Sustaining a career in an ever-changing field

By Emilie Boenig
Media professionals spoke Monday to room full of students about the importance of internships, real world experience, and drive when sustaining a career in mass communication.
The panel titled “What Graduates Need: A Skill Set to Sustain Your Carrer” featured Autumn Phillips of the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, Jill Byrd of KGBTexas and Patti Kelly of State Farm Insurance of Texas. Combined the three panelists have about 25 years of experience in media.
Byrd said those seeking employment or currently working in public relations should remember to audience in mind, and also emphasized the importance of maintaining strong, personalized relationships with reporters.
“In the real world it’s not always about the news release,” Byrd said. “It’s about reaching out to a specific beat reporter.”
Kelly, a Texas State alum, said though she learned writing and real world skills from her public relations professors, no one could have explained exactly what working in the field would be like.
“It took me a while to learn how to be more strategic,” Kelly said. “If you think about the bigger picture, how it will affect the company down the road, or a client, you will be a more valuable employee.”
According to Kelly, being valuable is good, but staying valuable even after you’ve left a company is vital.
“Whichever way you go just remember not to burn bridges.”

Phillips, the only journalist on the panel, said when it comes to being a reporter, she most values the ability to conduct sincere research. She points out some college graduates who look for jobs at her paper don’t understand how to find raw data.
“The things they don’t know how to do are dig deeper to find documents,” Phillips said. “If you really want to get into (journalism), it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle.”
All of the panelists confessed to working, at times, upwards of 60 hours a week, and say the adrenaline that keeps them going.
“I love that no two days are the same and I love the people I work with,” Kelly said. “We’re all a lot a like in a lot of ways and I’m always learning. I like the pressure.”
The panel Monday touched on the importance social media and personal branding, understanding the company that is hiring, and also engaging in a competent interview.
“Tell me your strengths. You should know the answer to that,” Kelly said. “It’s about knowing what you bring to the table.”

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