College Lifestyles ™ is proud to have a variety of classy interns from all over the nation. The benefits of being a part of CL are that you gain a lifetime of experience from the company, and are also immersed in a family of co-eds who are focused in a diversity of studies. This January’s Major of the Month is Public Relations, and CL’s Social Media Intern Michelle Niewald, 20, was more than happy to be interviewed on what she loves about being a PR major at Stephens College. From discussing her amazing internship in NYC to expressing her desire of settling down and working part-time one day, Michelle dishes on the benefits PR has to offer.
College Lifestyles: Did you pick a school based on your major?
Michelle Niewald: I picked my school because of dance and psychology, which I initially wanted to study in college. It just so happens that Stephens also has a phenomenal marketing program as well as the only student-run marketing firm in Missouri.
CL: When did you pick your major?
MN: I picked my major after the first semester of my freshman year.
CL: Why did you pick PR?
MN: After I realized that I would never be a professional dancer and that I am just not suited for counseling, I figured out that I have always wanted to help people. I want to help the consumer make decisions that will benefit them, not just assist in the company’s profit share. I try to go by David Ogilvy’s philosophy that, “The consumer isn’t a moron—she’s your wife. You wouldn’t want me to lie to your wife, so don’t lie to mine.” PR revolves around how you portray yourself to the public; it helps shape opinion. I don’t ever want to lie to people and I believe in owning up to your mistakes. If I have to handle someone’s bad PR, I will make sure they make amends to the best of my ability.
CL: Did anyone influence your choice of major? How and why?
MN: Every year, my school has an opening convocation in which a keynote speaker kicks the school year off. A woman named Jenny spoke at mine; she worked in New York and seemed to have a fabulous life. She exuded confidence and happiness, and all I could think of was how I wanted that for myself as well—to be successful and happy no matter how hard I would have to work. She was also an marketing, public relations and advertising major, and from that moment I kept thinking about how that’s what I needed to change my major to.
CL: What classes did you take based on your major? What did you do in these classes?
MN: I have taken marketing, public relations and graphic design classes, completed an internship in marketing and have just completed my first year in my practicum. I get hands on experience with real world clients to help build my portfolio, even in the basic classes! I’ve written marketing and PR plans for a few different businesses, including nonprofits. I work for a marketing agency called Creative Ink as the traffic manager, where I make sure everyone is organized, and also as an account executive. We work with real clients throughout Missouri doing design work, marketing plans and brand standards guides, along with marketing our firm to build the business.
CL: Did you enjoy your classes? Why or why not?
MN: I very much enjoy my classes because they are relevant and applicable to my life and exactly what I want to do.
CL: What would you say to someone considering PR?
MN: Be ready to work and get as much experience in college to make you ready for a career!
CL: What do you like and dislike about your major?
MN: I know it will be very competitive, and while I strive for the best, I will never be immature or childish to get ahead even when it may hurt me. I definitely believe that having my well-rounded major will certainly give me an edge, but the stress of experience that my school pushes will definitely be the thing that puts me ahead. We have to complete an internship to graduate, so by the time I’ve finished, I will have ideally completed three internships and two and a half years of agency practicum, along with a number of other extensive activities. I think this will help me tremendously.
CL: Can you explain the internships you have had involving your major?
MN: I did an internship at a promotional product distributor called Axis Promotions in NYC. Best internship ever! For one thing, the company had incredible integrity, which is very refreshing for a college student’s first real taste of a big kid job. I got to work on actual projects, including a trend report that was sent out to the company’s clients. By watching my supervisors and getting to work with clients, I realized that you have to work your hardest to make sure clients are happy. That could mean staying late or arguing with a vendor to get a lower price, but not at the compromise of your company’s dignity. I am also doing a great internship at College Lifestyles ™ and love it as well. I’m in the process of applying to more for the summer.
CL: What are your future career goals?
MN: I want to work for an advertising agency or in-house corporation until I settle down and have children. I’m not going to lie, but I want to take a little time off to spend time with my kids while working part-time in marketing. Eventually, it would be nice to start my own company. I would like to start as an account manager and maybe end as the head of a team. It’s hard to see right now if I’ll ever be a VP or anything, but hey, dare to dream, right?
CL: Any advice for other students in PR?
MN: Be persistent, work hard and consider your own points of difference. Only then will you be able to succeed and be your best self. You’re just as hardworking, honest and dependable as the next person.
Are you currently a PR major? Do you have additional advice for readers looking into becoming one as well? Tell us some tips in the comment section below!