PRSSA Welcomes Back Our Grady Grads! 

By: Sara Lawrence

This Tuesday, PRSSA had its very own former executive members speak and answer all of our post-grad questions at our semester kickoff meeting! Meet our speakers and see some of the questions they answered here: 

  • Emily Goncalves

    • Internal Consultant At Cox Communications
    • Former President of PRSSA
    • BA in Public Relations  
  • Lena Soenke

    • Associate Programmatic at Mindshare
    • Former Vice President of PRSSA
    • BA in Advertising 
  • Rachael Jones

    • Junior Associate at Weber Shandwick
    • Former Public Relations Director of PRSSA
    • BA in Public Relations and English & MA in Integrated ADPR

“What does your job look like?” 

Spanning the agency, corporate PR and even advertising world, Emily, Lena, and Rachael all spoke on the different day-to-day tasks they complete in their jobs. Emily participates in multiple meetings, writes emails and engages in other project-specific tasks through the rotational Cox LEAD program that has exposed her to all different sides of Cox Communications. As an associate programmatic, Lena supports the implementation of client campaign objectives and utilizes ad technology platforms, which includes checking ad campaigns and placing and targeting ads. At an agency, Rachael works mainly in client experience and media relations PR for McDonalds, Coke Creations and Smartwater, creating media lists, researching and engaging in other traditional PR activities. 

“What did you learn from the transition from student life to the working world?” 

Emily and Lena both graduated in May 2022, and Rachael just graduated in December 2022, so all of our speakers are very recent graduates. All three stressed that they learned that you’re not going to be the smartest person in the room. It is important to ask questions and recognize that there will be a learning curve when you first start your job. Lena said that you should recognize that your superiors helping you ultimately helps them, which is why it is expected to ask for help. Rachael also acknowledged that new hires should give themselves credit and keep in mind that they were hired to help and are important to the team.  

“What advice do you have for students to prepare for the transition?” 

Lena recounted being very stressed to graduate because she did not have a job until a week after graduation. She told students that they will be okay if they don’t have a job prior to graduation and that there is only so much they can prepare for once they get one. Your workplace will often have an onboarding process to help you when you start. Emily recommended that graduates should be open minded and ready to spend time with their new boss and coworkers to make it an enjoyable experience. “Fake it till you make it” was Rachael’s advice, advising new hires to take each day as it comes and remember that everyone at their workplace has their best interest in mind. 

“What were you involved in at UGA that has helped you in your early career?” 

Besides PRSSA, Emily was involved in the PAC program and highly recommended the DC agency tour, where she was exposed to different types of public relations and discovered that she liked the corporate side of the industry more than agency work. Lena was involved in TEDxUGA, which is a New Media Institute class that allows students to curate TED talks. This gave her the chance to work with speakers and teams of her peers, which prepared her for working in collaborative groups in the workforce. Rachael highlighted the significance of the PR campaigns courses that are designed to replicate the workforce and the PR Communications class that taught her classic PR skills.  

“How has networking benefited you?” 

Emily used networking to get her current job with Cox. A Cox worker from the LEAD program spoke at PRSSA and Emily networked with her after the meeting. She was also involved with the UGA mentor program, connecting students with UGA alumni in their dream jobs. Lena used networking to learn how to speak with superiors in the field, which greatly helped her during interviews. She advised that students reach out to the people who post the job listing they are applying for like she did. Rachael stressed that the network you build carries with you. She reached out to an employee of Weber’s from a PRSSA meeting as well, which helped her secure her current role.

We want to thank Emily, Lena and Rachael for sharing their experiences and advice with us! Before you know it, you’ll be out in the working world too! Make sure to mark your calendars for our next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7 to learn all about Cosmetics PR!