Prior to enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Carlie completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at Queen’s University in English Literature and French Studies, and a Bachelor of Education (Queen’s).
Loyalist PR: What made you decide to enroll in Loyalist PR?
Carlie McCann: I decided to enroll in the Loyalist PR program because, after a bit of job hunting, I realized that my undergraduate education wasn’t enough to get a job in the field that I wanted. I hoped to get a job related to communications and I knew that I needed to have more hands-on experience in the hard skills required on the job.
Reading over the descriptions for the Loyalist PR courses, I saw that I would have the opportunity to work on real projects and complete an internship in addition to learning the skills in a classroom setting.
I was also really excited about doing a one-year program. I felt that a busy, action-packed year would compliment the education and employment experience that I already had.
Loyalist PR: How did Loyalist PR help prepare you for your current position?
Carlie: I can't think of any ways that Loyalist PR didn't prepare me for my current job. Almost everything I'm doing at work was covered in class in some way or another.
I learned about a lot of hard skills that I'm using on a daily basis, like event planning, professional writing, and long-term project planning. We had a guest speaker who talked about media monitoring, one of my big duties at work right now.
The opportunities to work with people outside of the classroom for the many client projects helped me to learn about interacting with professionals in other fields, like journalists. During my interview for this position, I had an answer and an example for every question that they asked, based on my experiences in the program.
I also got to work more on honing my soft skills in a lot of areas. I felt that I had to be a lot more organized at school this year than I was in undergrad, because many of the projects required so much planning and effort. I also feel that I developed better leadership and teamwork skills in Loyalist PR, both skills that I use in the workplace everyday.
The hands-on nature of the program really lets students see what areas they are good at, and helps everyone to shine in some way or another!
Finally, the required internship was a great opportunity to get more hands-on experience. I loved that we were all encouraged to find an internship in an area that really interested us, doing work that would benefit us in the long-term. The support that we all received in the months leading up to internships (advice on where to go, résumé assistance, lots of early planning) was priceless!
Loyalist PR: What are some of your current duties as Communications Coordinator at Ottawa Tourism?
Carlie: At this job, I work with journalists who are coming to Ottawa to write about tourism in the area. After we have found out about goals for the trip and the stories that will come from it, my coworkers and I create an itinerary that they can follow while they're in the city to make sure that they get the most out of their experience. I also prepare their press kits and make sure that they are tailored specifically for the journalists' upcoming adventures.
After the trips, we follow up with the journalists to learn about the coverage that their visit will generate. I keep records of what they did and what industry partners participated in their visit, then help with any follow up information that they may need, like backgrounders and photos.
I also do media monitoring to track information about Ottawa in different regional, national and international media outlets and how it will benefit tourism in Ottawa.
Loyalist PR: Can you share any of your highlights during your year with Loyalist PR?
Carlie: The fact that Loyalist PR is a small program is a huge advantage and a highlight in and of itself. I had the opportunity to become close friends with many of my classmates, and the friendships really helped to make the whole experience really special.
One special moment in particular, though, was when I was chosen by my classmates to be valedictorian at the end of the year. It was such a special honour to be asked to speak at the ceremony, and I was overjoyed at the opportunity! I enjoyed sitting down and reflecting on everything that had happened throughout the year, and the fact that I was chosen by my friends and classmates was really something special.
Loyalist PR: Any words of advice for current or future Loyalist PR students?
Carlie: The best way to learn something is by doing it, and Loyalist PR will give you a million opportunities to do whatever it is that you're interested, be it writing, speaking, planning events or fundraising. So take advantage of everything during your year of Loyalist PR! But don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something really new, too. You will hopefully learn something about yourself and what you're capable of!
Loyalist PR: Thanks, Carlie – great to catch up with you. All the best in your new position!