Life as a public relations major: Q&As with current seniors

By Caitlin Fratkin

As acceptance letters begin arriving, high school students across the nation commit to the university that will become their new home in a matter of months. To provide some insight into what life as a public relations student at the University of Oregon is like, we caught up with a few current SOJC PR seniors.

Katie Dawes, Senior, Double Majoring in Public Relations and Media Studies

What are some extracurriculars in which you are involved? Do you hold any positions? How has your involvement impacted your experience at UO?
I am an account executive for Allen Hall Public Relations (AHPR) and copywriter for Allen Hall Media. I am also lead registration assistant at Continuing and Professional Education. Getting involved with AHPR helped me decide what I want to do for my career. I found that I love working in media outreach and I would not have figured that out without the experience AHPR gave me.

Have you had an internship? If so, with whom and how was your experience?
I interned Summer of 2018 at BLND Public Relations in Hermosa Beach doing social media and public relations for consumer and lifestyle clients. I loved working at BLND constantly learning and performing hands on tasks. Because it was a smaller boutique firm, interns were able to gain a wealth of knowledge. Being a block from the beach didn’t suck either.

What is one piece of advice you might give to an incoming freshman?
Get involved! Take advantage of what the university has to offer. There are so many clubs and organizations to join and you can 100 percent find your passion if you step outside your comfort zone.

What does it mean to be a #Duck?
Being a Duck means learning how to get by with excessive amounts of rain! Duh?

What’s next after graduating?
After graduating I want to get a work visa and practice public relations in Australia. I have a family out there and why not do what I love in a new and exciting place?

Daniella Espino, Senior, Majoring in Public Relations

What are some extracurriculars in which you are involved? Do you hold any positions? How has your involvement impacted your experience at UO?
I am an account supervisor in Allen Hall Public Relations working on the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. I am also volunteer coordinator for the University of Oregon chapter of Camp Kesem which recruits, trains and selects counselors for this very special camp. I served as the social chair for my sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, my sophomore year. Being involved has tremendously impacted my experience. I have really expanded my network of peers and found some incredibly passionate friends along the way. I am not defined by my extra circulars but I set the perimeters of how I define them.

Have you had an internship? If so, with whom and how was your experience?
Yes, I interned last summer at CBS television network in Los Angeles in the marketing department as a media planning and marketing intern. I absolutely loved my experience because they have an established program where they cater to the interns who are curious students that hope to be in the entertainment industry one day. The position was not necessarily public relations but I was able to prove to myself that the skills I’ve learned in my classes are transferable to other positions under the umbrella of journalism.

What is one piece of advice you might give to an incoming freshman?
Join an organization for fun like intramural sports or a service group because you will enjoy having a community outside of academics. There are plenty of opportunities to grow in the journalism school so don’t sweat it early on in your career.

What does it mean to be a #Duck?
Being a Duck means opportunities beyond your imagination. Sounds cheesy, but as a first gen kid who had very specific details on what I wanted in a college, I picked UO because I could see myself growing as a person here with the endless amounts of possibilities whether they were academic or extra-circular.

Jillian Rogers, Senior, Majoring in Public Relations

What are some extracurriculars in which you are involved? Do you hold any positions? How has your involvement impacted your experience at UO?
I’m involved with the competitive equestrian team and the sailing team. I did Duck TV for three years as a sports reporter and social media for Duck TV Sports. I’ve also been an account supervisor for AHPR and a member of UO PRSSA. Being involved has drastically changed my experience at the UO because I felt more connected to the university. My freshman year, I thought about transferring because I didn’t feel like I belonged at the university. But after I joined my two club sports and got more involved with extracurricular activities, I can honestly say I’ve had the best experience.

Have you had an internship? If so, with whom and how was your experience?
I’ve had two internship with two drastically different companies. I was a public relations and events intern with Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center which is a clinic that provides healthcare to low income and migrant farm workers. That internship gave me a lot of perspective because I never saw myself working in healthcare but the experience of working in-house and for a clinic I believe makes me more well rounded as I enter into the public relations field. The second was as a public relations and events intern for Portland Fashion and Style Awards Show that hosts an award show once a year that acknowledges local talent in the fashion industry. While both internships gave me insights on how to plan events and in-house public relations skills, they were both drastically different, not only in the industries they are in, but how they run their companies and the type of promotion needed.

What is one piece of advice you might give to an incoming freshman?
One piece of advice I would give to incoming freshman would be to get as involved as you can. It sounds cliché, but it really changed my experience. I went from wanting to leave the university to dreading graduation.

What does it mean to be a #Duck?
Being a #Duck is a sense of community. Within the journalism school, you become a family as you go through the classes and years together.

What’s next after graduating?
I decided to make a big change and move to Austin, Texas after graduation and so I hope to find myself at a public relations agency there.

Are you a prospective UO SOJC student? Learn more about admissions or how to schedule a visit and follow SOJC PR on Twitter for real time updates on events, programs and general department happenings.

Five Tips for Studying Abroad From One PR Student’s Experience

By Caitlin Fratkin

The best decision I’ve made thus far in college? Studying abroad.

If we’re being honest, I was absolutely terrified to leave the country for an entire summer. I would constantly get asked, “How pumped are you to go live abroad for six  weeks?” In my head I was thinking that a part of me didn’t even want to go, but aloud I always told them that I couldn’t wait. The idea of studying abroad was a daunting one to me, but also one that made me more anxiously excited than any other experience I could have had in these four years – and possibly my lifetime.

First weekend in London studying abroad.

Flash forward to June 23, 2018 and I was boarding a 10-hour flight to London to study journalism for the next six weeks with some of my very best friends. Passport, 100 pounds of luggage and an abundance of nerves in hand, I was ready to go. Surprisingly, the flight wasn’t too miserable, which was great news for an anxious flyer like me. Best way to beat the jet lag? Try seven movies and an overnight flight. That way when arriving to your destination, you’ll have had a full night’s rest, fresh and ready for a full day in a new country.

Instead of writing about the entirety of my experience abroad (which could very well take up 20 pages) I figured I would give brief highlights from my European exposure to drive home the value of studying abroad.

Kayla and me arriving to the airport to embark on our summer travels. My parents obviously had to document the moment.

Most weekend trips in Europe are a short one to three hour plane ride away. While studying in London, my friends and I took three different weekend trips, with each  taking us no longer than two hours via plane. Barcelona is the prime spot for a beach getaway. Amsterdam is where you end up wanting to stay for months because of its utter tranquility. Prague is full of history and the beautiful views that extend across the entire city. So, travel! -Travel, travel, travel! Take advantage of the opportunity to hop on a plane and immerse yourself in the many cultures this world has to offer.

It goes without being said but the food. The wide range of cuisines you will encounter when traveling internationally will easily transform your outlook on food and what it really means to a culture. Hands down the best food was in Italy. Surprise, surprise, the best food was Italian, but it can’t get better than homemade pasta, pizza and bread.

The. best. pasta. ever. Bubbling truffle gnocchi in Florence, Italy.

The overall best advice I can give is to enjoy every moment. I never knew time could fly by so quickly until I traveled the world. Take time to soak up the moments and be present. Many opportunities only come around once and this is one that has the potential to change your life tragetory and world view.  

Now enough about me. I asked friends who have traveled abroad for some top tips pulling out the most beneficial ones for future travelers.

Plan any excursions or outside trips ahead of time to save money and stress on flights and trains!

Planning ahead was the most common and most emphasized when asking for top recommendations from my peers. One of the most important aspects of traveling abroad is planning to ensure saving money as well as reducing stress and time spent looking for flights and arranging itineraries.

If you go to a non-English speaking country, know a few phrases in their language and downloading the Google Map of the area you’re in.

Download a translation application on your phone. Traveling to parts of the world where the first language isn’t English can be extremely stressful and difficult. Communicating with Uber or taxi drivers  and navigating transportation in general seemed to prove the most difficult

Be open to adapting to new cultures., Be patient and understanding with people native to that country.

Let go of all expectations and ideas of what traveling abroad may be like. The best thing you can do is have an open mind to what might happen. Be flexible and remain calm in stressful situations.

The fab five take Abbey Road.

Don’t use any of the exchange rate places if you’re exchanging small amounts of cash.

Being unaware of little tips or shortcuts while abroad can make a trip hard and frustrating. By all means, take out money when you need to use cash, however most exchange rate kiosks will try and scam you out of money, so always be on the look out for post offices and banks, which will give better rates.

Do the touristy stuff one day, but make sure to have a day to explore the city’s hidden spots!

Tourist spots are a must for many, as they’re hallmarks of particular  countries and cities, but be sure to do the research ahead of time by reading blogs and boutique websites.That way you can see a city’s more authentic side. . Although famous restaurants and landmarks can make an incredible trip, finding hidden gems and hole in the wall places make for more unique experiences.

Ready to head abroad? Talk to the SOJC advising team and your faculty advisor to see how it fits into your academic track. Also visit the Global Education Oregon (GEO) to learn more about specific programs, scholarships, and general study abroad opportunities.

Five tips for having an internship during the school year

By Lily Gordon

What are you going to do after graduation? Are you getting enough experience in school? Are you meeting the right people to jump into public relations? What are you doing now?

Ah, college students experience a waterfall of stress during the holiday season. Family members vocalize the worries already gnawing away at soon-to-be grads. Looking ahead to winter and spring terms, one of the best ways to address those concerns is to get relevant experiences while still taking classes. Whether it’s a part-time internship at a local nonprofit or a more time-intensive role through the university, professional work can flesh out portfolios and give students a leg up when applying for full-time positions.

The following are some best practices for students when considering an internship during the academic year. While taking on a career-relevant position and classes simultaneously has its benefits, it can also be tough finding the right fit. Understanding your personal bandwidth, asking the right people for help and identifying the most valuable opportunities are key to having a positive internship experience during the academic year.

1. Figure out what you can realistically manage. “Having an internship feels like having a real-world job in PR,” says UO Public Relations senior Abbey Tozer, who is currently doing a crisis communications internship at Lane County Health and Human Services in Eugene. “That said, I have to remind myself that my top priority is still my academics, so finding that equilibrium has proven to be challenging at times.” Some part-time internships require 10-12 hours a week. Others, however, can be more demanding. The first step in the search process is to outline your own time and geographic constraints during the school year. It can be a good idea to plan your schedule with large gaps between classes or even entire days free that can be dedicated to work. If transportation is an issue, see if working remotely is an option. Social media roles are one of the most common types of remote internships.

2. Talk to your advisor. The SOJC advising team provides both academic and professional guidance. Whether it’s helping you figure out what internships would best complement your current course load or letting you know about great opportunities within the SOJC, they can help make the internship dream become a reality. If neither drop-in hours nor available appointments work for you, or you’d simply like a second opinion, the UO Career Center is an advising option outside of Allen Hall. The Career Center team offers individual advising as well as classes and workshops on gaining real world professional experience.

Photo source Wolfram Burner via Flickr

3. Peruse available databases. The SOJC Jobs and Internships database is constantly being updated and features open positions all over the country. On average, it has more Oregon-based internships than other databases, such as LinkedIn, Indeed or, which caters well to students seeking an opportunity during the academic year. The UO Career Center database also has a Pacific Northwest slant, lending well to feasible, academic year, part-time internships. Finally, many national organizations, such as the Public Relations Student Society of America, have robust internship databases that highlight open positions around the world.

4. Do informational interviews. Sitting down with a professional to chat for 45 minutes can help broaden your network. While Skype and Facetime have made it easier to connect with people outside of your immediate area, nothing compares to meeting with a professional face to face. In addition to having a more natural conversation vis-á-vis, meeting with relevant professionals in Eugene means meeting with individuals for whom you could realistically intern during the academic year. Read more about the general benefits of informational interviews here.

5. Talk to upperclass(wo)men. Turnover with internships in a college town is high. Students come. Students graduate. Get to know your peers currently working as brand ambassadors, social media managers or in other part-time, internship positions. If you’re interested in the tasks they get to do and the company for which they work, that relationship can be a good way to get your foot in the door. This is particularly true if they are two or three years ahead of you in school. Relationships are everything in public relations!

Have you had an internship while also taking classes? Tell us what worked, what you wish had gone differently or any advice you’d have for others pursuing an internship during the academic year on our Twitter, @SOJCPR.

Things to do over the Summer

Summer is almost here! Many of you are getting excited about your travels, internship, classes or just relaxing by the pool. Whatever you are doing I encourage you to take some time to do one of the following:

  •     Blog

Are you studying abroad? Taking classes? Summer is a great opportunity to start a blog and talk about your travels, reflect on classes you are taking or write about a new skill you are learning. Blogging is a chance to put the photography skills we all learned in Gateway to use. Find something you want to write about and do it!

  •     Read

Read books for pleasure. Whether you are on a plane, by the swimming pool or in your backyard, pick-up a book and read it. If you are unsure what to read ask your professors or friends for recommendations.

  •     Get certified

This is a great time to get certified in Hootsuite, CISION, Google Analytics or anything else you may be interested in. As students, it can be challenging to find time in our busy school schedules to do these things. So, take advantage of these three months to learn a new skill and get certified.

  •     Work on your online portfolio

Gather all the materials you have created in classes, student groups and internships. This will save you a lot of time in the future when you are creating your portfolio/website. If you already have the content and are ready to create a portfolio, great! Go for it! Summer is a great time to work on your portfolio.

  •     Do informational interviews

Find people in your town that are doing something you would like to do in the future and take them out for coffee. It’s never too late or too early to network and learn from someone in the industry. Did you talk to someone a couple of months ago? Send them a message and ask to meet again to share an update on what you have been up to.

  •     Relax and recharge for next year

Be sure to take some time to relax. Go to a museum, concert, spend time with friends or watch a movie. You have worked so hard this year so, take some time for yourself. Do things that help you unwind and will help fill you with energy for next year. Relax and recharge!

Have a wonderful summer!

Networking Tips

Networking can seem overwhelming and even intimidating at first. It is an essential skill, crucial for all public relations practitioners. The truth is, there are no hidden secrets to networking, but there are a few tips that can help you be successful at it and in turn, broaden your professional network.

Here are a few tips for success:

  1. Join organizations

 There are many student organizations within the UO School of Journalism and Communication as well as on campus. Being involved in these groups will help you broaden your network by going tomeetings where they have guest speakers.

Here are a few of the student organizations to get involved with:

  1. Contact professionals for informational interviews

Informational interviews are a key component to networking. An informational interview is an opportunity for you and the professional to know each other. It your chance to ask questions about his or her specific industry. At times, professionals that you have a good relationship with will pass along your resume to human resources or “flag it.” Note: make sure to send the professional a thank you letter after the informational interview.

  1. Keep in touch!

If you meet a professional somewhere or have an informational interview with them, don’t be afraid to reach back out in a few months later and them know what you are up. You can also share an article related to something interesting that you talked about. Relationships are a two-way street and the professional is helping you out but, you need to be the one to stay in touch for the relationship to stay alive.

  1. Never stop networking

Even after graduation it is important to never stop networking. Students tend to think that the purpose of networking is solely to get  a job after college, but networking is truly about building relationships with people and learning from people. Once students graduate and land their first job, the chances of them having that same job three years later is slim so you need to keep networking. You never know, it could lead to your next job.

Networking can feel awkward at first, but after you talk to numerous professionals you learn how to talk with them and build a mutually beneficial relationship. Be open minded when it comes to networking and network with everyone that you can because you never know what connections the person you are talking to has. That person may not be working within your specific industry, but they may have a best friend who has your dream job.

Remember that networking is a mutually beneficial relationship and to never stop networking!

Certifications to help you stand out

You may be part of an on-campus organization, volunteer somewhere in town, have internships or outstanding class work. Despite all of this, you may still be wondering, what else can I do to best prepare for a job after college? How about… online certifications? Online certifications can broaden your skills and help you stand out from your peers.

Consider doing some of the following:

Cision is the “leading global provider of PR software and services including content marketing, media monitoring, media list building, distribution, and analysis.” Cision University Program is an opportunity for college students to get hands-on experience with this software by familiarizing themselves with it, building lists and generating reports. To complete the certification you must: take the online course, complete the knowledge checks after each section, take the final exam and get a 90 percent or above and finally, log a minimum of 20 hours in CisionPoint. This certification takes around 30 hours to complete and is a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with a software that you will likely use in your PR career.

This certification will prove your skills and familiarity with Google and Digital analytics. To get certified you have to take the free online courses, and pass the 90-minute multiple choice exam with an 80 percent or above. This certification takes around 30 hours and you will learn how to analyze online website and mobile traffic. Upon completion, your certificate is valid for one year.

You can get several certifications through Hootsuite to enhance your social media and analytical skills. Some of these certifications include Platform Certification and Social Marketing Certification. The process for completing the certifications are to take the free online courses and an exam to get certified. The completion time varies depending on the certification, but the format is similar.

Like these, there many other certifications that expand your knowledge and skill set. I highly encourage you to make time in your calendar and do one of these certifications. Upon completion make sure to tell your PR friends about your experience and add it to your resume and LinkedIn profile. So, what are you waiting for?

How to find and land a summer internship

Internships are a great way to gain experience and stand out from the crowd in the competitive public relations industry. I’m sure this is not the first time you’ve heard this but, you may be wondering, where do I find an internship or how do I get an internship without having any experience? The secrets are: start looking early and network.

Start looking early:

When looking for a summer internship the first thing you need to figure out is where you will be for the summer. Are you going back home, staying at school or going somewhere completely new? That is the first step.

The next step is looking for the internship. The University of Oregon’s Career Center’s website has Duck Connect, which is a database where jobs and internships are posted from all over the country. Another good resource to keep in mind when looking for internships is the UO’s School of Journalism and Communication’s job/internship database, which has journalism major specific internships from all over the country. The best time to start looking for internships is in January/February. Add looking for internships into your daily routine so you can apply right away for ones that you are interested in before they are taken.


Contact professionals that work at places you are interested in interning at for informational interviews. Build a relationship with them and let them know you are looking for a summer internship. They may have something available that they can let you know of or they may know of another contact at a different company that may have a good internship for you. It is important to remember that not all jobs and internships are posted online, so networking is a key component when looking for internships.

Networking will also help you land that summer internship because the professional will have already talked to you before you have applied for the internship so they will have a sense of who you are versus meeting you for the first time on paper. Another great resource to utilize is your peers and SOJC faculty! SOJC students intern at cool places every summer and a student may have a contact at a company you are looking to intern at. Faculty also know alumni and other professionals that work at public relations agencies and in-house so they have a wide network. Make sure to reach out and ask around, you never know, one of your classmates or professors may be able to help you land the summer internship you are looking for.

Finding a summer internship at times may seem daunting or even impossible, but as a student at the University of Oregon you have many people who are willing to help you. So, take advantage of that and utilize your resources. Also, keep in mind that summer internships do not have to be glamorous to gain good experience. Small companies in a smaller town also can provide great experience so be open minded and the right internship will come along!

Three reasons why you should do informational interviews

Informational interviews are an informal conversation with a working professional that you are interested in learning about what they do, or where they work. They are an opportunity to learn about the different sectors within public relations and an environment you may end up working at after graduation. Depending on your location, they are either over the phone or in person. There are numerous benefits to conducting informational interviews.

Here are our top three reasons:

  • Learn about the industry and workplace

Can you think of a better way to get insight about a field you are interested in than talking to someone who is doing it day in and day out? If you are interested in the Food and Beverage industry, informational interviews are a great way to learn more about this area. If you are still trying to decide what area of PR you are interested in, informational interviews are a great way to find this out. By talking to current working professionals about what their day-to-day looks like, you learn about what the workplace is like and what it could look like for you. You also get a fresh perspective about the industry by hearing about projects they are working on.

  • Get advice

This a great opportunity to ask professionals about what you can do now or take advantage of to get your dream job. You can also get advice about how to break into a specific industry or any other concerns you may have. I often like to ask professionals what they would have done differently to prepare themselves to get to where they are.   

  • Broaden your network

Informational interviews are a great way to introduce yourself by showing genuine interests in the person, their career, where they work or the industry as a whole. Be sure to choose who you interview wisely. Try connecting with people who you would like to have their job some day or work where they are working. Take this time to ask questions that you may not get answered anywhere else.  After the interview, be sure to send a thank you note and check in every now and then to continue growing the relationship.

No matter how busy working professionals are, most of them are willing to talk to young professionals. So, get out there, research, be curious and start a conversation.
Good luck!

A few blogs to follow

Blogs are a great way to stay up-to-date with the industry, trends and identify influencers. No matter what you are interested in, PR or not, there is likely a blog about it.

If you are unsure where to start or are looking for a new blog to follow, consider the suggestions below. If you already read our top picks or have a favorite blog not featured in this list, share it with the SOJC PR community by commenting below.

  • Agency blogs

Most agencies have a blog where they post about industry trends, news and even career tips. If you’d like to hear from the CEO of Edelman, consider reading 6 A.M. In this blog, you will find information about communication trends, lessons and insights from Richard Edelman. Interested in technology? Consider reading The SHIFT blog. In this blog, you will not only find information about the tech industry but also get a unique perspective on the communications industry as a whole.

There are also many others similar to these. So, if you are interested in working for a specific agency go to their website, find out if they have a blog and read it.

Both of these on campus organizations have blogs that talk about trends, tips, industries, interests and lessons learned. These blogs are particularly interesting because they are written by your peers, so they tend to talk about things you are familiar with and have a unique perspective that you can relate to. They tend to mention people and places you may know (for example study places in Eugene), which always makes them a fun read.

This blog focuses on professional development and training for communicators. Fun fact, Gini Dietrich, the lead blogger, came to the University of Oregon to talk about her book Spin Sucks. So, if you are looking for a Spring Break read consider buying this book.

In this blog, you will find posts about newsworthy events and how they apply to the PR communications industry. This blog is a great way to get tips while you drink your cup of coffee in the morning. Some sample posts are “5 ideas to jazz up your presentations” and “4 ways PR pros can digitally detox.”

Other blogs to consider:

As aspiring PR professionals looking to enter the field, it’s important to get into the habit of reading constantly. So, surf the web and find a blog to follow!

A Quick Guide to Online Portfolios

“Online portfolios are a make or break.” “They’re the way to get your name out there and a foot in the door.” You’ve heard professors and professionals say these words time and time again. Websites and online portfolios are a quintessential part of being a student and a young professional so its important to make yours stand out. You know that having a prideful e-portfolio is important, but what exactly should you put on your page?

About Me

This is the perfect place to tell potential employers who you are and what you can do. It can include where your from, your favorite past times or a fun fact. It is always good to include your school name, major and expected graduation time. Additionally, be sure to include your career related goals so that employers can sense if you would be a good fit for their company. What industry do you want to work in? What city do you want to work in?Agency or in-house?

For example, “I aspire to work in at a large technology public relations agency in Chicago upon graduation.”

Work Samples

Only include your best work. If you aren’t proud of and passionate about a sample, it’s not worth showing to a potential employer. Pick out your best and brightest pieces and show them off. You can use samples from classes or internships if you have had any. It is always good to show a variety of skills. For example, a news release to show writing, an infographic to show design and an PR plan to show strategic thinking. A wide range of samples shows all of your different skills and attributes. Just be careful not to crowd your page with too many work samples.


Include a tab for your resume where you can upload it as an image and link to the PDF. This way if your work samples draw in a potential employer they can learn even more about you and your experience.


The addition of a “contact” section on your website ensures that anyone who wants to reach out can. You can include a contact form available through many hosting sites, such as WordPress and Square Space, that allows visitors to put their information and a brief description of why they want to get in contact with you. You can also just add your email, LinkedIn or phone number for contact. If you really want to cover your bases, do both!


Online portfolios allow you to connect with professionals and show off all of your talents and skills. They are a great way to incorporate who you are into what you do. When creating an e-portfolio, however, it is important to keep it up-to-date. If a potential employer looks you up online and finds your portfolio with a resume from 2015, and work samples to match, they aren’t seeing your best and brightest work. Every time you have a new piece that makes you glow, add it on! Every time you have a new, stunning version of your resume, update it! Just make sure as you add you look through your older pieces and determine if they are still relevant.

Most of all, remember that online portfolios are all about you…so have fun with them!


Written by Sophie Ey