Grad Profile: Erica Holgate (2010/11)

Today's Grad Profile features Erica Holgate (Loyalist PR 10/11) who is now employed as the Community Relations & Fundraising Coordinator at Hospice Quinte. She is also the Community Relations Coordinator for Boston Pizza (Belleville) and does freelance PR work on the side.

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Erica completed her bachelor's degree in music (minor in drama) from Queen's University.

Loyalist PR: Tell us what you're up to these days, Erica.

Erica Holgate: I hold a couple different positions right now. The majority of my week is spent at Hospice Quinte as the Community Relations and Fundraising Coordinator, and I am also the Community Relations Coordinator for Boston Pizza Belleville. In my spare time I am also heading up my own start-up PR business where I am currently a blogger for The Great Waterway and a social media consultant for a few local organizations.

By holding a few different positions, I believe I am continuing to gain a vast amount of PR experience in a variety of sectors.

Loyalist PR: What are some of your duties in these positions?

EH: A large portion of my time is dedicated to special events. Hospice Quinte has several events a year, with most of the focus being on "A Night oat the Prom" gala right now. Whether I am working at Hospice Quinte or Boston Pizza, creating general awareness is an important aspect of the position. I am continually reaching out to the media regarding our latest news, and to gain participation in our many fundraisers.

I also have a serious interest in social media, so I am consistently blogging and tweeting about the work I am up to as well. Social media is an important duty in today's age in every position, especially if you are in the process of setting up your own personal business.

Loyalist PR: What made you decide to take the PR program at Loyalist College?

EH: When I was trying to decide what my career path should be, my mother actually introduced me to the idea of taking public relations at Loyalist. Both my parents attended Loyalist as young adults, and when I was looking at taking public relations it just seemed like the right fit.

Loyalist PR: How did the PR program help prepare you for your current position?

EH: My year at Loyalist was all about networking, learning from other people in the business and their path in life. I believe that Loyalist PR gave us the opportunities to reach out to people in the community and the public relations field. From our several guest speakers, I was able to decide what sector of public relations interested me the most, and that is what has prepared me the most for where I am today.

It was also through the planning and execution of our own event that I truly learned what it took to run a successful fundraiser. In fact, it was through my Fill That Bus fundraiser last year that I gained the connections that have truly benefited me where I am today.

The real-life application of college really assisted me in understanding what the public relations field was going to be like, and the importance of building community partnerships and relationships.

Loyalist PR: What are some of the highlights from your year in Loyalist PR?

EH: Meeting a few of my closest friends. I've maintained a couple of really close friendships from my year at Loyalist, and I'm excited that one day I may be able to work with them again once I get my business in full swing!

I was also thrilled that out of Loyalist PR came the annual Fill That Bus event for the Gleaner's Food Bank. What started as a school project turned into a fundraiser in honour of Jim Parkhurst who was a dear friend of mine [the event takes place again this June 8th].

Loyalist PR: Any advice for current or future Post-Grad PR students?

EH: For future students: go into the public relations program for the right reasons. Understand that it is not an easy program and requires a lot of effort! I spent the summer before Loyalist PR reading up on public relations, experimenting with all popular social media tools and knew PR was going to be exactly what I wanted to do. You definitely have to have a passion for it.

For current students: Have fun at your internship! It will be the actual start of your PR career, and you'll learn an absolute TON! Also, never be afraid to shake a hand. Everyone has their strengths and you'll never know when that relationship will help you in the future.

Loyalist PR: Thanks, Erica and good luck in your future projects!