Category Archives: Speed Mentoring

Speed Mentoring March 7!


Looking for networking opportunities? EMU PRSSA will be hosting Speed Mentoring on Tuesday, March 7 at 6 p.m. in SC 320. Speed Mentoring is an event that allows students to network with a variety of local professionals in a short period of time. Each professional will sit at a table, and students will rotate around the room for a set amount of time, like speed dating.

Professionals attending are from public relations agencies and companies, such as Quicken Loans, Twitter, United Way and more!

Come prepared with questions and don’t forget to bring multiple copies of your resume! To register for the event, click here.


More beneficial than an A plus

By: Natalie Burns

Every year, EMU PRSSA hosts a Speed Mentoring event that is valuable to not only students interested in public relations, but also those who are intrigued by marketing, communications, business and entrepreneurship. This year, the event was welcoming and inviting, as professionals all across Michigan came to talk about their successful careers.

With 10 career-driven experts prepared to answer questions and discuss their jobs, students were eager and excited to learn more about what life is like in the real world. Each student engaged in discussions about the challenges, obstacles, and triumphs that each mentor faced as they began their career after college.

Every mentor had great insight into their responsibilities in their occupations, as well as what students can do to stay focused and prepare for a better future. With positive feedback and suggestions, there are multiple concepts that can be utilized to keep any prospering student focused and career-driven.

speed mentoring

Photo taken by Natalie Burns

  1. Building lasting relationships.

We all know that building a relationship with a client or business is essential to public relations. However, Jenni Placinta from SS Digital said that, “team building and the ability to interact with not only your clients, but the people you work with is the core to a successful and happy career.” As we learn more about the world of communications, we begin to understand that truly being a team player means leaving room for positive feedback, corrective criticism, and creativity.

  1. Making an impact.

Standing out and making an impression will allow an employer to pick you instead of the other candidate. Whether it’s a specific skill that sets you apart, or a bio that makes you unique, making an impact on an employer may be that turning point in your career. Andrea Bajaj, a college recruiter at Quicken Loans, discussed the importance of not only leaving a footprint for people to follow, but also how vital individuality can be: “Knowing how to write well is really important, along with many other things, but when it comes down to two candidates, what is the employer going to remember about you?”

  1. Networking

 Networking is key to finding connections after you graduate. The more involved you are while you’re in school, the better chance you will have of landing the job you really want. Sam Plymale, who is the development coordinator for the City of Plymouth, stated, “I am always about giving back what was offered to me. Really get involved in PRSSA and the activities that are offered by the school.” Plymale explained the importance to knowing others in your field as you end your career as a student. “Although getting an A is important, being involved with extracurricular activities, internships, and hands-on experience is much more beneficial.”

Natalie Burns is a senior pursuing her public relations major. She is the Chief Financial Officer of PRSSA. She has experience in both marketing and non-profit organizations. Connect with her via Twitter @burns_natalie and Instagram @natbsweetee. You can also check out her blog at


Connect the dots: connecting with your audience

By: JuWan Graham

Printing out copies of my resume I had one thought in my mind: “JuWan you’re late!” Speed walking to the Speed Mentoring event at the Student Center, I had to be punctual. Being late is in the top five on my pet peeve list, even when trying to be “fashionably late.” Anyways, as soon as I got to room 352, the chatter became an individualized battle for how much information could be presented in a four minute time frame. Sitting and waiting for my turn to talk with these successful professionals, one constant thought appeared in my head, “What am I going to say?” I knew what to say, but what do I say to these professionals who have heard every statement when hiring an intern or new employee? More specifically, what do I say to let them know I’m not a machine, but an actual human?

Now, I know you might be thinking, “Well JuWan, you are a human.” That’s true, I think, but a lot of potential candidates already have a mapped out response to every question, sounding like a pre-recorded robot. I needed to respond with creativity and ingenuity. I began talking with different professionals and one in particular stood out for me. Her name was Marisa Bradley. She was the manager for consumer and broadcast communications at Ford. She talked about how increasingly difficult it was to have such a big corporation have a human element, establishing a connection with its audience. She went on to talk about how technology and other factors influence branding, but that was something that stuck with me for the duration of the event.

For a brand, developing a connection with its audience is critical for success in public relations. How a company relates with its audience and how it develops unique characteristics in order to maintain a following is important in today’s changing landscape. Take for instance Burger King. It had a tweet that had a person doing the Internet crazed “dab” on a picture, while using a verse from a popular song. A better example would be Old Spice. It has a loyal following because of its over-the-top commercials and overall presence on the Internet. Here is a great example of what I’m talking about. The human element of being funny allows the company to develop a stronger connection with its audience. Things like posting funny messages or innocuous tweets can help with a brand’s overall message. Personally, an over-the-top video or post (i.e. Old Spice) is something that sticks with me.

Of course, there are examples at the opposite end of the spectrum with brands doing it the wrong way. For example, we can use Hillary Clinton. She appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show doing Internet crazed dance moves. For a lot of viewers, it felt as if she was trying too hard to establish a connection with her audience. It seemed as if she trying too hard to become one with the younger audience, and the Internet let her know about it. But establishing a human element that allows your audience to connect with your brand is an ever-more important aspect that brands are making a part of their public relations strategy.

As for the Speed Mentoring event, yes I ended up being late (by 10 minutes). But the professionals who came gave me great insight on what it takes to make it in public relations. One of the many things that I learned was to establish a connection with your audience. To me, it helped me in connecting the dots for what’s really important in public relations.

JuWan Graham is a guest blogger.



PRSSA plans Speed Mentoring to connect professionals and students

By: Katie Gerweck

Disclosure: Katie Gerweck is Editor-in-Chief on EMU PRSSA’s E-Board.

As students, it is drilled into our heads that in order to land a good job after college we need to not only have experience and a portfolio filled with writing samples, but also have connections in the professional world. According to the Strategic Business Network, “To succeed you must continually connect with new people, cultivate emerging relationships and leverage your network” (source).

However, even if students know they should be networking, it can difficult to find and reach out to professionals in the field. Fortunately, that’s where networking events like Speed Mentoring can help. The Eastern Michigan University (EMU) chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) hosts a Speed Mentoring event every year. According to EMU PRSSA faculty advisor Jamie Ward, “Speed mentoring is a wonderful opportunity for students to receive career advice from executive-level professionals from a variety of different industries.”

Although some students may have experienced the event this year, few know the work that went into planning it. Lauren Houck, the vice president of special events and programs for EMU PRSSA, said she started reaching out to potential mentors in December. According to Houck, she looked for potential mentors on LinkedIn and Twitter, searched public relations and marketing firms online, and reached out to some of her own mentors.


Lauren Houck planned the Speed Mentoring Event. Photo by: Katie Gerweck

Houck also got help from other members of EMU PRSSA. Houck discussed her progress at E-Board meetings, and several members stepped up to help, including Vice President of Professional Development Nikki Mikolon and President Andrea Mellendorf.

“Nikki had a few connections which led to two people from the communications department at Ford Motor Co. coming. Andrea helped by booking the room the previous semester and telling me how to structure the event,” Houck said.

Of course, anyone who has done event planning knows that things do not always go as planned. Houck said she had 12 mentors scheduled for this year’s event, but one mentor was a no-show and another was hospitalized the day of the event.

“I tried to get a diverse amount of mentors, and not just strictly those who work in PR…My political PR guy was hospitalized which was devastating,” Houck said.

In the end, however, it all seemed to work out. Ward said she was “pleased with the positive feedback PRSSA has received from the event,” and Houck was also happy with the way the event went.

“There was a great turnout and the mentors were all great. They all seemed impressed with our students and I think the students made some really great connections with professionals,” she said.

speed mentoring

Photo by: Katie Gerweck

Ultimately, the goal for EMU PRSSA is to see students make those important connections with professionals.

“I hope that students can form meaningful connections with professionals in the field or be motivated and inspired to find their place in public relations,” said Mellendorf.

For more networking opportunities, paid PRSSA members can go on agency tours. You can also find networking tips here.

Katie Gerweck is a senior majoring in public relations with a minor in journalism. She is the editor-in-chief for EMU PRSSA. She was the copy chief for the Eastern Echo during the summer of 2015.

Five resume tips from PR pros

By: Alyxandra Schmitt

  1. Buzzwords

Jenni Placinta, a social influencer for SS Digital Media, advised students to use attention-grabbing words (buzzwords) to grab readers’ attention. Most people hiring scan resumes looking for these buzzwords and some companies even utilize resume-scanning software. This link helps outline what buzzwords companies and software are looking for.

2. Be interesting.

Executive Director of Media Relations at Eastern Michigan University Geoff Larcom recommended students find something that sets them apart from others. Chances are many other applicants have joined a club, had a part-time job, or earned a degree. Larcom’s advice is to illustrate skills on your resume that set you apart, demonstrates character, and are memorable. “Be interesting…learn a language, know something, volunteer, travel, show something that will be memorable to the employer,” said Geoff.

speed mentoring A

Photo taken by: Alyxandra Schmitt

3. Internships and experience.

Chief Executive Officer of Pure Visibility Linda Girard stressed the importance of experience and internships. After these experiences be prepared to show what you produced and what you have done. Nothing shows your capabilities more than a full portfolio of work and a resume bursting with skills.  “Focus on your strengths, smile when working, and look at the positive,” Girard said.

4. Be concise.

Alan D. Hall, communication manager for Ford Motor Company, directed students to be brief with their resume. A resume should not exceed one page and information should be concise and easy to read. Hall said, “It should be like a tweet of your resume, be aggressive and always follow up with a thank you note. Your job is to go get them, it is up to you!” This link gives quick and easy tips to make your resume concise but still effective.


Attendees of Speed Mentoring. Photo taken by: Alyxandra Schmitt

5. Cover letter.

Coordinator for Downtown Development Authority of the City of Plymouth, Sam Plymale, recommended a professional cover letter to accompany any resume. A cover letter goes a step further to demonstrate skills and to show writing capabilities. Plymale said, “Have a cover letter that is well-written then have someone read and then re-read. Make the cover letter specific to the position applying, only one page, and highlight your skills.”

Alyxandra Schmitt is a guest blogger.

Tips for the graduating student

By: Rachel Dwornick



Recently I read an article titled “8 Fears I Have About Graduating College.” (To read the article click here!) All the things listed in the article were fears every college student has, but when thinking about public relations and what advice the mentors provided me at Speed Mentoring I realized I can make it through graduation. These 10 tips are pieces of advice I found to be most helpful with graduation right around the corner.

 1. “Every little job can lead to more.”

 Shelley from the Chelsea Wellness Center talked about the importance of making the most of our current and future jobs. She told us that even that part-time job can lead to more, or can give us experience for future jobs.

 2. “You learn if you are an agency or a corporate person quickly.”

I think this tip is very true and pretty self-explanatory, but it is important to note that you shouldn’t just write off a job at an agency or a corporation at first. It is important to experience both to find what you like. I really enjoyed this article about the differences between corporate and agency PR.

 3.“Writing samples are key!”

 Marisa Bradley, who is the consumer and broadcast communications manager for Ford, stressed the importance of writing samples. Bradley said to not just provide samples of press releases, but also provide samples of tweets, posts and infographics also.

 4.“Social is a big business.”

 Kelly LaVaute is the managing supervisor of social media for Chevrolet at Fleishman-Hillard. LaVaute focused a lot on social media and stressed that social media is growing and is a big business, so it is important to understand and know.

 5.“Relationships with media are still crucial.”

 While social media is big business, relationships with the media are still crucial. Bradley talked about the importance of keeping those relationships because as PR professionals we still need the media. I couldn’t agree more with Bradley. We must still keep or build those relationships with the media to be successful PR professionals.

6.“Don’t stay at one place.”

 Alan D. Hall, who is the communications manager of technology research and innovation for Ford, talked about his journey to become a PR practitioner and said that it is normal to switch jobs and find what you love. Don’t just say at one place, find what you love and where you love.

 7. “Be flexible.”

 It is important to always be flexible, especially when working with clients. LaVaute said things may not go as planned and you have to learn how to handle these situations, especially in the digital age and with social media. Social media is experimental and you have to learn what works for your client or company, said LaVaute. I agree with LaVaute that we must always be flexible as PR professionals. This is a great article on how to use social media successfully.

 8.“The communications world is changing.”

We hear in all our PR classes that communications and the PR world is always changing. We see this in the way the world of social media has developed, but I think it is something we can’t forget. Bradley stressed the importance of never stop learning and continuing your education, even when you are in the PR field.

 9. “Give and receive feedback.”

 LaVaute talked about not only giving feedback but also receiving feedback. It is important to learn how to take feedback, make changes if needed, and grow from it. You must also not be afraid to give feedback to others. I believe that feedback is how we learn, and this is important for any new PR professional starting out in the field.

10.“Turn your mistake into an opportunity.”

 The last and most important piece of advice I received was to turn your mistake into an opportunity. You always have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and at the end of the day we all make mistakes. Instead of focusing on that mistake turn it into an opportunity to learn and grow.

As we head off to graduation and the nerves sink in about what I am going to do next I believe it is important to remember these tips. Graduating from college you may not have it all figured out but I don’t believe you have to. The PR world is ever changing. Give yourself time to find what you love to do.

Rachel Dwornick is a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying public relations with a minor in communications. She holds the position of Member Relations in PRSSA and is an active member of Alpha Xi Delta. Follow her on Twitter at @racheldwornick.

The importance of finding a mentor

By: Lauren Houck



From the time we were young kids we’ve had people we looked up to. Our parents, our aunts, uncles, grandparents, firefighters, the president; the list goes on. So why is it that when we graduate and head off to college, we ditch the idea of having a mentor?

Having a mentor is one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself in college. Networking is something we all learn about in class. We attend events, use hashtags to connect, and put ourselves out there on social media, so we should also be putting ourselves out there to find a professional in our field of study. Mentors can help with a lot of the problems we face while in college. They know how stressful college can be, and can give you advice on how to get through the college years, and give you hope for the future.

Eastern Michigan University’s chapter of PRSSA will be hosting at least 10 public relations professionals on Feb. 16 from 5:30 to 7 .p.m. in room 352 of the Student Center. This event is called speed mentoring, and will give everyone an opportunity to talk with every professional there, get advice on resumes, talk about internships, and have intelligent conversation about the field. This is a chance to network with people, which could turn into a lifelong mentorship.

Lauren Houck is a senior at EMU studying public relations and minoring in communication. Lauren enjoys meeting new people, learning different perspectives, and building relationships with people. Lauren loves traveling and will go on an adventure whenever the opportunity arises.