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Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Look at an Up-and-Comer: Erin Rohrer

Meet Erin Rohrer, one of this year's Dr. Willard Thompson Scholarship winners and a recent graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato.
1.  Tell me about the jobs that you held while at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Much like several college students, I worked almost daily during my college career. I held a variety of positions throughout college. I first worked as a supervisor, server and bartender at Mexican Village in Mankato. After two years of demanding work, late nights and lack of social life, I realized I needed to focus on a college job that could potentially help me in the future. After recognizing my passion for public relations, I knew it was time for my first internship. I worked on campus in the Athletic Communications department for one semester. During this internship, I conducted research on the history of athletics at MSU, worked at athletic events and even had the opportunity to announce at baseball games. I then took on a position at MSU in the College of Allied Health and Nursing. I served as an assistant to the dean and administrative assistant. This was definitely a step in the right direction. It made me realize how much I enjoyed a fun and challenging office setting and that I was also ready for my second internship. I was hired on at Snell Motors in Mankato in May 2009, as an intern in the Public Relations and Marketing department. After working just one summer as an intern, I was offered a part-time position to stay with the company. This internship led me into my senior year with an even stronger passion for public relations. Not long after, I started writing for the Reporter, MSU’s student-run newspaper. I was a reporter for the paper until I graduated in May 2010.

2.  Which story are you most proud of that you wrote for MSU Reporter and why?

My decision to join the Reporter was one of my best. I had an opportunity, unlike many students on campus, to dig deep into the depths of student organizations, programs, events and the latest news around campus. Before joining the Reporter, I think I took for granted how great it is to be a student in the Mankato community. Throughout my several stories working with community and student organizations as well as significant individuals on campus, I learned more than I could have ever learned in the classroom. Although I was proud of several of my stories, I think the one I enjoyed the most would be my article in the Halloween issue, “A (sham)-rockin’ costume on a budget.” This was the story I spent the most amount of time on, and it ended up front and center of a rather large issue. For this story, I went to almost every thrift store in Mankato and created two costumes for under $15. It was a fun process, and I even persuaded my boyfriend and best friend to dress up in the costumes and pose for the front page article. Although I was mainly a news writer, this variety piece ranks in my top five!

3.  How did your involvement in PRSSA prepare you for a public relations career?

Although I give every bit of gratitude to my incredible professors at MSU, I truly think that my involvement in PRSSA made me who I am as an up-and-coming professional. I had the amazing opportunity to connect and work with a variety of professionals. I often found it discouraging to live in a city smaller than Minneapolis or Saint Paul because I had to compete with students who had endless opportunities in the Twin Cities. However, PRSSA helped get me involved in everything that was going on around the Mankato and the Twin Cities area. If not for the job shadowing, leadership retreats, executive meetings, agency tours and several networking events, I undoubtedly believe I wouldn’t know more than half of the professionals that I continue to keep in contact with. PRSSA played an extensive role in leading me to become the motivated, knowledgeable and involved leader I aspire to be everyday.

4.  How is your job search going?

My job search has actually just recently come to an end, as I have accepted a full-time executive assistant position with Snell Motors. You know how everyone tells you it’s all about who you know? Well, it’s true. I have continued to grow professionally with this company and that’s what I think it’s all about – to put yourself in a situation to grow as a person and as a professional. My dedication to this company was fortunately recognized and it led to me to my first full-time position just one month out of college.

5.  What would be the optimal employment opportunity for you?

I really enjoy where I’m at right now. I think it’s extremely vital to appreciate the people you work with, and have enthusiasm for the company you work for. These two aspects are two of which that have placed me in my current position. However, I’m only 23 years old. I look forward to professionally growing in my current position, yet potentially trying out new opportunities in my future. I have a lot of life to live and my passion in the field of public relations could, and hopefully will, lead me to a little bit of everywhere.

6.  How would you improve BP’s image?

Well, to expand off the previous question, being placed in this position would not be the optimal employment opportunity for me as a recent college grad. However, just as in any crisis communications situation, I truly believe there is a distinct right and wrong way to handle a major crisis such as the oil spill. Most importantly, BP needs to trust an individual enough to serve as the respected voice for the company. We’re all human, and when we’re faced with truthful, encouraging words, we adapt more to a horrific situation than when we are deceived. All things considered, improving BP’s image is going to be a tremendous challenge, but just as several PR cases have showed us – nothing is impossible.

7.  What advice do you have for fellow job seekers?

Network. Network. Network. I know, you’ve heard this a million times. I heard it, too. However, it wasn’t until my final two years of college and even after graduation that I truly recognized its significance. If I wouldn’t have been so involved in college, I honestly don’t think I would have had a chance with any company in my job search. Sometimes it’s the little networking opportunities that students tend to overlook. Even if you don’t think you want a particular job, still take the interview so you meet individuals within the company. Don’t be too proud to take an internship before a full-time position. Job shadow a professional, apply for scholarships, ask for informational interviews, and attend every possible event or informational sessions that are offered to you. I can completely admit that the job search can get tremendously discouraging. Sometimes you feel that no matter how involved you were throughout college, it is still not enough to land a job. However, believe me as a fellow college graduate; staying energetic in your journey and committed to your future will eventually get you what you want – a job that pays the bills and a future worth getting excited about! Nevertheless, don’t sell yourself short. Keep reminding yourself how much you deserve a solid position. Confidence is key in interviews. I like to live by the motto, “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit, when there are footprints on the moon.”

Connect with Erin through LinkedIn.
Contact via Twitter at @PR_ERohrer.

-- Brant Skogrand, APR, MBC / Risdall McKinney Public Relations