Monday, October 21, 2013

Grad Profile: Heather Desarmia (2012/13)


Today's Loyalist PR graduate profile features Heather Desarmia (2012/13) who is now employed as the Public Relations & Social Media Specialist for North Peace Savings and Credit Union in Fort St. John, British Columbia.
Prior to enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Heather completed a BA Arts degree with a specialization Communications from the University of Ottawa.
Loyalist PR: What made you decide to enroll in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College?
Heather: I realized that in order to get my foot in the door of the public relations world, I needed hands-on experience. Taking the public relations program at Loyalist helped me develop my skills and challenge myself in putting my classroom skills to work in real life.

Loyalist PR: How did the Post-Grad PR Program help prepare you for your current role?

Heather: Everything you learn in Loyalist PR you will use in your day-to-day job, from developing communications plans and media monitoring to writing press releases. These are all crucial PR skills that you will learn and apply immediately. Working in team settings prepared me for group work with various dynamics, teaching us time management and people management skills.


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

Heather: I absolutely loved the day trip to Toronto with the class. Getting to visit a PR firm and speaking with communications professionals was very valuable. The cherry on top of the day was the opportunity to see George Strombo live and in person!

Loyalist PR: Any words of advice for this year's Loyalist PR students?

Heather: Fully participate in all class assignments. I cannot stress enough how much of the hands-on content we practiced I actually use in day-to-day work life.

Also, start looking for internships early on. Balancing internship interviews and group work can be overwhelming [during second semester]. Looking early will also ensure you beat the rush and land a great spot! [Note: Heather interned with the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club.]

Loyalist PR: Thanks so much for your insights, Heather -- and the best of luck in BC!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Loyalist PR takes on Toronto!

Phew, what a day we had last Thursday on our annual trip to Toronto. The day began super early (yawn!), and didn't stop all day long.
Our first stop was to Edelman Toronto, one of the world's leading independent PR firms. We were hosted by Shannon, Jeff and Rosie, who made us feel right at home (thanks, guys!).
After a presentation featuring various case studies and an overview of the firm, the trio whisked us off for a tour of the firm (very impressive - we want our own terrace with wifi too!).

Next, it was off to visit Loyalist PR graduate Shonna Spicer, now with the Jays Care Foundation at the Rogers Centre. [On our way past the new Ripley's Aquarium, we waved to Loyalist PR grad Maggie Doucette, the aquarium's Media Relations Coordinator, who was conducting a media interview there -- Loyalist PR grads are EVERYWHERE!]
Shonna and her boss, Rob Drynan were on hand to show us around and made a great presentation about the fundraising arm of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team. Great presentation, guys!
We even got to visit the clubhouse - very cozy!
Finally, we made our way to CBC Studios for our annual pilgrimage to see the George Strombo show.
                           
Good times were had by all!
                           
Thanks for a great day, everyone!

All photos by Gail Paquette, Photojournalist

Grad profile: Mark Goguen (2012/13)

Today's Loyalist PR graduate profile features Mark Goguen (2012/13) who is now employed as a Communications Assistant at Quinte Conservation.
Prior to enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Mark completed a diploma in Radio Broadcasting from Loyalist College.

Loyalist PR: Can you tell us about some of your duties as Communications Assistant at Quinte Conservation?

Mark: My tasks include event planning, fundraising, updating social media feeds, designing posters, pamphlets and other promotional materials, writing media releases and much more!

Loyalist PR: Why did you decide to enrol in the Post-Grad PR Program here at Loyalist?

Mark: I decided to enroll in Loyalist PR because I wanted to explore different career options and add more skills to my resume. Loyalist PR seemed like the perfect fit for me, because I knew I would be getting hands-on training that would help me find a job.

Loyalist PR: How did the Post-Grad PR Program help prepare you for current job?

Mark: It prepared me in so many ways! When it came time to write a media release, I knew exactly what to do, and what not to do. The design class helped me more than I ever thought it would, since in this position I'm required to do a lot of design work, like brochures and posters.

Loyalist PR: Can you share with us some of your highlights from the Loyalist PR program?

Mark: My favourite highlights were our class trip to Toronto, the Halloween potluck and the Christmas party -- and pretty much anything involving food! I also really enjoyed meeting new people and making lifelong friends.

Loyalist PR: Any words of advice for this year's Loyalist PR crew?

Mark: During your internship if you work hard and show initiative and always say "yes" (when appropriate of course!), your employer will take notice. Don't get too worried if you don't find an internship right away in January. It just means the right one is around the corner. I only secured my internship two weeks before the end of the semester, and I'm still here now!

Loyalist PR: Thanks, Mark - and all the best with Quinte Conservation!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Grad Profile: Jenn Monje (2012/13)

Today's Loyalist PR graduate profile features Jenn Monje (2012/13) who is now employed as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Crawford County in Pittsburg, Kansas.

AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program designed to fight poverty in the United States.

In her role with BBBS, Jenn recruits volunteers, builds community partners, fundraises and plans events. She also oversees all of the organization's social media activities.

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Jenn completed her diploma in Social Service Work (SSW) at Loyalist.

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

Jenn: During my SSW program, I developed an interest in fundraising and planning events. One of my teachers in the program suggested I take the PR post-grad certificate.

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

Jenn: I honestly think if I had not taken this course, then I would be completely lost. I believe I have used a skill from every course in the program. I have had to use my writing and design skills to develop a monthly newsletter. I have been asked to do several small presentations to promote BBBS throughout the community. I have also had to multitask (to the extreme!) in this position, and I know that without the experience of having to multitask in the program, I would be struggling right now.

Not only  that, but I believe I learned the importance of professionalism in the PR Program. I am speaking with very important community members on a daily basis, people who are huge donors of ours. Being professional is very important -- you never know who you are going to meet!

Loyalist PR: Any favourite memories of your year in Loyalist PR?

Jenn: My favourite memories of the year include planning and attending the PRISM Awards. I had a lot of fun making the decorations and working with the "Alice in Wonderland" theme. Our year had a group of very strong and interesting individuals, and I know it would not have been as memorable without them.

Loyalist PR: Any words of wisdom for this year's Loyalist PR crew?

Jenn: Pay attention in class. You never know where you will end up in the work field. Those skills that you think don't matter now, you might have to use on a daily basis in the near future.

Loyalist PR: Thanks so much for your insights, Jenn -- and all the best in your career!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Grad Profile: Danielle Bruni (2012/13)

Today's Loyalist PR graduate profile features Danielle Bruni (2012/13) who is now employed as the Community Initiatives Coordinator with the Canadian Diabetes Association of Sault Ste. Marie & District.

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Danielle completed a diploma in Hospitality Management in Sault Ste. Marie.

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

Danielle: I chose to take the public relations program at Loyalist because I wanted to build my own brand outside of my hometown without the assistance of my family. However, if I did need to use them as a resource, they were still close by. My aunt is a teacher at the college, and I was also living with her over the course of the year while I was away at school.

I wanted change, away and out of my comfort zone, and Loyalist PR helped me realize exactly where I wanted to be -- out in front, communicating with the public.

Loyalist PR: How did the Post-Grad PR Program help prepare you for your current position?

Danielle: Classes involving all social media platforms were definitely an asset. With our second annual gala approaching, I am able to monitor our Facebook and Twitter pages effectively. Both writing classes also helped me a lot. At first, I wasn't sure I was learning anything new through my writing classes, but it wasn't until after the program was finished that I realized it was the small details that mattered the most.

I learned this especially during my internship at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls where I was asked to review and update the company's original media kit. The last time it was used was back in 2006 when they first opened. Having to write a blog post every week improved my writing abilities, even though I didn't think so at first!

Loyalist PR: Are there any highlights of your year in Loyalist PR that stand out in your mind?

Danielle: Some of my favourite memories from the Loyalist PR program were the Toronto trip, the multicultural potluck and the United Way Truckload Sale. During the Toronto trip I got to see the other side of my classmates that I didn't see every day in the classroom. With that, some of my friendships definitely grew.

I also got to see some of Toronto's top PR agencies. Throughout the tours, they told us some of the qualities they were looking for in summer interns. They also told us not to be afraid to speak up and ask a question.

For the multicultural potluck, I got a chance to taste something from everyone's family cookbook. It was awesome!

The truckload sale was interesting -- I'm sure the classroom still smells of Bounce sheets! It was a hectic, busy day for a great cause which made it all worthwhile.

Loyalist PR: Any final words of wisdom for this year's Loyalist PR crew?

Danielle: "Don't say the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon." ~ Anonymous

Friday, October 04, 2013

Grad Profile: Justin Reis (2012/13)

Today's Loyalist PR graduate profile features Justin Reis (2012/13) who is now employed as a Research Associate in the Loyalty division of Ipsos Reid in Toronto.
Prior to enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Justin completed a Bachelor's degree in Public Affairs & Policy Management from Carleton University.
Loyalist PR: What made you decide to enroll in the Post-Grad PR Program at Loyalist?
Justin: My university program had a PR class in my final year. I loved it, and decided to pursue it at the post-graduate level.

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

Justin: Well, first off, it got me the job. I interned in the Public Affairs division of Ipsos Reid and when there was an opening, I got a referral from my manager which got me the position.

With my PR background, I was also able to draw on real experience producing reports and other tangible things that had an effect in the real world.

As far as skills go, I work a lot with business clients. PR, from an organization perspective, is all about providing a service. I learned a lot about dealing with people from that position with our client work in second semester, which definitely prepared me for this job.

Loyalist PR: Any favourite memories from your year in Loyalist PR?

Justin: How can I pick just one? I have to say my biggest takeaway from the program was all the great experience I had with people. The people in my class, the people we did work for, the people in the community at large. We had some great times and some stressful times, but I wouldn't trade those times for anything.

Loyalist PR: Any words of wisdom to offer this year's Loyalist PR students?

Justin: First, focus on your writing. Good writing is a skill that few people have, but everyone wants. The best way to improve is to practice. Write, edit, erase, get feedback, try again. It's worth it in the end.

Second, get involved. Volunteer. Join a student organization. Employers are always looking for experience, and the best way for a student to get experience is by getting involved. It counts.

Loyalist PR: Thanks, Justin! We're proud of all you've accomplished in the short time since you've graduated. We wish you the very best of success.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Grad Profile: Lola McMurter (2012/13)

Today's Loyalist PR graduate profile features Lola McMurter (2012/13) who is now employed as the Special Events Coordinator for The Lung Association.

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program, Lola studied Health Administration and Human Resources Management.

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

Lola: I wanted something that would complement my degree and make me more employable. PR seemed a natural fit since I was interested in fundraising and communications.

Loyalist PR: How did the Post-Grad PR Program help prepare you for your current position?

Lola: I have used absolutely everything I learned! Even though there were times I thought I wouldn't use the material (i.e. how to create a media kit), I have used a wide range of skills in the fundraising events I have coordinated.

Loyalist PR: Any favourite memories of your year in Loyalist PR?

Lola: All of it - I had a blast! I especially enjoyed going to Steam Whistle (in Toronto) as part of our fall class trip.

Loyalist PR: Any words of wisdom for this year's Loyalist PR students?

Lola: Have fun and pay attention --  it's all useful! Enjoy - it goes by fast!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Grad Profile: Pascalle Desjardins (2012/13)

Today's Loyalist PR graduate profile features Pascalle Desjardins (2012/13) who is now employed as Public Relations Coordinator for the Brighton & District Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Pascalle completed a diploma in Recreation & Leisure Studies at Loyalist.

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

Pascalle: After graduating from Recreation & Leisure, I didn't feel ready to go out into the working world. The public relations course started to come up within my circle of friends towards the end of the year. I knew a few people who had taken Rec & Leisure and then PR, so I started to ask them questions about the program. Growing up, I was always putting people before myself, and doing whatever I could to make others happy. What I didn't realize is that PR is a great fit for non-profit work; I felt it was the perfect fit for me!

Loyalist PR: How did the Post-Grad PR Program help prepare you for your current position?

Pascalle: It prepared me in ways I didn't expect it to. Public speaking and interacting with people has become a lot easier. I'm still not the best writer out there, but I did learn! I've used my writing skills when writing articles for a mini-magazine for our members. I was pretty comfortable with social media going into PR, but I did learn new things, and that has helped me improve the social media footprint of at the Brighton & District Chamber of Commerce. I'm always been complimented for being so prompt at posting things online!

Loyalist PR: Any favourite memories from your year in Loyalist PR?

Pascalle: Oh, the memories! One of my favourite memories is when we did our first three-minute speech in front of the class. Being French, I speak fast -- and when you add nerves into the equation, it's bad news! I remember spending hours practicing in front of my family for that presentation.

While presenting, I was nervous as can be. Now, looking back, I dont' know why I was so nervous. I've had to face much bigger groups with longer presentations, and I've done just fine!

Planning the end-of-the-year PRISM Awards luncheon is an awesome memory! I had such a good group to work with! During the year, I didn't have the chance to work with all my classmates. It was pretty special to get to really know them while planning such an important event for the entire class.

Loyalist PR: Any words of wisdom to share with this year's Loyalist PR students?

Pascalle: You will feel out of your comfort zone at times, but it's all a part of growing and becoming a better "you". Don't be afraid to try new things, have a positive attitude and make friends!

Loyalist PR: Thanks, Pascalle -- and good luck with the Chamber!

Loyalist PR Alumni Panel 2013

A huge THANKS to our nine Loyalist PR alumni members who took part in our panel yesterday.

It was so great to see everyone again, and to hear you share your experiences and insights with this year's crew of Loyalist PR students!

Special thanks to:

Stacey Wickens - The Lavin Agency (Toronto)
Colleen Vickers - City of Quinte West
Chris Thompson - Ottawa Senators
Luc Fournier - Belleville Chamber of Commerce
Adrienne Barrie - Northumberland Hills Hospital
Sarah Tummon - Downtown Belleville Business Association
Elysia Geen - Loyalist College
Jeannie Maidens - Town of Port Hope
Lola McMurter - The Lung Association

Thanks again, everyone!