Let’s see what past GVPRSSA students are up to after graduation. For this GVPRSSA alumni series, I caught up with Emily Gagnon, the former GrandPR CEO and now a young public relations professional. During her time with GVPRSSA and GrandPR, she won various awards for her dedication to the organizations, such as the PRSSA National Gold Key Award from the PRSA Foundation (alongside 2019-2020 GV PRSSA President Delaney MacKenzie), the Excellence-in-a-Discipline Award from Grand Valley State University Advertising and Public Relations Program, and the Thomas M. Seykora Award for Outstanding Contribution from Grand Valley State University.

Emily is currently working for LEAD Marketing Agency in Grand Rapids as a Digital Media Manager. Working as a Digital Media Manager, she plans, implements, optimizes, and reports all LEAD clients’ paid digital advertising. However, working as a Digital Media Manager was not technically Emily’s dream job; she has always kept an open mind throughout college and her professional career. In advertising and public relations, you can follow many different avenues, which is why many students are drawn to this industry. “I enjoy being able to work on multiple projects simultaneously, I enjoy working with data to discover trends and provide analysis, and I enjoy navigating the ever-changing digital landscape. Knowing this about myself, I was very interested in finding a post-graduate position working in digital media. This position checked all of my boxes, and I was so excited to apply,” says Emily. If you’re interested in working with digital data and analysis, a job in digital media might be right up your alley. 

Applying to jobs or internships can be difficult, and Emily has some great experience and advice for that daunting task. One thing that helped her when applying for jobs is tailoring her application materials to that unique position. “If I were applying to a social media position, I would include more information about my experience as a Social Media Intern at Experience Grand Rapids, whereas if I were applying for a product marketing position, I would add more details from my time at Steelcase as a Marketing Student Associate. Resumes are prime real estate to share information. Unfortunately, we can’t include every detail on an 8″ x 11″ document, so I choose wisely when sharing my resume to make sure I put my best foot forward,” says Emily. By showcasing her qualifications, talents, and experience, she was able to land the LEAD Marketing Agency job as the Digital Media Specialist working primarily with SEM campaigns but then recently promoted to her current position, Digital Media Manager.

Reminiscing the Past

Emily was a huge part of the GVPRSSA and GrandPR community as the CEO of GrandPR. Her favorite part of being involved with GVPRSSA and GrandPR was gaining knowledge in advertising and public relations and working alongside a group of peers, who are still some of her closest friends. “I have glorious memories from big events like PRSSA National Conferences and CreateAthon, but I also cherish small moments of working late nights with my teams on our projects and socializing after general assembly meetings. My teammates and I always had a fun time brainstorming out-of-the-box ideas at the beginning of a project, as well as practicing for our final presentations,” says Emily. GVPRSSA and GrandPR provide a unique experience for students to fully immerse themselves in the public relations world and gain those vital skills to be prepared for their next adventure. 

Give Me All the Advice 

When asked what advice Emily has for current seniors and juniors, she says, “At the end of the year, it might seem like you have a never-ending to-do list and you’re just trying to survive, but prioritize proper rest so that you can recharge and give every ounce of effort to perfect your assignments. Many of your projects can be used as portfolio pieces when interviewing, so aim to exceed expectations, don’t try to just skate by.” Additionally, if she could give her past college self advice, she would soak up every moment. “Have fun with the projects you are working on, and more importantly, the people you are working with. College is an awesome time to work alongside individuals who are going through many of the same challenges you are, so confide in each other, support each other, listen to each other, learn from each other, and don’t forget to laugh,” Emily says.

If you’re interested in connecting or catching up with Emily Gagnon, check her out on LinkedIn

About the Author:

Emily Clevenger

Emily Clevenger is a senior at Grand Valley State University studying Communications, with a minor in Advertising & Public Relations. This is her first year involved in PRSSA, and her first year serving on E-Board as the VP of Public Relations. Emily plans to one day have a career in Public Relations or Communication in Grand Rapids, MI. In her free time, she is working for a non-profit organization called Bloom & Grow Coffee, cooking Pinterest meals, and spending time with her friends and family.