Last semester, our chapter hosted an alumni panel that gave members the opportunity to hear from recent graduates now making a name for themselves in the PR industry. The panel featured Breann Gardner, Andrea Filter, and Paige Fagan, all past members of our Executive Board and GrandPR staff. After landing positions at Meijer, Perrigo, and Lambert, Edwards & Associates, the three returned to share valuable advice with those of us who will soon be ready to take on life in the “real world.”  The pieces of advice that really stuck out to me were: 

GVSU PRSSA Alumni: Andrea Filter ’13, Paige Fagan ’12, and Breann Gardner ’13

Get Involved Now:

  • All three were actively involved in PRSSA and GrandPR during their time at Grand Valley and highly recommend being part of these groups, as well as getting involved in any other areas of interest.

Network Your Butt Off:

  • Meet as many people as you can, then establish and maintain those relationships. 
  • Be personal about networking.
  • Network within your own company when you’re at an internship. Get to know the people in other departments. 
  • Remember that professionals want to help you. They are just waiting to be asked.  (Side note: You can guarantee a “yes” if you’re asking them to coffee).

Avoid Making These Mistakes: 

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but don’t ask every question that comes to mind. Be proactive and use your resources to find the answer by yourself. 
  • Don’t assume you’re always right. Take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
  • Don’t forget to edit everything you do. Typos are a lot more embarrassing after graduation. 
  • When you are critiqued remember…“It’s not personal, it’s work. You’re learning and you’re young.” –Andrea Filter

Other Helpful Hints:

  • Do as many internships as possible in as many fields as possible. Internships are the best way to find out what you want to do.
  • Keep drama out of the workplace.
  • Don’t burn bridges. 
  • Take business classes, chances are they will come in handy. 
  • Show up early and stay late. Do everything you can to stand out. 
  • Learn to manage your inbox. Respond quickly and know how to be concise. 
  • You’re never too good for a job. Accept a “regular” job and then take initiative. Create PR responsibilities for yourself.
  • Learn the language and the culture of the company that you’re at. 
  • “Don’t be a problem spotter, be a problem solver.” –Paige Fagan

Overall, the alumni panel offered great advice and gave members a valuable look into what life in the “real-world” is like and how to make the most of our time in college now to be a success after we leave the university setting.

Connect with our alumni on Twitter: @Breann_Anderson, @AndreaJFilter and @PaigeFagan

– Emma LaMore