a few research awards! Dr. Carrie Freeman led my thesis committee and inspired me to be a spokesperson for my community. Her passion for social justice movements made me question my own position on various issues. You haven’t actually learned about animal advocacy until you’ve taken her Environmental Communication class.
Question: Do you still keep in contact with any of your classmates or professors?
It’s probably a good thing that my classmates are too busy in their professional lives to keep in touch as much as we’d like. However, we have a killer Facebook message thread going! Now we just need a firm time to meet up!
Question: What did you think of your program’s facilities such as the available technology, resources, the classrooms, etc?
We always had the space we needed to meet and work on group projects. Some of us used the communications library, but I found the Law Library to be a private sanctuary!
Question: What did you like about Georgia State?
To me, Georgia State always felt like a thriving, lively workplace. It makes the transition to the working world SO much easier than other institutions.
Question: What advice do you have for current or incoming students?
Do not force yourself along a path, just because you’ve put so much work into selecting that major. Have the fortitude and open-mindedness to change your mind when the right opportunity comes your way. Feel passionate about your work in school. If you’re passionless, it’s time to try something else. School affords a safe place to experiment. When you graduate, you will not always love your job, but if you love your work, life will fulfill you.