Not the Class I Signed Up for But is the Class I Needed
Written by: Katie Bank
Going into my final semester I was set on taking classes with professors that I knew and classes that caught my interest. As a member of Montclair State University’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) I signed up to take Bateman as my 400 level course with Professor Green. However, due to the late start of the semester, this class couldn’t take place, so I had to find another class quickly! Professor Green reached out to me and offered Hawk Communications as my 400 level course, and I am so glad that he did.
The pandemic has not been kind to me in terms of jobs and internships. Before this class, I never had a real agency experience. Yes, I learned a lot in my classes, but nothing compares to the office experience. However, this class has been an incredible alternative to an internship, as more opportunities were given to me then I would have in an office. After this class I feel more ready than ever to start a career in PR.
I jumped into this experience fully, looking to get as much out of this class as possible. I signed up to be an account leader, and ended up being a lead for both of my accounts, The Monarchs, a non-profit ice skating and hockey team for people with disabilities, and Loved and Lost, an online memorial for people who lost their life this past year to Covid-19. I quickly learned how to get organized and keep track of the team’s progress. Being a leader has taught me that there is still a lot that I need to learn. Taking on this leadership role taught me a lot about myself and where I need to make improvements and when it comes to working as a team.
Additionally, this class had me pushing my social boundaries. As much as I love talking to people, I don’t often speak up at meetings or take initiative in talking to others. Every week I created agendas, asked questions, and led the discussions with my team and our client. I was lucky enough to have helpful and fun clients and teammates to work with. The clients made me feel comfortable and I got the sense that they really wanted to help us as much as we were helping them.
Due to the pandemic, it was hard for me to show up to in-person events. I am definitely cautious when it comes to Covid and was not ready to attend. This didn’t stop any events from happening, and it didn’t stop me from contributing. It has been a challenge to work remotely, but it is possible. Luckly, members from my team were willing to attend the Monarchs “Try Skating: Free” event and I felt a part of it without even being there. I shared and posted the photos and videos that my team members took. I also generated stories out of the content that they captured, such as quotes and experiences. I also guided my team through the events they attend, telling them what to expect, who they are interviewing, and what angle they needed for the story. The pandemic has sparked a new learning and working environment, and this proves that working from home works. I learned how to make it work for myself and has allowed me to get creative in this virtual world we now live in.
I am proud of the work I did for my clients, yet felt like I could have done more. With the Monarchs, I’m proud of the way their social media looks and the stories we shared. I am still in the process of writing press releases, which I hope will lead to exciting opportunities for them.
The Monarchs have taught me how to work with people with disabilities. As they educated us, in turn I educated their followers by creating a Fact Friday, where we talk about different disabilities. This has been a great way to educate ourselves and those who come across The Monarchs Instagram and Facebook.
With Loved and Lost, I have felt humbled and honored to share stories of those who lost their lives to COVID-19. This was a tough account to work on, as the topic of death can be very devastating. It’s been a difficult year for the world, but this organization is creating beauty out of something tragic. We started-up their Instagram, showcasing the many beautiful faces this virus has sadly taken. The one thing that I am proudest of this semester is when Governor Phil Murphy shared the Loved and Lost website on his Facebook and Twitter. From that post, our client was flooded with submissions, allowing the site to tell more people’s stories.
I feel as though I have done more work in this class than I would have at any internship. I learned a lot about myself, my clients, and working as a team. I can’t help but feel that any other internship would simply have me grabbing coffee and creating lists. With guidance from Professor Green, my classmates, and teammates, at Hawk Communications I created instagram graphics, shared stories, reached out to schools, media, and elected officials. Moreover, I was given the opportunity to write press releases and pitches. I truly don’t think I would have gotten this experience anywhere else.