It's my pleasure to announce that Jennifer Spivak, currently a student at City College of New York, will be serving as our first Solo PR Community Assistant. Those of you who attended the Solo PR meetup in D.C. during the PRSA Conference last October will certainly remember Jennifer — she heard about our gathering and took the initiative to leave the PRSSA meetings to come see us!
Building on this track record, I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that Jennifer contacted me directly to see if she could intern with Solo PR. Much of what she does will be behind the scenes, but you may see her participating in our various online vehicles. To get to know her better, I thought you'd enjoy hearing, in her own words, why she's so interested in the Solo PR approach:
I've known for quite some time now that my lifelong career will be in the Public Relations field, but since making this decision, the way I envision it all playing out has been altered more than a few times. Before knowing much about my chosen career path, I was sure beyond belief that I would end up doing entertainment PR, and living a life quite similar to the ones I saw on shows such as PR Girls. Once I began my PR coursework at The City College of New York, it took a matter of days for me to realize that the “fabulous” life of a celebrity publicist – or at least how I saw it on TV – was not where I belonged.
Once the reality of all this hit me, I went into PR overdrive, insistent on figuring out the kind of work I truly wanted to be doing in the future. I met with professors and advisers, attended meetups and professional networking events, managed to land three internships in a matter of weeks, and joined my university's PRSSA chapter. I worked myself to death almost, taking advantage of any and all opportunities that were thrown my way, and a year later, I had my answer.
I decided to make all my career moves from here on in the knowledge that I ultimately wanted to practice PR independently. This was in part due to what I saw my fellow classmates experiencing in their PR internships.
While I was engaging in hands-on PR and marketing tasks for the small businesses I was interning with, I found that many of my classmates, having landed internships at the big name firms in NYC, were spending most of their time being little fish in a big pond. While I was writing year-long marketing plans for new businesses, they were looking up contacts in Cision and searching for media clips. Now, don't get me wrong – I'm hardly knocking these tasks, as they are essential to effective PR. But I recognized immediately that I didn't want to be an itty bitty part of a much larger project. If I have to do the menial stuff, I need a say in the big picture, too. Rather than going through the motions for ten years before becoming a senior-level member at a firm and only then being granted the project management role I desired, I decided that doing my own thing was a path much more suited for me. Take that, bureaucracy!
Though I haven't made a final decision on my immediate post-grad career move, I've learned through research and the incredible input I got from the amazing Solo PRs who attended October's meetup in DC that most independent practitioners work at an agency before going solo. Will this be my path? I honestly have no idea. Believe me when I say that if the opportunity to begin practicing independently or to start my own firm fresh out of a college presents itself, I won’t hesitate to take the universe up on it. And if it doesn’t, well, that’s ok too. The important thing, I think, is having the end goal in mind all along.
What advice would you give to an “early bloomer” like Jennifer? How can a new PR pro lay the groundwork early in their career for future solo success?