PR professional and recent graduate urges students to build networks with professorsThursday, May 31, 2018 - 11:00am
by Samantha Biel, junior ADPR student
When Erin Lenz found out she had to organize an entire fundraiser on her own, it dawned on her that she was not in college anymore.
“I was terrified,” said Lenz, the development coordinator at The Friendship Home. “I was thrown right into a project where I had to call all the shots. Suddenly, I knew I was in the real world.”
Fortunately for Lenz, she has an arsenal of knowledge and a support system of faculty from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications that guided her through the first steps into her career.
Lenz graduated from the CoJMC in May 2017 with a job offer from The Friendship Home, which she obtained through her connections with CoJMC professors.
Lenz said public relations professor Phyllis Larsen pushed her to apply for the job. “She and the other professors that recommended me were instrumental to getting me that first interview.”
Now that Lenz has been out in the workforce for almost a year, she understands that her CoJMC classes are useful in every aspect of her job. Every day at work, Lenz writes news releases, organizes social media posts, prepares for her television appearances and coordinates public outreach efforts as well as completing other tasks she mastered in her classes.
“I feel very comfortable in the skills I learned in college,” Lenz said. “My job has reinforced my public relations knowledge while applying everything my professors taught me.”
Lenz’s first big test came when she organized one of the many large fundraisers The Friendship Home hosts throughout the year. In order to meet her fundraising goals, Lenz had to organize meetings with sponsors, recruit volunteer teams and do everything in her power to raise awareness for The Friendship Home.
Whenever she became overwhelmed by her job, Lenz reached out to her professors for advice.
Maintaining relationships with professors is the best choice an upperclassman can make, according to Lenz. Her professors helped her put her foot in the door for her first job and continue to support her when she is not sure what to do.
“Life after college can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be,” Lenz said. “Just breathe and trust your training. Our college will help you land on your feet.”