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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Journey to My Job: Jim Accurso

This post of "Journey to My Job" features Jim Accurso, Media and External Relations Manager for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Accurso started his position in January.

1. Tell me about your career path so far, and how you found each of your jobs.

My current PR career path began in 1997 when I volunteered to write the departmental newsletter for the China Accelerated Management Training Program (CAMP) while working as a contractor for Motorola University in Beijing. I was soon offered the Year2000 Communications Coordinator position with Motorola China in 1999. After repatriating in 2000, and with no vacancies in the Motorola corporate PR department in suburban Chicago, I returned to school to earn a Master of Science in Managerial Communications (MSC) degree from Northwestern University. As this was a weekends-only, executive program, I was free to immerse myself in volunteer PR work for my Catholic parish and school.

Jim Accurso
The PR jobs I’ve held began with recommendations from peers, co-workers and friends. I learned of the Marketing Communications Director position I had at Holy Family Parish in Inverness, Ill., from a friend; a co-worker there alerted me to the Assistant Director of Media Relations opening at the Archdiocese of Chicago; a fellow networker clued me in to the fact that the U.S. Census Bureau was looking for experienced media relations pros to fill Media Specialist opportunities for the 2010 Census; Brooke Worden called to ask if I knew anyone interested in the Communications Director opening with the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. I replied, “Yes, me!” and she saw that my resume was soon in the retiring director’s hands. Two months and four interviews later, I was offered the job I now have.

2. Describe what you do in your current position at the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

As the archdiocese’s Media and External Relations Manager, I handle all media inquiries; pitch stories; write releases, talking points, Q&As, statements and letters; provide advice and counsel on crisis situations and media opportunities, including interviews, articles and op-eds; contribute to the look, feel and content of the archdiocesan website; interact with my peers at local Catholic universities and agencies; and co-lead a newly-formed archdiocesan communications user’s group.

3. What worked well for you in your most recent job search?

In-person networking, and a willingness to meet and help others on their terms, worked best in my recent job search. In mid-October, I met a retired gentleman who very pointedly encouraged me to commit to meeting two people in person each day in addition to the myriad job search activities I was also engaged in, which included multiple job-networking groups, online job boards, and working with job coaches.

4. What would you have done differently in your most recent job search?

I would have jumped in feet-first — and been willing to meet more people face-to-face for coffee, etc. — much sooner in my recent job search. That said, relocating here from Chicago in April brought with it its own challenges, so I think I didn’t do all bad, especially when considering I was a finalist for two very good media relations jobs with Mayo Clinic and St. Paul Public Schools in June and August respectively.

5. What advice do you have for job seekers today?

The best advice I can give job seekers today is to keep all options on the table including volunteer, contracting, part-time and job-sharing opportunities. Also, seek out as many meetings as possible with fellow PR pros who are currently working; don’t be unwilling to pick up the phone or e-mail those you want to “talk shop” with; you’ll be surprised at how many positive responses you get.

Connect with Accurso through LinkedIn or Twitter.

 -- Brant Skogrand, APR, MBC / Skogrand PR Solutions, LLC