Written by Chelcie Gilliard.
Waking up before 10am, sitting and listening to multiple company information sessions, and going to bed before midnight isn’t exactly what most college students think of when you say “Spring Break”, but that’s exactly what I did. Myself, along with 18 other Michigan State University Spartans spent a week in New York City for advertising and public relations career exposure. Our visits were comprised of the top creative, digital and media marketing agencies in the country, including: Grey Group, Edelman, Cohn and Wolfe, Burson-Marstellar, Crossmedia, Development Counsellors International, and Optimedia; as well the in-house public relations teams at General Motors, Fresh Inc., Express, Hearst, the National Hockey League, and Yummie by Heather Thompson.
As a student with zero background in advertising or PR and the most basic knowledge of what those disciplines entailed, I wasn’t sure of what I was going to get from this experience. I left it to the professionals to sell me the wonderful world of public relations and advertising and they did not disappoint. Either public relations is really as fun and interesting as it was portrayed or these agencies are really good at their jobs. I learned a great deal about working in various divisions of public relations like social media, client and consumer relations, celebrity endorsements, and the more technical side of PR such as, data collection and analytics.
In my opinion, the most interesting part of our sessions was hearing the steps these young professionals took to have the careers they currently have. We all know the importance of networking and internships in the career search, but rarely do we hear that your degree isn’t a defining factor in the professional path you take. Good writing, communication, and critical thinking skills are just as important in PR. Seeing myself in the people we met during this trip and knowing that I could one day be in their position made this experience for me.
Coupled with being my introduction to the world of public relations, this was also my first time in New York City. In classic millennial fashion I tried my hardest to not be a tourist, but simultaneously take pictures of everything I did, ate, smelled, and breathed. My friends and I spent our first day in New York walking from our hotel on 24th to Times Square, which may not seem like a far walk, but when you’re from a city built more for cars than people, it seemed like forever. The walk did give me the time to see how beautiful the city is. New York City was exactly how I imagined it to be and yet not at all. Bustling, bright and busy in the crowded areas of Times Square and Chelsea, but also quiet, serene, and classically beautiful in Central Park and The Upper East Side. Every day the city revealed a new element of itself and every day I was more in awe of its greatness. I, like most of my peers, and most everyone in the world, fell in love with New York City and I’m already planning my next visit.