Spring 2015 IssueWhat’s YourCJ Story?A publication of the Writing for Public Relationscourse at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Looking Back and Looking ForwardMy Thoughts on 36 Years in the CJ DepartmentWhen I began as a faculty member at UW-Eau Claire in 1979, there were nocomputers in classrooms, students took notes from lectures delivered via overheadtransparencies, and the only things “tweeting” were the birds in the trees that lined theChippewa River. Things have surely changed since then, and one thing I have lovedabout being here almost four decades is that the department of communication andjournalism has changed with the evolving times.This fall marks another key change in the department, as the Mass Communicationmajor transitions into Integrated Strategic Communication. While emphases in publicrelations and advertising will remain, these two tracks will converge in more placesthan they will be separate. This new integration will ensure that students with ISCdegrees have the combined skills in multimedia, advertising and public relations thatemployers are seeking in new employees.After teaching roughly 7,200 students, my story here is nearing completion - but thereare still a lot of stories waiting to be told. Our alumni are evidence that there are nobounds to the career paths a CJ major can take you. As you page through thispublication, it is hard not to be inspired by their stories and see the value that corecommunication skills continue to hold, even in this ever-changing society.Please enjoy these stories of ouralumni. We hope you will oneday share yours too.Terrence Chmielewski, Ph.D.ProfessorIntegrated Strategic CommunicationDo YOU have a CJ story you would like told?Want to be featured in the next issue?Contact Dr. Evan Perraultperrault@uwec.eduCommunicationJournalismCover Photo Credit: Abigail Franseen
Joshua HeppClass of 2011Regional Sales Executive, MidwestContiki VacationsChicago, ILCHICAGO - From the Czech Republic to Chicago, JoshuaHepp is going places, and it all started in Eau Claire. Sincegraduating from the public relations program at UW-EauClaire in 2011, Hepp has applied his degree all over theworld. He started out as an English teacher in his travelsabroad and then came back to the United States. He nowworks at Contiki Vacations, a company that promotestraveling and plans trips around the world for 18 to 35 yearolds. Hepp manages all local sales and marketing in theMidwest, enabling him to travel and test out many of thetrips his company organizes. Even though he now has ahome base, Hepp still experiences the adventure he craves.What made you choose a career in vacation planning?I have always had a passion for traveling, so it just kind ofhappened after going to UW-Eau Claire. I was in anorganization called AIESEC, which focuses on connectingyoung people to international internships. I did one ofthose internships in the CzechRepublic after I graduated,which made me fall in lovewith traveling. After that, Iworked with STA Travel for afew years, and then I happenedto fall into the job that Icurrently have.“There are some prettycool opportunities withmy job because I get toexperience a lot ofcultures and meet somereally unique peoplefrom all over the world,which is awesome.”What is the most excitingpart of your job?The most exciting part isdefinitely traveling. Forinstance, this summer I get togo on a few different trips. In May, I’m going on acamping trip from Paris to Rome. In June, I’m going toThailand, Cambodia and Laos for another trip, which I amreally looking forward to. And then in August, I get to goto Costa Rica. There are some pretty cool opportunitieswith my job because I get to experience a lot of culturesand meet some really unique people from all over theworld, which is awesome.Why did you choose to be a mass communicationmajor?I liked the versatility it gave me. I enjoyed the classes thatI was able to take, and I really liked the professors andpeople who were in the program, which, in my eyes, reallymakes or breaks a program. I was a business major for awhile, and I just didn’t like that there weren’t a lot ofhands-on experiences. With mass communication, I wasable to do a lot of hands-on work. I was able to put eventstogether for classes and work on some interesting portfoliopieces.How did UW-Eau Claire prepare you for your career?UW-Eau Claire pushed me to go off and try new things. Iwas active in student life and in different studentorganizations. I think the thought of stepping out of yourcomfort zone to try new things and gain new experienceshelped me get where I am today.How do you balance your work andyour personal life?Every week I am usually travelling forat least three to four days, so it can getdifficult to balance a work-liferelationship. I usually work fromhome two days a week, and then try togo out with friends and family on theweekends. Sometimes finding abalance is a real struggle because ofall of the traveling that I do for work,but I love what I do, and I wouldn’tchange it.What advice can you give to students?Make sure that you are versatile because there are a lot ofdifferent types of public relations that you may not thinkof, whether it is travel, hospitality or sports. Just make sureyou are open to whatever because anything that you decideto do is going to be a great learning experience in reachingyour dreams.Written By: Lindsay Baczkowskibaczkolt@uwec.edu
Jessica WittClass of 2009Marketing Specialist5Nines LLCMadison, WIMADISON - Jessica Witt graduated in 2009 with herdegree in mass communication, emphasizing in publicrelations. She originally hoped to work with a publicrelations agency, but soon found out the field was verycompetitive and not what she desired. She took a year tofind a job she wanted, selling time shares in the WisconsinDells to make money. From there she moved on to sellingadvertising and working for ESPN Madison. Finally, shefound the job she is currently at as the marketing specialistat 5Nines. 5Nines is a technology company based out ofMadison.How did the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire CJprogram prepare you for the world?The professors are really in tune with what is going on inthe world. When I was at UW-Eau Claire, Twitter was a newidea. My professors encouragedme to get a Twitter account tohelp me get ahead in my field.They forecasted that it wouldbe the next big thing. EauClaire does a really good job ofkeeping up with the currentchanges in the field this way.“Take a few businessclasses or classes of adifferent field. There arenot a whole lot of positionsthat are purely publicrelations, so companiesare looking for people withmultiple skill sets.”How long did it take you tofind a job after graduation?Well, I originally found a job insales, selling time shares in the Wisconsin Dells, but thatwas just a place-holder. I then moved on to work for ESPNMadison. To find a job in public relations it took me aboutthree years. I originally wanted to work for a publicrelations agency, but soon learned that if you didn’t havethe right connections it was nearly impossible. I then foundmy job at 5Nines and couldn’t be happier. It is verycompetitive in Madison in the public relations field and Iam thankful every day for the job I have.What is your favorite part about your job?The nice thing about working where I do is that I am theentire communications and marketing department, so I doeverything from press releases to social media. This isreally helpful because then I don’t have to coordinate witha bunch of people to make sure that all the messages arethe same. All of the messages come from me, so they arealways cut from the same cloth. I also get to see what ischanging in the technology world before the majority ofpeople do. It definitely was not a field I expected to workin. I expected to work at a public relations agency, but Ican’t imagine doing anything else. Every day is a newchallenge and brings a new adventure.Have you gone on to pursue any other education?I have taken some classes in Photoshop and social mediastrategy. A lot of companies don’t understand thedifference among public relations, advertising andmarketing professionals. They want this mythical personwho can do everything; that’s why it’s important todiversify and keep learning. The more you know, the morevaluable you become in the field, and the moreopportunities are open for you.Do you find it easy to balance yourpersonal and professional life?That is actually something that I amworking on. It is a constant struggleto find the right balance, because Ifeel like I always need to beinterconnected, and with this job thatis true to an extent. Every person inpublic relations should learn how tobalance that though, and it isdefinitely something I need to makeinto a priority. Some of my best ideasfor the company come to me when I am relaxing orhanging out with friends.What is the most important advice you could give apublic relations student?I would say that it is to keep learning. The more you candiversify, the more opportunities will be open to you.Especially with graphic design and Photoshop, those are afew fields I wish I had focused on more. Take a fewbusiness classes or classes of a different field. There arenot a whole lot of positions that are purely public relations,so companies are looking for people with multiple skillsets.Written By: Jennifer Bagleybagleyja@uwec.edu
Katie CyrusClass of 2008Account ExecutiveWisconsin Public RadioMilwaukee, WIMILWAUKEE – Katie Cyrus, a graduate with honorsfrom the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, earneda degree in mass communication with an emphasis inpublic relations. She also completed a minor inmarketing along with a certificate in advancedbusiness communication. Katie is currently anaccount executive at Wisconsin Public Radio, basedout of the Greater Milwaukee Area. She started hercareer at Wisconsin Public Radio while still in school,working as an intern, and is now responsible forsecuring financial support fromthe business community whileutilizing her management andmarketing expertise to continueto grow Wisconsin PublicRadio sponsorship.Why did you choose to studypublic relations?I had originally thought I wanted to be a journalist.The more I thought about it, I knew that I enjoyedwriting, yet wasn’t ready for the commitment ofdoing it every day. I had eventually heard aboutpublic relations and realized that could bridge the gap.Public relations professionals work with journalists,and do a lot of writing themselves, but don’tnecessarily do it every single day.How important are internships?It is because of an internship that I have my job today.I started at Wisconsin Public Radio as an internearning no money, only credits, as a student at UW-Eau Claire. When that ended, I continued to volunteerthere, which turned into a paid position the lastsemester of my senior year. Eventually I wasmanaging the interns. Without that internship, I wouldnot be a paid professional at Wisconsin Public Radio.Written By: Adam Bergmanbergmaad@uwec.edu“Work hard. Hard workand networking got meto where I am today.”How has studying public relations at UW-EauClaire helped to prepare you for your career?You don’t really realize that a lot of what you learnand do helps you in the real world once you’re out ofschool. The two things that stood out to me the mostwould be the public relations writing course, thatoffered me a hands-on leaning experience, andacquiring my certificate in advanced businesscommunication. It was learning the meticulous thingslike formatting and composing emails that translateddirectly to my position outsideof school.What part of your job do youfind most fulfilling?Working for public radio,everything we do, we do toeducate people. Simply tuningin to public radio everyday for six years they say isthe equivalent of earning a four-year degree. Thework we do at Wisconsin Public Radio helps people,and that makes it easy to go to work everyday.singleWhat is the next step for you in your career?I wish I knew. I have been here for about seven years,starting on the marketing side and then working as aproducer for some of our talk shows. Now I work inthe development department, so I have transitionedquite a bit within Wisconsin Public Radio. I don’tknow what is next, I really don’t, but everyday I ammore open to meeting new people and taking the nextopportunity life throws at me.What would you consider your Power of AND?After looking back at my college career, I realized Ihad learned so much about myself when meeting newpeople and creating friendships, so I would considermy Power of AND to be education AND friendship.
Shari LauClass of 2011Communications SpecialistUniversity of Wisconsin-Eau ClaireEau Claire, WIEAU CLAIRE – Shari Lau graduated from UW-EauClaire with degrees in Public Communication (2008)and Public Relations (2011). During her time with theuniversity she was involved as an academic apprentice.After graduating, Shari immediately found a jobworking in the public affairs department at Mayo ClinicHealth System in Eau Claire. She is currently workingas the communication specialist here at UW-Eau Claire.How did the communication and journalismdepartment prepare you for your future career?I feel the close relationships Ideveloped with faculty in thedepartment was huge inpreparing me for my career.Those relationships helped mehone my skills as well as myarea of interest and figuringout what specific career Iwanted to pursue. The worldof public relations is verybroad and having thoserelationships with facultyallowed me to find my niche of what I wanted to do andwhat my skills are. Once I found that niche, I was ableto grow and develop my skills that I use in my careertoday.“We have really greatfaculty at UW-Eau Claire.The faculty heregenuinely do care aboutyour success as astudent and successafter you graduate.”What was your favorite part of the communicationand journalism department?It was definitely the amount of opportunities availableto students. Students have access to a number of greatexperiences such as internships and research projects.One awesome experience I had with the department wasmy time as an academic apprentice. I actually did thattwice as an undergraduate. It allowed me to be a part ofthe curriculum planning process, which was verybeneficial in having that different perspective as astudent. It also helped me create such great relationshipswith my professors with whom I still am in contacttoday.Do you feel the CJ department gave you anadvantage when you began looking for jobs?Absolutely. The internships I experienced as a studenthelped me stand out from other job applicants. Oneinternship that I had an awesome experience with wasmy time at Mayo Clinic Health System in their publicaffairs department. I actually found this internship whena guest speaker visited one of my communicationclasses. The internship really showed me what I wantedto do. I wanted to write creative stories about people,and working for Mayo Clinic opened my eyes to thatopportunity.What did you do immediatelyafter graduation?After I graduated I was kept on atMayo Clinic for another year. Theycreated a job for me working ontheir website full-time. Once thatproject ended, I started working atUW-Eau Claire as acommunication specialist where Iam currently employed. At theuniversity, I write stories for the website, alumnimagazine and other publications. I really enjoy beingable to talk with students, faculty, staff andadministration about the cool experiences they have hadhere at UW-Eau Claire and sharing them with the world.Would you recommend the communication andjournalism department here at UW-Eau Claire to aprospective student?Yes. This is an awesome program. We have really greatfaculty at UW-Eau Claire. The faculty here genuinelydo care about your success as a student and success afteryou graduate. I would also encourage students to not beafraid to talk to their professors and get to know them.The relationships students build with faculty here iswhat makes this university so special.Written By: Brad Boldenowboldenbj@uwec.edu
Chelsey QuineClass of 2011Project Manager of FTLive TeamFinancial TimesNew York, NYNEW YORK – The day has arrived. Three months ofplanning have led to today’s conference. Chelsey Quine is theproject manager of the operations team for the FinancialTimes, a team that oversees the operations and logistics ofevents for the prestigious publication. Her team has scheduledthe venue, made sure the catering is up to par, and handledthe travel arrangements for today’s speaker. But the job’s notdone yet. The most critical part of Chelsey’s job is makingsure the event goes off without a hitch. It can be a dauntingtask, but it doesn’t deter Chelsey. She lives for this moment.What is your favorite part of your job?The day of an event, the feeling of seeing everything you’veworked on for months come together and be executedcorrectly. I also like problemsolving and thinking on my feet.If there is a problem at an event,I like coming up with a solution,whether it be simple or creative.“Don’t be afraid to dreambig. If you would have toldme while I was at Eau Clairethat I would be living andworking in Manhattan for amajor global publication, Iwouldn’t have believed you.”Was it challenging finding ajob after graduation?I graduated in May of 2011. Atfirst I went out to Las Vegas anddid celebrity news for about ayear until I came to New Yorkto work for the Financial Timesin August of 2012. I was fortunate to be in the right place atthe right time, and to have met the right person to point me inthe direction of this job. Networking was critical in that.However, I still applied to several places in Wisconsin, inVegas, and in New York. It’s important to do your researchwhen searching for a job, and it’s important to apply to a lotof them.How did a degree in mass communication prepare you foryour career?I knew that I wanted to do events, and that was my ultimategoal. I made sure my experiences at UW-Eau Claire, and withoutside volunteer organizations, were going to help me reachthat goal. I took an event planning class with Dr. MaryHoffman, which was a wonderful class. All the internships Ihad also had an event planning focus. I think that whatever itis you want to do, be it media relations or writing pressreleases, you can set your own path by choosing the rightinternships. UW-Eau Claire gave me the experience and skillsI needed so that I could be successful in opportunities outsideof the curriculum.What was your most memorable experience at UW-EauClaire?I had an internship with the Eau Claire Jazz Festival, and onething I did with them was planning the alumni reception. Ireally enjoyed seeing the alumni come back to Eau Claire andstill wanting to be so involved in something that was an EauClaire program. Eau Claire always has a little place in yourheart. I was also the Public Relations Director of the UW-EauClaire chapter of the Public Relations Student Society ofAmerica. Prior to going to school in Eau Claire, I workedwith a nonprofit called Threads of Hope. The organizationhelped raise money for poor children in the Philippines byselling bracelets the children made and sending the donationsback to them. I connected thatorganization with our chapter ofPRSSA, and it was hugely rewarding tobe able to work on something I was sopassionate about.What made you want to come toUW-Eau Claire?I started college at UW-Stout with amajor in fashion. However, I found outthat the degree wasn’t quite what Ithought it was, and that I wanted to dosomething different. I transferred toUW-Eau Claire and fell in love with the mass communicationand public relations degree.What advice do you have for future communicationstudents?Don’t be afraid to dream big. If you would have told mewhile I was at Eau Claire that I would be living and workingin Manhattan for a major global publication, I wouldn’t havebelieved you. It’s amazing to turn back and see where you’vecome from, and to see how all the work you’ve done hasgotten you to where you are. You can do it. It’s not that far,and it’s not that crazyWritten By: Nate Coopercoopernc@uwec.edu
Chelsea TimmersClass of 2008Store ManagerDSWEau Claire, WIEAU CLAIRE - Chelsea Timmers is originally fromIndependence, Wisconsin. She graduated in December,2008 from UW-Eau Claire with a degree in publicrelations. Before graduating Chelsea already secured a jobin public relations at Clear Channel in Eau Claire. She hassince moved-on, and is now the store manager for DSW.Chelsea does a lot of interacting with customers andemployees, and is in charge of scheduling, interviewingand hiring. She also travels once per week to differentcities to visit other stores and making sure things are runcorrectly.How do you feel UW-Eau Claire prepared you for yourcareer?I thought I was pretty well prepared for when I wasgoing out in the work force. I really enjoyed the last fewclasses that I took. I obtained lots of great informationfrom all the classes that wererequired for my major, but I feltthat I got the most usefulinformation from my capstoneclass. Due to these classes andthe great curriculum I felt veryprepared and ready to go outand find a job.“Make sure that you aregetting the most out ofyour classes. The morework that you put intoyour classes the moreyou will get out of yourclasses.”Is there anything you wishUW-Eau Claire would havetaught you beforegraduation?I wish I would have learned more along the lines of howbroad the major is. When I graduated I did not think therewere any jobs that I could find that pertained directly tomy major, but in reality there were a lot of options. I thinkthat it would have been beneficial to have people workingin PR in the community to come into the classroom andtalk more about the jobs that are out there. If they had donethis I think I would have been even more prepared to goout and find a job.How important are internships?I think that internships are very important, not only to goon your resume, but also so you can get a feel for what youwill be doing on a day-to-day basis. One of the mostimportant things to look for while looking for internshipsis that they pertain directly to your major, and what youwant to be doing after graduation. Some internships are noteverything they are cracked up to be. So not only havinginternships - but having good internships - will help you bemore prepared and confident when trying to find a job.How do you balance your work and your personal life?Balancing your work and your personal life can be easy ordifficult depending on the company that you work for.Some companies are good and understand that you do notwant to be at the office for 60 hours a week, but someexpect more out of you. The biggest thing would be todelegate certain tasks; make sure that you don’t takeeverything on yourself. If you know someone on yourteam has the time to do a task and you have a priorcommitment, then it is completely okay to let them handleit. Time management is very important to know. Giveyourself time to go where you need to be.What challenges have you faced sofar in your career?I haven’t had problems with a jobsearch, so I have been quite lucky inthat department. In my last job Ididn’t feel that I was challengedevery day and the skills that I hadwere not being put to work in theways that I would have liked them tobe. I felt that I needed to find a jobwhere I felt challenged and where Ifelt that I was making a difference. Iam now very happy with the job I have and feel that Imake a difference every day.Is there any advice that you would like to give tocurrent or future CJ majors.If I could give any advice it would be to really focus onyour classes. Make sure that you are getting the most outof your classes. The more work that you put into yourclasses the more you will get out of your classes. Give ityour all because you are only there for four years, and itmay seem that it is a lot of work, but in the end it is wellworth it. From my experience, the classes I put more intoare the ones I got more out of, especially the capstone.Written By: Abigail Franseenfranseaj@uwec.edu
Amy SchmidtClass of 2009Member Services AssistantYMCA of the Fox CitiesAppleton, WIAPPLETON – During Amy Schmidt’s time at UW-EauClaire she explored many classes, declared a major inPublic Relations, and accepted the fact that she still wasn’tsure what she wanted to do. Immediately after graduatingin 2009, Schmidt found herself looking for a full-time job.After applying and interviewing for many positions, shebegan working for the Fox Cities YMCA as their MemberServices Assistant. She now enjoys helping individualsand families afford memberships through theirMembership for All program.How did UW-Eau Claire and the CJ program prepareyou for your career?UW-Eau Claire gives students the opportunity to take allsorts of classes. I took a variety of classes in departmentsthat interested me. The CJ program provides a greatfoundation for writing, and ithelps students understand whatis going on in the world aroundthem. It also gives students agreat outlook on what to expectin the work force.“Don’t feel pressured totake the first job offeryou get if you don’t thinkyou’ll be happy doing it.You have to enjoy thework you are doing 40hours a week.”What did you do immediatelyafter graduation?Right after I graduated, Imoved back home and workedpart-time at the AppletonYMCA. I began job searchingand looking for something more permanent. A familyfriend offered me an unpaid internship at a local foodpantry. They later offered me a full-time position as theAdministrative Assistant. I worked at St. Joseph FoodPantry for about a year, while still working part-time at theY. The Y offered me a full-time position as the MemberServices Assistant, and I’ve been full-time at the Y forabout two-and-a-half years now.Written By: Lindsey Greengreenll@uwec.eduHow hard was it to find a job after graduation?Having a part-time job and living at home after I graduatedwas helpful. That eliminated some stress. I was lookingpretty hard for a full-time job, and it was kind of tough atfirst. I applied and interviewed for many positions, and Iwas open to where I ended up. I kind of wanted to stay inWisconsin or Minnesota, but I was open to where I wantedto be and what I ended up doing. Then I was offered theMember Services Assistant position at the Y.What’s been the most exciting/interesting part of yourjob?I love being able to work with different people withdifferent backgrounds. The Y is a great place to work. Wehave a “Membership for All” program that providesscholarship assistance for YMCA memberships. It is veryrewarding to work with these familiesthat can’t normally afford memberships.We make it happen for them.What do you know now that you wishyou would have known when youwere in school?You may not end up in the career youthought you would end up in. Be opento what you are looking for. Also takeadvantage of all the internships that areavailable in college. They provide anexcellent opportunity to learn valuableskills that may set you apart from other job applicants. Ifyou know what you’d like to do after college, try to findinternships in a related field.What is the most important advice you can give tosomeone looking to start a career?Don't feel pressured to take the first job offer you get ifyou don't think you'll be happy doing it. You have to enjoythe work you are doing 40 hours a week or your lifeoutside of work will be miserable as well. Also, don't takea job just because it pays well. Money won't buy youhappiness. I don't make a ton of money working for a nonprofit,but I enjoy going to work every day, and to methat's more important.
Amanda HornickClass of 2010Catalog ManagerMason CompaniesChippewa Falls, WICHIPPEWA FALLS – Not too far down the road fromEau Claire you will find a UW-Eau Claire alumna who isworking hard and loving her life. Amanda Hornickgraduated from UW-Eau Claire with a degree in masscommunication. She is currently the catalog manager forMason Companies. Hornick works together with a groupof co-workers from HR to ensure that everyone is workingtogether to reach one goal. She credits UW-Eau Claire asbeing a large factor is getting her where she is today.What has been the most exciting/interesting part ofyour job?I would just say the variation that I get to be involved witheveryday. No day is the same, and that is okay with me. Ilove the fact that I get to work with everyone. I am notworking with the same people every day. I get to talk witheveryone and have a lot of different responsibilities. Thatmakes it fun and interesting. It’s not repetitive work. Itkeeps me on my toes and makes for an enjoyable day.How did your communication major prepare you foryour career?I felt that I chose a well-rounded major. In the program Iwas able to obtain a variety of skills from public speaking,to writing, to other skills that I have been able to usethroughout my life. The professors at UW-Eau Clairewere extremely helpful during my time there. To me, thatwas important. The advice they gave was really applicableto everyday life. Although I came in undecided, I quicklychose the mass communication major during my freshmanyear after only taking a few communication classes.Where did you see yourselfafter graduation?I saw myself moving away,possibly to a warmer climate.Then, after I quickly realized Ihad no money I moved homefor about a year where I workedto save money. Then, before Iknew it, I found the job atMason Companies and am nowback in the area.“Try to take the adviceprofessors give you toheart. They want you tosucceed and they arethere and willing to helpyou.”What exactly do you do as a catalog manager?As the catalog manager I do a little bit of everything; fromtaking care of the budget for the company, to making thefinalizing decisions for the overall magazine for thecompany, to looking over the website and making changeson the website. The most important part of my job isensuring that we are all on the same page, and that we allhave the same goal in mind. Being able to be a strongcommunicator is key with this career.Where do you see yourself in five years?That’s hard to say, but honestly I hope that I am stillworking for Mason Companies. I have only been here for ayear, so I hope that in five years I am still here. Right nowI do have a lot of different things to take care of, but downthe road I would love to see myself taking on biggerchallenges and just to have more responsibility. Also withthat I want to try and move up from the position that I amin right now, only to grow as a person and really to justexperience different positions for this company.If you could give any advice toincoming freshman students, whatwould it be?Try to take the advice professors giveyou to heart. They want you tosucceed and they are there andwilling to help you. Don’t be afraidto take it. Also, I would say to getinvolved. I think it took me untiljunior year to get involved with anygroups, and I wish that I would havebeen more involved. It was a greatway to meet people and to just expand your horizon in thethings that you are interested in.Written By: Larissa Jacksonjacksolm@uwec.edu
Ricki LoweClass of 2010Marketing and WebCoordinatorMill Haven FoodsNew Lisbon, WINEW LISBON – Ricki Lowe is living proof that nothaving a plan can sometimes be a good thing. When shegraduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claireshe didn’t have a distinct vision of where she wanted toend up in a professional career. But as fate would have it,her post-graduate experiences helped prepare her for hercurrent job at Mill Haven Foods (a dry food ingredientssupply company) as the marketing and web coordinator.Her day can involve anything from designing packagingfor products to maintaining seven different web accounts,including: three Facebook pages, two Twitter accounts, anInstagram and her sassy health blog(millhavenfoods.wordpress.com). Mostly, there is notypical day for her, but she loves every minute.Did you have a vision when you graduated?Honestly, I had no idea what I wanted to do after college. Ieven moved to Boulder, Colorado twice. I knew I likedvolleyball, basketball, and softball coaching 8 th -10 thgraders so I ended up doing that for a few years. I was thenlucky enough to be hired by Mill Haven Foods. It helpedthat I knew the owners personally from coaching theirdaughter. During my time at Mill Haven Foods, there’sbeen a launch of two new companies. One of these newcompanies is called “Silver Star Nutrition,” which I’ve hadto invest a lot of time and effort into but it’s somethingI’ve really enjoyed working on. My passion for thiscompany partially has to do with my love for fitness andmy detail-oriented personality.How did your communicationmajor at UW-Eau Claireprepare you for your career?I think communication enablesyou to have a generalknowledge of many skills. Itlays a good foundation for mostthings, which you can becomemore experienced with later. Alot of what I do professionally is marketing andadvertising, which I didn’t necessarily learn in aclassroom, but it provided me a good point of referencefrom which to learn. Another thing to consider isinternships, which are valuable to students because of thehands-on experience in the field. Throughout my career,I’ve learned marketing and advertising are completelyrelated to public relations; they’re very much intertwined.What’s surprised you about where you’ve ended up?I wouldn’t have thought my experiences after collegewould help me in my future, but they actually have. Forone, I’ve realized that through softball coaching I havebeen able to have a good rapport with my employers.Since I had moved to Boulder, Colorado and knew thearea, it was particularly helpful when we launched a newproduct there. All these experiences have dovetailed intomy current job.Written By: Catherine Jacobyjacobyca@uwec.edu“I like to put my wholeheart into things, towork hard and be able tolet my creative side comeout in my work as well.”What’s your favorite part of yourjob?Through this job I’ve been able tocreate and design, which gives me afeeling of great accomplishment. I’vebeen able to create logos for ourcompany and I also generate a lot ofcontent that goes online thatrepresents the whole company. Itmakes me feel as though I’ve made an impact. I like to putmy whole heart into things, to work hard and to be able tolet my creative side come out in my work as well. Howmany people get to go to work every day doing somethingthey absolutely love? My job has allowed me to grow innew skills and refine old ones, and I love that every day isdifferent.What is the most important advice you can give tosomeone working in your field?Be open to trying new things. Even though I obtained a PRdegree, I didn’t end up working the cookie cutter publicrelations job in the end. In the real world, you won’talways have the opportunity to follow instructions; it isabout taking initiative through independently learning newskills. A lot of success is just working really hard. When Iwas fresh out of college I wish someone would’ve told menot to worry so much about finding a job, because in theend, it’ll all work out.
Joanie FosterClass of 2008Sales RepresentativeGaggleBloomington, ILBLOOMINGTON, Ill – The Monday after graduatingfrom UW-Eau Claire with a public relations major and aminor in marketing, Joanie Foster immediately started hercareer at CNH Industrial in Chicago. As a part of aninternational project team, Joanie worked with people fromacross the globe to prepare the company for changes in itscomputer system. After working on a couple projects,Joanie left CNH Industrial in 2013 to start a career as asales representative selling communication software for atechnology startup called Gaggle. Working for a companythat has been rated as one of the best places to work,Joanie is thankful for the skills and connections she madein the public relations program at UW-Eau Claire.Was working in sales something you knew you wantedto do when you were at UW-Eau Claire?No, definitely not. Having a marketing minor, I gotexposed to a lot of classes in the business school. I took aprofessional selling class there, which was one of the bestclasses I ever took at UW-Eau Claire because it applies toeverything. Whether you know it or not, you’re alwaysselling yourself, or an idea, or a concept, and it’s a goodskill to have. That’s kind of where I see my current job.It’s important when you take a job that you take it for aspecific purpose, to learn a skill that can be transferable inthe future. I think everyone should be in sales at one pointin his or her career.How did a degree in public relations prepare you forthe professional world?What you don’t realize before you get into the work placeis that people are really bad at communicating. It’ssomething that was eyeopening to me. I figured mostpeople had general ideas onhow communication shouldwork, but I actually found thatthere is a lot ofmiscommunication that goeson. Simple things can lead tomisunderstandings. Having thebackground in publicrelations, or communicationand journalism in general,gives you a good base ofunderstanding how tocommunicate and how to do soprofessionally, which is helpfulin any industry.“Having the backgroundin public relations, orcommunication andjournalism in general,gives you a good base ofunderstanding how tocommunicate and how to doso professionally, which ishelpful in any industry.”What is the most exciting thingabout your current job?It’s crazy. It’s rated as one of the best companies to workfor. Our CEO is in Silicon Valley and comes to town andthrows parties, so the social aspect of the job is great. It’s ayoung company with a lot of people who are excited to beat work. It’s a really exciting culture to be a part of.What advice would you give to someone wanting to gointo sales?Find something you’re passionate about. It’s reallydifficult to sell something you don’t like or you don’tbelieve in. If it’s something thatyou’re passionate about, or somethingthat you enjoy selling, it makes thejob a hundred times easier.What do you know now you wishyou would have known when youwere in school?First, it’s cliché, but it truly helps tobuild connections and a networkwhile you’re in school. It’s so muchharder once you leave school. Peoplehave families and priorities, and noteveryone goes to happy hour. I stilltalk to several people I was in thepublic relations program with. I wouldnot hesitate to contact them if I was looking for a job orneeded to ask advice. Second, when you’re looking foryour first job, the job title or description means nothing.Find a company or industry that you’re interested in andgo after a job there. Make sure it’s a good fit for you andthat you get along with the people. Most importantly,make sure you learn something that you can take with you.Written by: Rebecca Jewelljewellrm@uwec.edu
Tessa KriegerClass of 2008Merchandise PlanningManagerTarget CorporationMinneapolis, MNMINNEAPOLIS - When Tessa Krieger graduated fromUW-Eau Claire in 2008, she had no idea that her degree inpublic relations would lead her into a career in retail, butshe is very happy that it did. Tessa worked several jobsimmediately after graduation, before finding the career shenow loves as a Merchandise Planning Manager for theTarget Corporation. Tessa loves many elements of herwork, but the highlight for her is leading and teachingothers. When not working, Tessa enjoys spending time inthe Twin Cities with her husband.What have you found is the most exciting part of yourjob at Target?Everything is exciting. Managing a merchandising team iskind of like running my own small business within a largebusiness. My team runs the entire active wear section ofTarget. I get to make a lot of big decisions that impact theway people shop at our stores. I love that I also get todevelop people. I have 10 analysts on my team right now,who are all in their early twenties, and I really get to helpthem become successful leaders.How did you feel that the PR program prepared youfor your career?I learned to work really hard. The program taught me that Icould be successful not only in my course work, but in mycareer. My professors andadvisers were really supportive,and helped me reach my goals.“I learned how to workreally hard. That is whathas made me successful.You just don’t give upand you keep pushingforward.”What did you do immediatelyafter graduation?It was a really tough economyin 2008. I knew it would bereally difficult to get a job, so Iapplied to hundreds. Again, Ihad learned how to work reallyhard; that is what has made me successful. You just don’tgive up and you keep pushing forward. I thought about myeducation, the things I had learned and how I could applythem. I broadened my horizons and finally found a jobdoing part time PR for a chiropractor’s office. I had fiveother jobs between then, and finding the career I love somuch with Target.What advice would you like to share with currentpublic relations students?You might end up doing something different than whatyou’re planning on. I know I didn’t think I would end uphere when I graduated. No matter what you do, I believe acommunications degree is always going to set you up forsuccess. In any field, if you are able to communicateeffectively, people are going to respect you.How do you balance work and your personal life?I think it’s tough for anybody who loves their job as muchas I do to have a strong balance. One thing that I havelearned is that you have to give yourself enough time to bethe best person you can be at work.When you love your job you couldspend every waking moment at work,because you’re curious. But, at somepoint you have to shut things downso you can give the next day your all.Balancing work and your personallife is a learned skill, and is differentfor everyone. Once you find yournecessary balance, you have to stickto it.What advice would you give to a student who wouldlike to pursue a career in your field?The best advice is to work hard; that’s clear. It is importantto be genuine. You have to be true to yourself to besuccessful in any field. People will respect you more if youwork to your unique skill set and be yourself. A companyhires you for you. Don’t just tell people what they want tohear. If you spend your career working to be somethingother than who you are, you will be very tired and yourcareer will be very long. With that said, you have to havefun. I have a ton of fun at work, I love the people I workwith, and that is what makes my career so rewarding.Written By: Josh JohnsonJohnsjo@uwec.edu
Taylor SchultClass of 2008Assistant EngagementDirectorMarquette UniversityMilwaukee, WIMILWAUKEE – Entering the job market in December isalways difficult, but that didn’t scare Taylor Schult. Afterher graduation in 2008, Taylor packed up her bags andmoved to Milwaukee without a job awaiting her arrival.Through temp work and interviewing for entry-levelpositions against public relations professionals of tenyears, Taylor finally landed her first full-time job in Marchat Marquette University as an office associate. Throughouther time at Marquette her job position has changed andnow she primarily works with fundraising and volunteermanagement through events such as their reunion program,where they raise millions of dollars for the university eachyear.How did the UW-Eau Claire CJ department prepareyou for your career?The liberal arts education, and the fact that we wererequired to take classes beyond public relations, reallyhelped me. My role at Marquette is very diverse. I do a lotof fundraising, volunteermanagement, writing and someevent work, so a good amountof the things I do require skillsI acquired outside of the CJdepartment.“I had a very narrow viewof what public relationswas. I thought it was onlyworking for a PR firm andwriting press releases,but there is so much moreto it than that.”What is the most excitingaspect of your job?I love everything about my job,because it is somethingdifferent every single day. Ihave been able to travel and host alumni events around thecountry and I have traveled with the basketball team. Twoyears ago Marquette went to the Elite Eight and I got to dothe whole post-season run.What do you know now that you wish you knew whenyou were in school?I wish I had taken advantage of broadening myexperiences when in college, such as doing a different kindof internship with a nonprofit organization or exploringother courses. If I had known I wanted to be in a nonprofitcareer, I would have really taken advantage of that duringmy senior year and would have applied for more jobs inthat field.What motivates you to continue at your job everyday?There are two things: the people I work with andnonprofits in general. I work with incredible people andhave such great mentors, managers and coworkers whohave really supported me. I have quickly been given theopportunity to take ownership of projects and have myvoice be heard. Before this job I only worked forcorporate, for-profit companies, and when I go to work atMarquette I know at the end of the day I can go home andknow I might have made a difference for someone else’slife today.When did you feel ready to enter the job market?I don’t know if I felt prepared until I got here, and eventhen it took a week or two. I really loved my experience atUW-Eau Claire, but I was still scared entering the jobmarket. I realized very quickly, however, that UW-EauClaire prepared me very well for the work force. Thecourses I had taken, the professors I had, and some of theon-campus work I had really preparedme for things I didn’t even realize. Sowhen I started working, it wasn’t soforeign because I was like, “Hey, I’vedone this before; I’ve had theseexperiences.”What advice do you have for futureor current CJ students?The biggest thing is to keep youroptions open. No matter whatindustry you are going into, having abackground in communication is essential. When Igraduated I was convinced I was going to work at a PRfirm, do writing, and that would be my full time job. Iinterviewed with several PR firms and didn’t feel asexcited as I did when I interviewed with Marquette. I had avery narrow view of what public relations was. I thought itwas only working for a PR firm and writing press releases,but there is so much more to it than that.Written By: Casie Kamphkamphcm@uwec.edu
Britni WelshClass of 2011Corporate Events DirectorAmerican Heart AssociationMadison, WIMADISON – During her time at UW-Eau Claire, BritniWelsh studied public relations, advertising and appliedcommunication. Before graduating in 2011, she expandedon her classroom knowledge through many differentinternship positions in vastly different fields, includingsports, politics and insurance. After graduating, Welshrevisited the political world before finding her home innonprofit organizations. She currently works with theAmerican Heart Association and the American StrokeAssociation where she is the corporate events director. Shehandles several different tasks each day including sales,fundraising, execution of events and volunteermanagement.What would you say to a student who is considering adegree in public relations?It was interesting for me because I really didn’t know thecareer path I was going to have once I graduated. I alwaysassumed I would stay in thepolitical field, and that was myplan. But I quickly found outthat I needed to be open todifferent things. There are somany possibilities, positions,and jobs to explore.“People are really willingto help out, so never beafraid to ask forhelp or guidance orpotential opportunities.It can really help you outin the end.”Is there anything you wouldhave liked to know while youwere still in school?I guess there’s nothing specificI would have wanted to know. Ithink so much of figuring it all out comes from beingoutside of your schooling. So, I would say just knowing toalways being open to learning new things is somethingthat’s really important.What skills did you learn in your CJ classes that mostprepared you for the position you have now?I would say any projects that related to presentations orpublic speaking helped the most. I do some form of thatevery day, whether it’s one-on-one with clients or for alarge group. So, I definitely think everything I did incollege where I had to present to groups was the mosthelpful to me.What other jobs have you had since your graduated?My first position out of college was at a lobbying firm inMadison, Stenger Government Relations, LLC, where Iwas a client communications coordinator. There I workedwith legislative liaisons to pass their legislation. After that,I moved out to Denver, Colorado where I was an eventdirector for a national race that benefitted people withleukemia and lymphoma.What classes did you take at UW-Eau Claire that mostprepared you for your career?I would say some of my sociology classes were the mostinteresting. A lot of what I’ve done and what I do now isreally about relationship building. So, having that insightinto people and the way they are is really beneficial. And,of course, most of the journalism classes helped me honemy skills in writing, which has been a huge benefit. Peoplehave more trust in you if you can write well.What advice would you give to asoon-to-be public relationsgraduate?I would say that the biggest thing thathas been a benefit to me since collegehas been that I’m never afraid to askpeople things. I think that almostevery single job I’ve gotten has beenthrough connections. Just askingpeople what jobs are open, or howcan I do this can really make adifference. People are really willingto help out, so never be afraid to ask for help or guidanceor potential opportunities. It can really help you out in theend.Written By: Kelsey Karnoppkarnopkl@uwec.edu
Tara MontgomeryClass of 2008Integrated Marketing ManagerUnitedHealthMinneapolis, MNMINNEAPOLIS – Tara graduated in December of 2008,cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in masscommunication-public relations and minor in marketing.Despite graduating in a recession, immediately aftergraduation Tara became a Marketing Manager for multipleGreen Mill restaurants in the greater Twin Cities area. Forthe past three-and-a-half-years Tara has worked forUnitedHealth where she is currently the IntegratedMarketing Manager.How did UW-Eau Claire prepare you for yourcareer?The university faculty taught me the importance of lookingat a wide range of topics from different perspectives.Learning how to think critically, ask probing questions,write and speak effectively, and collaborate in teamsettings are just a few of the skills UW-Eau Claireprepared me with for my future.Do you remember somespecific courses that preparedyou most for your career?Communication ResearchSeminar, Strategic EventPlanning, Professional Selling,Mass Media Law, and WritingCenter Theory and Practice havebeen extremely helpful throughoutmy career. My day-to-day workinvolves collaborating with mydata and analytics teams, so evenmy college statistics class hashelped me immensely professionally. There is not a singlecourse I have taken at UW-Eau Claire that hasn’tcontributed to my success today.How do you balance your work and personal life?Besides working a full time job at UnitedHealth, I alsoserve as a high school dance coach and try to maintain mypersonal life. It certainly can be challenging at times, but Itry to make sure I carve out time each day to devote to myown personal well-being. Learning how to “unplug” cansometimes be challenging – but an important step in anyprofessional’s life.“I would advise currentundergraduates to keepexploring and don’t limityour options. Theexperiences you engagein during your collegecareer ultimately helpshape who you becomeas a professional.”What has been the most exciting or interestingpart of your job?Healthcare is an ever-changing landscape, which posesinteresting marketing challenges and opportunities.Knowing that my team and I are directly impactingmillions of lives each day is extremely rewarding. Myworkplace is full of smart, collaborative individuals – it’sexciting to learn from them and creatively problem solvetogether. Each day is a new adventure and I feel incrediblyfortunate to be working for UnitedHealth.What do you know now that you wish you knewwhen you were still in school?Although I held an internship the summer before my lastsemester of college, I wish I had considered internshipopportunities earlier in my academic career. I wish Iengaged in more job shadowingexperiences with people in thefield I was interested in, askedmore well thought-out questions,and utilized in-person andelectronic networkingopportunities to my fullest.What is some advice you wantto give undergraduatecommunication majors today?I would also advise students tokeep exploring and not to limittheir options. The applicationprocess can be very competitive,but you never know what’s around the next corner. Icherish all of the internships and work experiences I havehad, volunteer opportunities I engaged in, and networkinggroups I was a part of. Even if it doesn’t directly correlatewith your major, the experiences you engage in duringyour college career ultimately help shape who you becomeas a professional.Written By: Jenna Kohlnhoferkohlnhja@uwec.edu
Andrea SchmidtClass of 2009Trust SpecialistSynovus Trust CompanyColumbus, GACOLUMBUS, Ga. – Fleeing from the chilly temperaturesof the Midwest, UW-Eau Claire graduate, Andrea Schmidthas established a warmer life in Columbus, Georgia.Schmidt moved to Georgia after getting married in 2011 toher husband, Eric. She found a job there, working forSynovus Trust Company. The happy couple now has a 10-month-old son together named Cayden. Schmidt‘s newbeginning after graduation has been just “peachy.”What made you choose public relations as a major?I was a journalism major up until the second semester ofmy sophomore year. I realized I didn’t want to dojournalism anymore, but I didn’t really know what else Iwanted to do. I picked public relations because I wouldstill be on-track for graduation. I had taken some classes inthe communication departmentalready that I enjoyed.What did you do right aftergraduation?I went back home and applied forjobs all summer. I started workingas the Unit MarketingCoordinator for Sodexo at theUniversity of Wisconsin-Parkside; I met my husband shortly after that. I knew rightaway we were going to get married and I would be movingaway because he was joining the army. I eventually endedup getting this job I currently hold, through a temp agency;it is really hard to get a job and live in a city where youdon’t know anyone.What is your job? What do you do on a daily basis?This is in no way a job in the field of public relations. Iwork for a bank called Synovus Trust Company. On adaily basis I work with the non-profit side of ourinstitutional trust business. We manage all things nonprofit.This includes various non-profit organizations,hospital organizations, educational institutions andreligious organizations - to name a few. We manage theirmoney and I work with their daily activities; if they needmoney taken out of, or deposited, into a trust account, Itake care of that. I work with donors who donate stock andI also do a little bit of fund accounting. I have an awesomejob. When I get done at 5 o’clock, I leave my work atwork.“Get an internship. Ifyou couldn’t get onewhile you were inschool, get one rightafter graduation.”How did UW-Eau Claire prepare you for a career?Although I am not currently working in public relations,UW-Eau Claire provided me with real-world skills and aprofessional background through classes such as the PRwriting class, speakers through PRSSA, variousopportunities for experience, and a full portfolio. PRSSAis the best thing ever. My chapter started a student firm,did PR for an event in town and did all of their pressreleases. Up until a trip to Minnesota to tour a couple ofPR firms, I was unsure of my major. That day I said,“Yeah, I definitely want to be a public relations major.”What has been the most exciting part of your job?I work with a scholarship foundation. There’s a golfscholarship for students whose parent, or themselves, workat a golf course that is PGAaffiliated. There are about eightstudents a year that get everythingpaid for: a laptop, tuition, food,and housing, everything theywould need for college. It’s acharitable program and I really likethat aspect. It’s great to be part ofsomething that means well.What is some advice for students who are graduatingor who currently attend UW-Eau Claire?Internships are really important. Get an internship. If youcouldn’t get one while you were in school, get one rightafter graduation. Make sure that before you graduate youmeet with your professors and ask if you can use them asreferences. Also, try to find opportunities to doinformational interviews. Find someone who is in the fieldyou want to work in and use them as a connection fornetworking. Don’t pass up the great opportunities you aregiven.Written By: Allison Mansonmansonae@uwec.edu
Abby RichardsClass of 2008Event Sales AssociateIndian Pond Country ClubKingston, MAKINGSTON, Mass. – Abby Richards graduated from theCJ department in 2008 and quickly began her journey tofind where her passions and career would meet. Afterworking under various job titles and achieving hermaster’s degree, Abby soon settled into her current job asan event sales associate, which she hopes will equip herwith the skills needed to eventually start her own eventplanning company.How has your education from UW-Eau Claire helpedyou navigate you career since graduation?Even though I am not directly using my public relationsdegree, I definitely use it ineveryday life communicatingwith people, being verydiplomatic in answeringquestions, and in my currentpositon in Event Sales. Oneinfluential class for me was myWriting for Public Relationsclass. I’ve tended to use skills Ilearned from this class in everycareer I’ve had so far. Theknowledge and skills I gainedfrom this class have always beenthe liaison that has guided me through my multiple careerssince graduation. It taught me how to be more technicalabout my writing, which is always a valued skill in anyjob.What has your journey since graduation looked like?After graduation, I moved to Roseville, Minnesota for twoyears and worked for the Roseville Visitors Associationpromoting hospitality. I was a sponge there, soaking up allthe knowledge and skills that I could surroundingmarketing, sales, and public relations. From there Icontinued my education and got my MBA in SouthCarolina. While in South Carolina, I worked for Old Navyas a manager. It didn’t seem like I would use the skillsfrom my education there, but I definitely did. It’s knowinghow to communicate with people and manage people.However, I’ve always had a love for event planning. I’m avery organized and plan-oriented person. That’s how I gotmy job that I have now, and I absolutely love it.Written By: Sarah Olejniczakolejnisa@uwec.edu“My biggest advice topeople is that you neverstop learning. You get yourfundamentals throughyour education but everyopportunity after that is achance to learn.”What are you doing now?As an Event Sales Associate at Indian Pond Country ClubI sell the space, help with food and beverage selection, andhelp the client plan their set up. I make sure thateverything goes the way the client wants them to go. Iwork mainly in weddings, but I also do a lot of social andcorporate events. I love the opportunity you get when itcomes to wedding planning. You really become a part ofsomeone’s family. One day I hope to branch out and startmy own event planning business. I want to be able toorganize everything from start to finish and work moreclosely with the clients.What do you value most fromyour time at UW-Eau Claire?I think the education I received atUW-Eau Claire was fantastic. I wasvery involved in a lot of differentthings on campus to help hone myskills in marketing and publicrelations. I worked as the marketingmanager for WUEC-FM and didmy service learning project withWisconsin Public Radio. Outside ofmy marketing and public relationsendeavors, I was the president of Phi Eta Sigma, thehonors society, and the Blugold Marching Band.What advice do you have for current and prospectivestudents at UW-Eau Claire?College is the time in your life to try as many things aspossible. Studying and work take a lot of time, but there isnever going to be another time in your life that you’regoing to be able to go out and get a taste for as manypossible things as you can. Just try to do as much as youcan without overloading yourself.What advice do you have for graduating students?My biggest advice to people is that you never stoplearning. You get your fundamentals through youreducation but every opportunity after that is a chance tolearn. I don’t know any of my friends who are actuallydoing what they went to school for. But the goal is to put100% into everything you do and try to learn. There are somany different things you will learn that carry into everyother career that you have along the way.
Eric LarsonClass of 2011Editor/ProducerMashableNew York, NYNEW YORK – Graduating from UW-Eau Claire with adegree in public relations, Larson was ready to put hisknowledge to the test by moving to New York City. Heknew that opportunities could come in unexpectedways, but he did not expect them to happen to him.Larson’s opportunity came on Twitter, where he saw aninternship posting for a media site called Mashable.After working as an intern there, Larson was promotedto editor and producer. As of late, he has chosen totravel down a different path by accepting a strategic andmanagement position at Facebook. He is excited to starthis new position and will continue to apply theknowledge that he gained while attending UW-EauClaire.What drew you to major in public relations?Originally, I thought I wanted to be a history teacher.However, after my freshman year, it occurred to me thatI should pursue a major that I am passionate about. Ialways had a love formagazines, which led me tothe public relations area. Icould have majored injournalism, but I knew thatpublic relations was closelyrelated to journalism andwould be more marketable.“One woman I met was asurvivor of the BostonMarathon bombings, whohad to get her legamputated. She taughtme about courage,strength, and kindness,ultimately reminding mewhy stories areimportant to share.”What is the most importantlesson you learned from theCJ department?I learned so much from beinga communication andjournalism student at UW-EauClaire. One of my most memorable times was the yearsI spent working for The Spectator. That opportunityallowed me to build-up my experience, as well as myprofessional portfolio to show to future employers. Ithelped me develop my writing and interviewing skills,which I now use in my current job.How did you transition from Eau Claire to a largecity like New York City?Looking back, I still cannot believe that I moved fromthe Midwest to New York City, but it was justsomething I needed to do. Sometimes in life you justneed to take chances with your career, otherwise, youmight regret not going after what you wanted. It mighthave been intimidating at the time, not knowing anyonein a strange new city, but it has helped me grow not onlyin my career, but also as a person.What has been the most interesting part of your job?The most interesting part of my job has been meetingpeople with amazing stories. One woman I met was asurvivor of the Boston Marathon bombings, who had toget her leg amputated. She taught me about courage,strength, and kindness, ultimately reminding me whystories are important to share. There are so manyfascinating people in the world, and I enjoy sharing theirlives with others.What is the most importantadvice you can give tocommunication and journalismstudents?By far, the most important advice Ican give is to focus on networking.Having connections can make orbreak your dream career. Youcannot be afraid to go after whatyou want by constantly talking topeople and forming relationships.What might seem like anunimportant acquaintance todaycould turn into a chance at your future career. Iconstantly try to make contacts and get to know as manypeople as I can, because I know that it could possiblyhelp me in the future if I am trying to find a new job orneed a source for a story.Written By: Emily Raaschraaschek@uwec.edu
Megan EvansClass of 2011Lease CoordinatorFoxboro Property ManagementEau Claire, WIEAU CLAIRE – From city-to-city, Megan Evans hasexperienced a broad range of communication experiencejust four short years after graduating from UW-Eau Claire.Evans grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, and decided on adegree in public relations in high school. Evans expandedher love for marketing, writing and communicationthroughout her college years, and became president of thePublic Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) herjunior year. She feels she has carried many valuable skillsfrom her years at the university to her journey through fourprofessional jobs, ultimatelylanding her back in the city ofher alma mater.“One of the best thingsabout public relations isyou don’t get pigeonholed.There are so manydifferent avenues, andyou can transfer yourskills in many ways.What was your favorite classassociated withcommunication in school?I enjoyed many classesassociated with publicrelations in school, butespecially Writing for PublicRelations with TerrenceChmielewski. The class gaveme the most skills that weretransferable to jobs and internships I had during school. Icould start to see my school experience translate into realworldexperience.What types of experiences have you had sincegraduation?After graduation, I moved to Madison to become arecruiter for a software company, and after three months, Idecided it wasn’t the life for me. I then moved back to myhometown and worked as a marketing assistant for anational hardscapes company for two years. I later movedback to Eau Claire for my husband’s job, worked as anintake specialist, and currently as a lease coordinator. Eventhough this may seem like a lot of different experiences,it’s been great. One of the best thingsabout public relations is you don’t getpigeon-holed. There are so manydifferent avenues, and you cantransfer your skills in many ways.What do you know now you wishyou would have known when youwere in school?I wish I had done more careerexploration to figure out what Iwanted to do. Still, there’s more tolife than finding a job. I wishsomeone would have told me not tocompare others’ accomplishments with my successes, andthat not everyone is going to find their dream job rightaway and that’s okay.What types of experiences during school helped youwith your jobs?During school, I was a student writer for the News Bureauand intern for the Department of Transportation (DOT) forthe northwest region of Wisconsin. As a student writer, Iwas able to write for the university’s home page andactually wrote over 100 stories. As an intern for the DOT,I was able to expand my skills in public relations writing,professional presentations, and through professionaltraining. The DOT especially opened my eyes to all of thedifferent aspects of public relations, from writing webcontent to working directly with the public doingcommunity relations. The different interactions within theclassroom serve as a great foundation in preparation forreal-world experience.What advice would you give someone entering yourfield of work?If you aren’t 100% sure of what you want to do, keepyourself open to opportunities that don’t necessarily matchthe public relations description. Try to have an idea ofwhat specific public relations aspect you are interested in,and get involved. I was one of the only freshmen whowould regularly attend PRSSA meetings, and by my junioryear I was president. It’s important to make connections,network with people in the field, and ultimately makeopportunities for yourself.Written By: Katie Schmitzschmikat@uwec.edu
Rachel SchultzClass of 2010Wish CoordinatorMake-A-Wish WisconsinWaukesha, WIWAUKESHA – When Rachel Schultz graduated from theUniversity of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a degree inpsychology and public relations she began the search tofind the career of her dreams. Her hunt began in Eau Claireand ended in Waukesha. Schultz accepted a job withMake-A-Wish Wisconsin as a Wish Coordinator in Marchof 2012 and has been with the organization ever since. It isSchultz’s job to help grant the unique wishes of childrenwho are suffering from a life threatening medicalcondition.What did you do after graduation?When I was in my senior year at UW-Eau Claire I had aninternship with Big Brothers Big Sisters and when Igraduated they offered me an opportunity to work for themfull time as a marketingcoordinator. After my timeat Big Brothers Big Sisters Imoved to a different part ofWisconsin and worked as aday care teacher for a bit.After that I packed up andmoved to Waukesha where Ilanded my job as a Make-A-Wish Coordinator.“The public relations trackreally helped set me up forthe future because theyprovided real lifechallenges with real worldclients.”How tough was finding ajob after graduation?It was pretty easy initially because I had established somepretty strong connections in Eau Claire. It really is allabout who you know. It became a bit stressful after I leftmy job in Eau Claire because I needed to re-establishconnections. Once I moved to Waukesha and started a jobhunt I spent about 4-6 months applying. After nearly 30applications I was offered my job at Make-A-Wish.What is your favorite part of your job?My favorite part of my job is being able to allocate fundsand set up cool experiences for children who are suffering.I feel like a fairy god mother because I am making wishescome true. Many feelings and emotions come with mywork and I like it because I get to connect with so manydifferent people.How do you balance your work life with your personallife?It’s really important to find that balance between yourwork and personal life, especially when you are raising afamily. I currently have the opportunity to work fromhome one day a week and I love it because I get to spendtime with my young son.What do you know now you wish youwould have known while in school?I think it’s important to understand thatnothing can prepare you for real lifework experience. School sets you up tosucceed, but once you enter theworkforce it’s up to you to utilize thoseskills to the best of your ability.What advice do you have for students?I would say the most important thing astudent can do while in school is network. Thoseconnections don’t only offer mentorship while in school,but they can also offer foot-in-the-door opportunities orconnect you to other professionals post-graduation. Iwould also suggest students take part in an internship andget involved with organizations on-campus. Not only dothey also offer great networking opportunities, but theyhelp give you real world experiences.How did UW-Eau Claire programs prepare you foryour career?The education I received at UW-Eau Claire really set meup for success. The public relations track really helped setme up for the future because they provided real lifechallenges with real world clients. UW-Eau Claire givesstudents a variety of transferable skills likecommunication, leadership, teamwork and so many more.Written By: Alysha Stoffelstoffeak@uwec.edu
Daniel CoughlinClass of 2011Financial AdvisorRoyal Credit UnionEau Claire, WIEAU CLAIRE – After graduating with a degree in masscommunication, with an emphasis in public relations,Daniel Coughlin fortunately landed an internship withSacred Heart Hospital. After completing that, as well asa long job search, he landed his current job as afinancial adviser at Royal Credit Union (RCU) in EauClaire.How do you believe UW-Eau Claire prepared youfor life after graduation?I was really pushed out of my comfort zone duringcollege. Being involved in extracurricular activities,such as wrestling, kept me disciplined and focused. Ifeel I am capable of doingthings on my own now and Iam not prepared to haveanything handed to me in life.The most important thing toknow is that the bigger therisk, the bigger theopportunity. Currently, as afinancial adviser at RCU, Iinteract daily with branch managers to collaborate oncustomers’ accounts and I feel that my communicationskills and ability to reason with people have vastlyimproved due to my background in public relations.“The most importantthing to know is that thebigger the risk, thebigger the opportunity.”What do you know now that you wish you hadknown during school?I wish I had applied myself more in several areas. Thisincludes utilizing forms of social media that I wasn’tfamiliar with in college and exploring the technologylabs in Hibbard to familiarize myself with programs thatare essential for any public relations graduate (e.g.InDesign, Photoshop). I feel this would have given memore leverage in my professional field.Written By: Emily Torgersontorgerer@uwec.eduHow hard was it to find a job after graduation?After graduation, I sent out about 25 job applicationswithin a month before I got an answer from RCU. Myadvice would be to not get discouraged because youcan’t expect to land the job of your dreams fresh out ofcollege. Every experience is a learning experience. Youshould always be keeping your portfolio current outsideof your job with freelance writing pieces so that whenopportunity knocks, you are ready.What has been the most exciting part of your job?Just last week, I was involved in a conference call withCharles Barkley from the NBA. To have a small-townguy like me be able to sit in on acall with Barkley, I think that ispretty amazing. Also, I really lovethe freelance work that I do outsideof my normal office hours. I startedmy own professional website and Ienjoy helping people promote andmarket themselves.In your opinion, is the public relations job marketstable?I think that in any emerging field, there is an initial“boom” where it then taps out and reinvents itself.There is always a place for somebody in any field andyou just have to possess the determination andconfidence in yourself to never stop until you aresatisfied with your life. I would say that the current jobmarket for public relations graduates is alive and well.What advice can you give any upcoming graduate ofthe public relations field?The biggest advice I can give any person looking to landa job in the public relations field is to get as manyinternships as you can. They look excellent on yourresume and show that you can apply what you havelearned in the classroom to reality. I would also have tosay that perseverance is key. Always continue to applyyourself and move up on the career ladder.
Emily FiedlerClass of 2010Senior Project ManagerLumiMinneapolis, MNMINNEAPOLIS – After graduating from UW-Eau Clairewith a mass communication degree with a public relationsemphasis, Emily Fiedler spent a year and a halfwaitressing and working at Lifetime Fitness. She thenmoved to Pittsburgh where she worked at FedEx for fivemonths. She is now living in the Twin Cities where she hasbeen working at Lumi for three years as a Senior ProjectManager. Emily works in the Meetings and Eventsdivision of Lumi, working with mobile applicationsfocused on audience engagement.How did UW-Eau Claire prepare you for your career?I had a fantastic junior year. I was really interested in eventplanning and I was a part of the first ever event planningclass at UW-Eau Claire where there were 25 girls and onlyone boy. After taking the classit was something I saw myselfdoing. I joined the EventServices production crew andthere we helped with eventsthat were on campus. I was alsopresident of the UniversityActivities Commission. I wasalso on the Board of Directorsfor Student Senate. I joinedclubs and was involved.“Make sure you walkout of the universitywith gaining more thanjust a GPA. You do nothave to know exactlywhat you want to dowith your life.”Was it tough to find a job?It was not too difficult to find ajob. I jumped right back into waitressing as soon as Igraduated college. LinkedIn is a very helpful resource touse when you need to find a job. There are companiesalways looking to hire people and it can make the job huntmuch easier. I recommend applying to a lot of jobs and tohave a great cover letter and resume tailored to eachspecific job you are applying for. Do not be afraid to applyfor jobs you think you might not be able to get becauseyou never know what could happen by simply taking achance.What is the most interesting part of your job?I am challenged every single day. I enjoy the problemsolving work and working with a wide variety of people.There is a really good culture within my job.How do you balance work with your personal life?I work for a great company. I get to manage my own lifewhile I work very hard; we are mostly on call 24/7. It canget super busy. I work one day a week from home and fourat the office. Work can take over your life but you need tomake sure to find time for yourself. Good timemanagement is key to balancing work with your personallife. Prioritize the things you have to do to help yousucceedWhat did you wish you would have known while youwere going to school?I would have liked to have known as much about financialaid help as possible. I also wish I would have taken betteradvantage of scholarships the university has available.Also, the most important thing is tomake sure you walk out of theuniversity with gaining more than justa GPA.Did you enjoy UW-Eau Claire?I loved my time at UW-Eau Claire. Ispent four and a half years there. Mysister now attends UW-Eau Claire andI enjoy when I get to visit. I reallyenjoy the beauty Eau Claire has tooffer. The people there are wonderfuland it offers its own little area.What is the most important advice you can give tosomeone wanting to get into your field?You do not have to know exactly what you want to do withyour life. With a public relations degree there are manydifferent areas that you can pursue a career in. Takeadvantage of all the things the university has to offer. Talkto many different people on campus to get involvedbecause there is a lot happening on campus.Written By: Jack Trudeautrudeaj@uwec.edu
Sarah HansonClass of 2010Training Operations CoordinatorBest Buy Co., Inc.Minneapolis, MNMINNEAPOLIS - When Sarah Hanson graduated in2010 with a degree in public relations she had no ideahow valuable that degree would be. After graduation shewent down to Arizona and took some time to relaxwhile working as a waitress and applying for jobs. Notlong after, she received a position as an eventcoordinator for a REALTOR® Association. Sarah hassince relocated back to the Twin Cities, and is currentlythe training operations coordinator for Best Buy.How did UW-Eau Claire prepare you for yourcareer?Starting off as an event coordinator and then moving tomy current position as a training coordinator, I findmyself consistently using the skills that I learned as apublic relations student to be successful. Thecommunication and journalism department gave me theskills to write, work and speak efficiently. Professorsand advisers gave me the tools and helped me build myresume and interviewingskills“The great thing about acommunications degreeis that it leaves so manydoors open foropportunities.”What did you immediatelydo after graduation?After graduation I moveddown to Arizona. After afew months I received aposition at a REALTOR®Association. I wasresponsible for planning charity events, communityoutreach events, and mixers for REALTOR® and theiraffiliates.What are you most excited about in your positionright now?Currently I am working on developing trainingschedules for the entire corporate campus. This requiresme to develop training plans for different departmentssuch as the IT, finance and marketing departments.How do you balance your career and your personallife?You have you take your personal life and make it themost important. You will never do well in your career ifyou are not happy in your personal life. Even my bossesagree that having a healthy personal life is important.What do you know now that you wish you wouldhave known during your time at UW-Eau Claire?I wish I would have known how transferable the skills Iwas learning were to a career path. Courses such asWriting for Public Relations gave me the skills toproperly write for any given situation. All of the skillsthat I learned as a student I have used in my career.What is the best advice you could give a studentwanting to get into your field?Be patient, yet stay excited. The great thing about acommunications degree is that it leaves so many doorsopen for opportunities. Within thefive years that I have graduated fromUW-Eau Claire I have had theopportunity of being employed in twovery different industries. Startbuilding a portfolio of work that youhave done in your college courses.Preparing a portfolio has helped meland positions that required three tofive years of experience.What do you suggest for students entering the jobmarket?You will send out many resumes, get many interviewsand still not receive some positions. You may eveninterview for jobs that you think you are over-qualifiedfor and still not get them. I suggest bringing a portfoliothat shows the work that you have done and how youare capable of contributing to the company.Written By: McKenzy Wagnerwagnermm@uwec.edu