Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Grad Profile: Devon Taylor (2011/12)

Today's Loyalist PR grad profile features Devon Taylor (2011/12) who is now employed as a paid Communications Intern with the SickKids Foundation in Toronto.

Before enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Devon completed a double-major Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Political Science at the University of Ottawa.

Loyalist PR: What made you decide to enroll in the Post-Grad PR Program at Loyalist?

Devon Taylor: After my undergrad, I worked for a pub/bar in Ottawa and then moved to Mississauga to work for a major bank call centre. I wasn't enjoying my job with the bank, and, based on what I had heard about the benefits of taking a post-grad certificate (rather than a Masters), I looked at what Loyalist had to offer.

I knew I wanted to expand on my education in communications, and PR seemed to be a great fit.

Loyalist PR: What are some of your duties in your new role?

Devon: In this role, I have taken on a number of duties, from writing speeches, to helping organize learning seminars for our communications team. My duties also include: writing speaking notes, writing posts for the Foundation Intranet, media monitoring, updating metrics for our e-newsletter, interviewing and writing profiles for our patient ambassadors, distributing posters and brochures around the hospital, and assisting with setting up internal communication programs (i.e. Lunch & Learn, Think Tank Thursdays, etc.).

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

Devon: Loyalist PR expanded my knowledge of communications and PR, and gave me hands-on experience. By working on projects from start to finish (planning, writing, group meetings, editing, executing), I was able to develop new skills and learn how I work on projects (individually and with a team). Through the different courses and projects, I was also able to learn what specific aspects of PR I enjoy doing the most. Loyalist PR helped me become a better professional.

Loyalist PR: Can you share with us any highlights from your year in Loyalist PR?

Devon: Our group was wonderful. Class was always fun, no matter what the subject.

While I enjoyed the class trip (Steam Whistle and Strombo), my favourite parts of the year were the hands-on projects. The crisis communications day was fun and informative -- a great alternative to regular classroom discussion.

The biggest highlight for me, though, was the Work Your Wardrobe Fashion Show that I worked on with another classmate. It was great to see the results of our hard work, together with the support of our classmates, come together in a successful event.

Loyalist PR: Any words of advice for current or future PR students here at Loyalist?

Devon: Network. Take advantage of all learning opportunities. And smile!

Networking is huge, and you will hear that a lot going forward. Set up informational meetings with people working in the industry or for the company you're interested in.

Learning doesn't just happen in the classroom. Volunteering, taking advantage of seminars/webinars, and getting active in the industry (even on different social media platforms), will give you a chance to learn something new and valuable.

Smile. Smiling and being friendly, along with a positive attitude, goes  along way in any situation.

And one more thing... try not to procrastinate! Especially on setting up your internship.

Loyalist PR: Thanks for your thoughts and insights, Devon. And good luck in your future endeavours!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Grad Profile: Ashley Matheson (2009/10)

Today's Loyalist PR grad profile features Ashley Matheson (2009/10) who is now employed as Fund Development Coordinator for the Alzheimer Society of Belleville-Hastings-Quinte.

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations program at Loyalist College, Ashley completed a diploma in Advertising at Loyalist.

Loyalist PR: What made you decide to enroll in Loyalist PR?

Ashley Matheson: Ever since I can remember, I was always interested in pursuing a career in public relations, and felt that it was the best fit for my personality and attributes. My ambition was to find employment in the Belleville area, so I felt that by doing my studies at Loyalist College's Belleville campus, I would make crucial connections for future employment.

Loyalist PR: Can you tell us about some of your duties as Fund Development Coordinator?

Ashley: In a nutshell, my duties include being responsible for all the society's fundraising activities, donor cultivation and solicitation (individually, community-wise and corporately). Generally speaking, I'm responsible for community engagement, event management and donor development.

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

Ashley: Loyalist PR gave me the solid, well-rounded background I needed to be prepared for my position as a Fund Development Coordinator. Through assignments within the community, to my four-week work placement, I developed an awareness of the needs along with the tools necessary to be successful.

I can confidently say that through all the courses I studied in the Post-Graduate Public Relations program, I have certainly used all the skills I obtained -- both in my previous positions and in my current role with the Alzheimer Society of Belleville-Hastings-Quinte today.

Loyalist PR: Any highlights of your year in Loyalist PR that you'd like to share with us?

Ashley: There were many highlights -- some of them included getting the opportunity to meet many PR professionals that work in multiple sectors (non-profit, government, private, etc.); the Toronto trip where we got to visit the Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto and had the opportunity to speak with their PR director; and also our trip to the taping of the George Stombolopolous show, among many other highlights!

But I would have to say one of the biggest highlights from my year was receiving the Kay Staib Memorial Scholarship award (from the International Association of Business Communicators), as well as the Community Service Award and Spirit Award during our PRISM awards at the end of the year.

Loyalist PR: Finally, do you have any words of advice for current or future students of Loyalist PR?

Ashley: I know it sounds cliche, but follow your dreams, and you can achieve what you strive for.

A motto I have made my life's mantra is "Do not follow where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail" (Muriel Strode). And whatever you do, don't get discouraged.

I know it can be so hard in today's unsettled economy, and I also felt discouraged when I didn't get a full-time job immediately. But remember, everything truly does happen for a reason. If I didn't work at the term, casual and part-time positions that I did, I wouldn't have made the connections I did either, and I wouldn't have gained the experience I have which made me the most qualified candidate for my current position.

Nobody knows what the future holds -- but as you grow and learn from your experiences, you will further develop your path. You just never know where you will find yourself one day!

Loyalist PR: Thanks so much, Ashley -- and we wish you the best of luck on your career path!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mature student Ken MacPherson returns to Loyalist College... and tells us why

It has been nearly 25 years since Ken MacPherson last stepped inside a college classroom as a student.

After a corporate downsizing recently cost him his journalism job, he decided to return to Loyalist College's Post-Graduate Public Relations program to broaden his skill set and make himself more employable in an ever-changing workforce.

Following his first graduation from Loyalist in the late 1980s, Ken spent a number of years managing community television operations in Prince Rupert, BC and Medicine Hat, AB before moving into print journalism with a newspaper in the Annapolis Valley, NS.

There, he performed a number of job functions, from writing and photography to editing and page design. In the intervening years, Ken watched page design and photography develop from cut-and-paste and the dark room to the entire process being manipulated through a computer.

When he began his career, there was no Facebook or Twitter. Social media was an unformed term. Email was the rage, and was not considered the essential tool to which it eventually evolved. Most thought it quaint and interesting, but were unsure if it would ever replace telephones and fax machines.

Most were wrong.

Ken was one of those individuals who adapted to new technology. But, like others at the time, his change was mostly reactionary. He changed when the technology forced him to change, in order to keep up. Adapting was difficult, frustrating, fun and enlightening.

With his return to Loyalist College, Ken has decided to take change into his own hands. He has decided to position himself ahead of the curve, and perhaps the next technology revolution, by taking advantage of what Loyalist College has to offer (for the second time).

Public relations, more so than most other career paths, will rely almost exclusively on new media and new ways that people have not yet conceived, to advance their ideas.

Ken doesn't want to be just a follower in this new media world; he wants to lead it.

It all begins here.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Class of 2013 takes off... and aims high!

The new crew of Loyalist PR students got off to a great start this week... culminating in a vigorous game of beach volleyball (with apologies to Devin, who seemed to take all the hits!).

Kudos to all the participants and members of the cheering squad. Let's keep up the energy and enthusiasm as the months progress -- it's going to be a great year!

Photo by: Linda Horn  (2012)

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Grad Profile: Lise Rouleau (PR 2011/12)

Today's graduate profile features Lise Rouleau (Loyalist PR 2011/12) who is now employed as the Special Events & Operations Manager at Taste the County in Prince Edward County.
Prior to enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Lise completed her diploma in Business Administration and Human Resources at Loyalist College.
Loyalist PR: What made you decide to enroll in Loyalist PR?

Lise Rouleau: Loyalist College was a perfect fit for me as a mature student, because it is small and has a supportive environment. I felt that even though the business program was excellent, I needed an edge that would put me above the competition, and give me a better chance of getting a job that not only supported me, but that I could be passionate about. It did all that and more!

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

Lise: Loyalist gave me 100% what I needed. It built my confidence and taught me how to work in a group, deal with challenges, understand different personalities and think critically. I learned leadership qualities and it gave me a strong foundation in a multitude of areas that differentiated me from the competition. It gave me many opportunities to work with community partners and network, which is vital to finding a job.
Loyalist PR: Can you discuss some of your current duties on the job?

Lise: When I first came to Taste the County [as an intern five months ago], my job was to run a new event from the ground up. That included getting participants, communicating with partners, meeting with a committee and organizing the structure the event would take. I had to find and set up speakers, venues, volunteers, social media, sponsors and advertising for the event as well.

As the summer progressed (I was hired on after internship), I had to deal with printers, graphic designers, as well as partners of Taste the County. I am also the one who edits and controls the organization's many web sites, blogs and social media properties.

Now that I am the Operations Manager as well, I will be organizing the office, including answering questions from partners as well as tourists. I also design the critical paths for our events and publications. It has been a fantastic learning experience, and I could not have done it without learning as much as I did from Loyalist PR!

Loyalist PR: What was the highlight of your experience in Loyalist PR?

Lise: I loved every minute. Having one classroom and working with the same, small group all year was fantastic. The highlight of my experience was applying what we were learning in a community project that had real results.

Loyalist PR: Any words of advice for current or future students of the program?

Lise: Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the experience of Loyalist PR. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn and better yourself. Do not sit back and watch the year go by. Get involved and participate in it all to the best of your ability. And NETWORK which you will hear repeatedly throughout the year. I would do it all over again... that is how amazing the experience was!

Loyalist PR: Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us today, Lise -- we wish you great success in all that you do in the future.