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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.

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

ISO: A few good nonprofits that need fundraising help

Are you a nonprofit in the greater Eugene area? Are you interested in working with a University of Oregon student this spring to develop online fundraising materials?

If so, read on!

Two years ago I taught a class at the University of Oregon called Nonprofit Fundraising Communication. Students worked with Eugene- and Portland-area nonprofits to develop a number of donor-targeted materials, including appeal letters, donor newsletters and annual report infographics.

This spring I’m teaching the course again – with a twist. Instead of focusing on general fundraising, this class will focus on online crowdfunding using a multimedia approach: email appeals, social media and video, among other things.

Time commitment: I’m looking for nonprofits interested in working with students over a 10-week period from early April to mid-June 2017.  Students in this class will be required to volunteer a minimum of 15 hours doing fundraising-related work for nonprofits. This means we’re looking for nonprofits that have the time and capacity to supervise the student-volunteers.

Crowdfunding project: We are specifically looking for nonprofits who need or want to develop an online crowdfunding campaign. Since crowdfunding works best when your nonprofit has an email database of donors and social media presence/following, that would be ideal – but not a dealbreaker. Crowdfunding also works best when you have a specific need to raise funds for (a program, project, piece of technology, etc.).

Is this something you’re interested in? We’d love to work with you! Email PR Instructor Courtney Munther at to learn more.

5 Tips for Building a Relationship with your Faculty Advisor

Faculty advisor: The term itself sounds intimidating. Many students feel hesitant or nervous to meet with their faculty advisor for a wide number of reasons. However, advisors are incredible resources when it comes to advice, course planning, job opportunities, letters of recommendation and resume feedback.

1. Who is your faculty advisor?

This may seem simple, but it is important to know who your assigned faculty advisor is before moving forward. This information can be found in DuckWeb in your degree audit or by visiting Student Services in room 134 of Allen Hall. If for some reason, you would like to switch advisors you may do so in Student Services.

2. Introduce Yourself.

This can be over email or in-person. Advisors are assigned to many students, some of which they never have the pleasure of meeting. It is important just to let your faculty advisor know that you are around and interested in talking with them. If you are having a hard time getting started, click here for an introductory email template.

3. Set Up an Initial Meeting.

If you have already met with your advisor for Journalism 352, try setting up a follow-up meeting. J352 meetings are often very brief and short because advisors have to meet with so many students at this time. Setting up a follow-up meeting can give you more time to get to know your advisor and address any specific questions or concerns you may have.

4. Ask Questions.

Students often feel pressure to have it all figured out, but the truth is, we don’t…and that is okay. Advisors are there to help you ask questions and get answers. They have worked in a variety of fields and cities with a multitude of students and professionals. They are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to learning more about PR. Don’t be afraid to ask them when you just don’t know.

5. Make a Meaningful Connection.

While meeting with your advisor once might be an assignment for J352, having a relationship with your advisor can go far beyond that. Keep in touch with your advisor. This can be done by sending periodic emails with questions or updates or by setting up occasional meetings to go over your progress. Don’t just use them as a tool. Faculty advisors may be excellent resources for recommendations or job leads but, it is important for them to get to know you in order to do that effectively. The more your advisor gets to know you, the more likely he/she/they is to know what opportunities and feedback might be beneficial to you.

PR student Lily Gordon, who is a junior in the SOJC, said, “the first time I met with my advisor I was nervous but as soon as I entered her office I immediately felt welcome and important. Since then I have been able to build a relationship with my advisor that has helped me achieve my academic goals and create a resume that I feel confident sending to employers.”

Meeting with an advisor for the first time may seem daunting but just remember, they are there to help you…and they want to.


Written by Sophie Ey