Seneca Program: Public Relations – Corporate Communications
Degree Program and Institution: Master’s in Strategic Public Relations – George Washington University
Why did you choose Seneca?
Upon finishing my undergraduate degree, I wanted to get applicable training to compliment my theoretical background. I chose Seneca’s Public Relations – Corporate Communications program after looking into similar programs and asking other students about their experience at Seneca. However, the major point that influenced my decision was the instructors. The instructors are industry professionals who are willing to help students succeed through insight and mentorship.
What influenced your decision to continue your education after completing your Seneca Program?
To be honest, the drive to continue my education was sparked early on during my undergraduate career however, it wasn’t until Seneca that I realized I could actually make it a reality. My undergrad was in political science and sociology; I’ve always been interested in international politics and influencing public policy. That being said, a lot of people in my undergraduate program kept the idea of working or studying in Washington D.C., the political heart of the world, in the back of their minds. It stayed there until I began my program at Seneca and I was lucky to meet wonderful professors that would push me to continuing my education.
David Turnbull and Jeff Roach introduced the idea of a master’s degree to me through a Seneca pathway to Washington, D.C. Students were later invited to attend a lecture hosted by Larry Parnell, a George Washington University Director for the Graduate School of Political Management’s strategic public relations stream. After that, I was motivated to apply and continue my education in Washington, D.C. Initially I had my doubts about whether I would be an ideal candidate to be accepted however, David and Jeff were the ones who motivated me to press on through the process and eventually become the first Canadian student to attend through the Seneca pathway.
How did your Seneca program prepare you for your Master’s program?
Seneca’s Public Relations – Corporate Communications gave me the foundation I needed to study at the graduate level. It helped me with fundamental public relations skills such as different ways to write, networking, and the importance of understanding stakeholders. It definitely helped as the majority of the people in the graduate program had industry experience that I was lacking.
What are you up to now?
I’m still finishing up my studies here in Washington, D.C. However, once I am cleared to work in the US, I’ll be searching for internships at public relations agencies and lobbying firms.
From experience, what do you think the value of having both a Graduate Certificate and a Master’s degree is?
The value is in diversifying your skill set through the two programs. For example, I was able to enhance my foundation through the Graduate Certificate program at Seneca, but through my Master’s program at GWU, I’m able to identify which stream of public relations I am interested in and how I can maximize the program through the courses I take. This is accented throughout the GWU program as assignments are open to the interpretation of the students. We are able to approach our assignments depending on which industry we are interested in and how we individually apply our styles to the given challenge.
What knowledge do you know now that you wish you knew before applying to a graduate program?
I wish I knew more about American politics and the different state dynamics. It’s interesting to see the different cultures that are apparent from every State in the US. What people care about, interactions, and etc. are very important here in Washington, D.C. As an international student, it can be difficult to relate with individuals in the political world as a lot of their passion comes from home-state values.
Any words of advice to students who are currently in the program you graduated out of at Seneca?
Step out of your comfort zone. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. It can be scary moving out of the country for school, starting a new life, and creating a whole new network. It’s going to be difficult, you might get lonely, but at the end of it all, you are going to thank yourself for challenging yourself. David was the best at challenging us to step out of our comfort zones. He gave us the confidence we needed to excel in our industry. Don’t let things stagnate around you and don’t get too comfortable. Always try to learn new things or move to a different job when you can afford to.
Network when possible. Although something might not come out of it right away, the connections you make can be very helpful in the future. Invite them out for coffee to learn more about your industry, who knows, the two of you could help each other and mentor each other. One piece of advice I was given in Washington, D.C., was earbuds out. What this means is, don’t always have music on during your commutes. Strike up a conversation with someone in line at the coffee shop, you’d be surprised how that relationship turns out and how that connection could help you out in the future. Be ready to make engaging small talk with anyone you meet.