On Thursday November 28th, IABC Ottawa teamed up with the Carleton Communications Undergraduate Student Society to provide students with valuable advice from some of Ottawa’s leading public relations professionals, in an event organized by Kayla Isabelle, Kristina Martin and Tina Barton (pictured above, left to right).
Kristine D’Arbelles, co-host and producer of Young PR Pros, and Public Affairs Manager at the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), started the evening’s presentations by discussing her transition into the professional world.
She explained that while her volunteer experiences landed her a job at the CAA, she also used her passion for social media and podcasting to create the now internationally-recognized podcast, “Young PR Pros”. Kristine emphasized that students should be offering their skillsets in a voluntary capacity to potential future employers, allowing them to use their own skills to get a foot in the door.
Alison Scarlett, leader of the Public Relations and Community Activation team at Giant Tiger, followed Kristine by emphasizing how integral passion has been throughout her career. Alison’s job as a PR professional constantly changes day to day, but her passion and enthusiasm remain a driving force behind her success and her ability to take on numerous roles (including dressing up in the Giant Tiger mascot costume from time to time).
Joe Boughner, Director of Marketing at Non-Linear Creations, and author of the “Naked Dad”, was the final presenter of the
evening, offering students a surprising perspective. His path into the working world was not planned, nor did it happen overnight. Joe suggested to students that not all volunteering has to be related to a finite career plan. Exploring different options and trying new things outside of his field along the way made the road to his career a bit more gradual, but has provided him with real-life experience that has been invaluable.
After the formal presentations, students mixed and mingled with the professionals to ask further questions about their experiences. While each professional offered a unique perspective, all three consistently emphasized the importance of relationship building, and showed how effective networking through genuine conversation can be.
For students moving forward in their careers as communications professionals, creating meaningful relationships with peers and professional colleagues is a vital component for success. Finding volunteer positions that offer new challenges provides students with experience and exposure that they won’t necessarily find in a classroom setting. Not every volunteer experience will land students stable jobs in the working world, but as various opportunities arise, having volunteer experience may be what sets you apart from the competition.
Written by Kayla Isabelle, fourth year Carleton Communications and Psychology Student, and IABC Ottawa Student Representative.