The Public Relations Student Society of America Drexel University Chapter hosted a panel May 8 at the Bossone Research Center with Drexel Alumni in the various industries of communication. The panel allowed students to hear about the impact communication can have in their respective work settings and how it contributed to their success after graduation.
The panel was moderated by senior Angela Hackett, the President of PRSSA. She gave the audience a challenge to solve a blank white puzzle with their surrounding peers to see how communication works in action and what it can create if executed well.
Panelists included Co-Founder and CTO of Vtiris, Cameron Spencer; Senior Communications Specialist of Penn Mutual Life Insurance company, Michelle Williamson; Social Media Strategist of Stream Companies, Steven Cereby; Human Resources Coordinator of Publicis Health Media, Sarah Robinson; and Director of Marketing and Business Development of Ververelli, Inc., Niki. A. Ververelli..
“When dealing with clients, it was weird, their brains work differently,” Williamson said. “Graduating from Drexel, you think you know much about how the workplace works…I had to figure out a way how to communicate with [clients]…I learned responsiveness.”
Michelle Williamson further elaborated on her lesson of responsiveness and how it got her to the position she currently holds; she told the audience that the lesson had been received and appreciated by her peers and clients alike. “People want you to ask questions, [they] want you to do well. I’m still learning that. Fortunately there is the co-op to learn that,” she said.
Robinson said her lesson outside the textbook knowledge was asking for and receiving performance management. There should be constructive criticism on how an employer wants to see the employee work to their best ability and not make generic observations. At the same time, the employee should communicate their want to do better without the fear of asking questions.
Additionally, Robinson discusses how her extra-curricular activities helped her present herself well in the workplace thanks to the various communication skills learned from the different degrees of formality. From teamwork communication to one-on-one, touching the field of communication slightly helped her today.
“I couldn’t figure out how people perceived me,” she commented. “That vulnerability helped me work on my communication skills to be a team player. Be open and honest, and it will translate personally and professionally.”
Panelist Steven Cereby also weighed in on how the classes taught at Drexel were helpful in improving the quality of his work, yet the communication with authority was something he wasn’t prepared for being in-class. “You have to get used to [them] coming down on you at times, and you just have to take it.” He elaborated more on how they communicate differently and how it’s not their intention to be harsh, but there must be things done to cooperate in the office.
The panel continued on with Ververelli. “I think what I least prepared for is when I asked for something and got it,” she stated. She briefly spoke on her experience of receiving a job she merely asked for during the recession in the struggling field of communication. It was a higher responsibility load and was closer with the authoritative figures in the company. “I flat out asked if I could work…just learning the life skills to dive in, to report to higher level administrators. That way, you don’t go back to your desk and ask ‘What am I doing now?’”.
The PRSSA Drexel Chapter hosts events regularly and strives for enhancing their knowledge on public relations and offering access to professional development opportunities. More information on the chapter can be found at their site at drexelprssa.wordpress.com.