One of the great things about a career in public relations is the ability to work with some of your favorite brands as you help them on their next chapter.
For many of us, working for our dream brands may seem like a far-off career goal. For others, like Haley Elizabeth Williams, a senior at Temple University and director of membership at Temple PRSSA, working with an iconic brand such as Victoria’s Secret/PINK is actually part of her college experience.
Recently I met with Williams to discuss how she ended up working for this brand while still in college, what the experience meant to her, and how she has developed her personal brand and skill sets along the way. See some of my insights below.
For Williams, creativity has always been a part of her personality.
“I knew from a young age that I was good at writing and very creative, but I didn’t know how that would translate into an actual job,” said Williams.
Williams recalls attending a women’s leadership conference and meeting a woman who worked in sports PR. It was after meeting that person that Williams knew she wanted to pursue PR in college.
Arriving as a first year at Temple, Williams didn’t know exactly what section within PR she wanted to focus on, but she was sure of wanting to become involved with the PINK Campus Reps program at Temple University. This is something she would go on to do for the next three years. Her involvement in the program culminated in a dream internship offer as a campus and events marketing intern for PINK this past summer. Unfortunately, like so many other students, Williams was disappointed to hear soon after that her internship would be terminated due to COVID-19.
“They were so incredibly kind about [the termination],” said Williams. “They called us all personally afterwards, they sent us flowers, they absolutely went above and beyond.”
In response to this outpour of support from Victoria’s Secret/PINK, Williams decided to write an email back to her would-be internship supervisor. She wanted to go above and beyond as well and included a personal sketch of the supervisor.
This resulted in the supervisor reaching back out to Williams. She asked if Williams would be interested in designing some laptop stickers for the Campus Reps program. Williams agreed and before she knew it she had created brand graphics for PINK itself.
So what is the Campus Reps program? According to the organization’s website, PINK Campus
Reps was launched in 2008 to build a supportive and inspiring community for students and offer real-world experience working with PINK on campus. The program allows college students at over 100 college campuses to be “social media influencers” for PINK.
Williams’s LinkedIn post promoting her designs for PINK gained a lot of traction, reaching nearly 3,000 likes at the writing of this article. I asked her about her reaction to all of this newfound attention after a seemingly simple post. For her, it was yet another reflection of kindness from people in her industry.
“It goes to show that kindness really takes you far,” she said. “If I never sent that doodle to my boss, I may have never been able to make the designs in the first place.”
Riding on the waves of her new graphic design success, I had to ask Williams about her personal brand. Her website portrays a unique and fun emerging professional that simply doesn’t look like a lot of people in this space. What makes the personal brand of Haley Elizabeth Williams unique?
“When I first started at Temple, a professor told me ‘if you want to succeed in PR, and you want to be taken seriously, then you can’t be a girly girl, you can’t have a pink resume.’ I have come to strongly disagree with that and I took that to heart. I feel like I’m no longer afraid to be my full vibrant and glittery self now. I don’t feel this pressure to fit myself into a corporate/marketing box,” said Williams.
Williams certainly has leveraged personal branding to get her to where she is today. To finish up our conversation, I asked Williams what advice she would give to students starting out their college journey. Her biggest piece of advice: put yourself out there.
“If you go in with kindness and network and introduce yourself to people you never know what kind of opportunities are going to open up for you,” said Williams. “Nothing is owed to you at the end of the day, so don’t hold yourself back!”
Zach Ferenchak, 2020–2021 vice president of brand engagement, is a senior at Capital University, a private university in Columbus, Ohio. He is majoring in emerging media with an emphasis in public relations and minors in journalism and marketing. In his free time, Ferenchak can be found obsessing over the latest gadget or video game, exploring a coffee shop with friends, or going on a trail run. He hopes to elevate the voices of all PRSSA members through the organization’s various brand platforms. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.