Career Advice from Industry Pros

This past semester, the University of Mississippi PRSSA hosted a Chapter meeting in conjunction with the IMC Connect! conference at the School of Journalism and New Media. Dr. Amanda Bradshaw, co-chair of IMC Connect!, stated that “The purpose of this event is to foster connections and collaborations among multiple stakeholders, including integrated marketing communications practitioners, academic researchers, faculty members, and students.”

Students met with representatives from Carnival Cruise Line, the Home Depot, KQ Communications, Chick-fil-a, FedEx, and more. Members were able to interact with the guests through a Q&A panel, which provided advice on how current students can best prepare to enter the industry after graduation.

Representatives from the panel include Dr. Timothy Coombs of Texas A&M University, Home Depot VP of Corporate Communications and External Affairs Steve Holmes, Dr. Rebecca Britt of the University of Alabama, Chick-fil-A VP of communications Reade Tidwell,  Carnival Cruise Line CCO Christ Chiames, and FedEx SVP Jenny Robertson. Between the six of them, they have years of industry experience and knowledge that they shared with the UM Chapter of PRSSA. 

It was too good not to share, so we’ve compiled their best career advice for emerging public relations professionals. 

  • Prioritization is the key to managing time and responsibilities in your career. 
  • Curiosity may have killed that cat, but it will be your golden ticket according to Dr. Timothy Coombs. Continuous curiosity is not only a key characteristic employers look for when hiring in the PR industry, but also integral to professional development. 
  • Chris Chiames emphasized the importance of having a well-rounded skill set. Students should focus on developing their writing skills, storytelling skills, relationship building, and ability to maintain the love of learning.
  • Your personal success should be defined by your own life, don’t define success by others around you, as Dr. Rebecca Britt reminded us. 
  • The idea of pursuing excellence before success was one Reade Tidwell encouraged students to consider.
  • Dr. Timothy Coombs advises to not limit yourself to your 9 to 5.  Don’t be afraid to invest your own time and money outside of work in something you are passionate about.

The panelists encouraged all of us to take control of our own careers and strive for success, whatever that looks like for each of us individually. We will not soon forget their wisdom, and we hope that you don’t either. How will you put their advice into practice?

Elle Muirhead is a senior at the University of Mississippi majoring in integrated marketing communications and print journalism with minors in general business and entrepreneurship. She is the current publicity chair for the UM PRSSA Chapter. She plans to attend law school after graduation.

Zoe Barnes is a senior integrated marketing communications major at the University of Mississippi, with a minor in general business. After graduating, she will attend law school at the University of Mississippi.

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