Last week, PPRA hosted the 11th annual Careers 101 panel discussion and networking event at PECO Energy Hall. This year, the panel featured four previous PPRA Fast-Track Award winners who each made an impact in the field early in their careers and continue to be trailblazers in the profession. At the event you could have your professional headshot taken by Jenn Carroll Photography, and also have your resume critiqued by members of PPRA.
Careers 101 was sponsored by The Creative Group (TCG), a leader among marketing and creative staffing agencies. TCG specialize’s in connecting talented, creative professionals with companies looking to hire interactive. design, marketing, advertising and public relations talent.
The night began with light refreshments and networking. It’s always great to see new faces and reconnect with old friends and colleagues in the same room – something that you can expect upon attending a PPRA event.
Matt Cabrey, Executive Director of Select Greater Philadelphia, kicked off the panel by introducing the line-up, comprised of Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway, Director of Communications and Marketing at the Philadelphia Bar Association and current president of PPRA; Danielle Cohn, Senior Director of Entrepreneurial Engagement at Comcast
NBCUniversal; Sarah Fergus, Manager of Marketing Communications for the Philadelphia Flyers; and Robert Johnson, Marketing Manager at Einstein Healthcare Network.
With Cabrey’s energetic lead, the panel hit on topics including interviews and follow-ups, networking, professional development and fostering relationships. While the theme of the night encompassed the industries of public relations and marketing, the panel provided global insight for any student or young professional looking to further their careers. There was something for attendees at all levels to take away.
In response to an inquiry on interviewing, Avakian-Hardaway discussed her experience interviewing for her first job at DuPont. For her interview, she came prepared, she communicated and she engaged. She advised bringing with you a carefully curated portfolio and be respectful when answering and asking questions. You can take a pulse of your interviewer and, if they’re inviting, you should engage by asking questions that expresses interest, such as asking about a certain picture or object that you see in the office.
“The older you get, the more you find your passions,” shared Danielle Cohn, whose experience ranges from marketing and communications to entrepreneurism and innovation. She also recommended that one must “understand the importance of surrounding yourself with people different from you.”
Sarah Fergus reminded us that timing is everything. While professional development is all about networking and bettering yourself, it can also come down to having the right conversation at the right time. That’s how she landed her job with the Flyers, and while the hours can be grueling, she truly loves what she does every day.
“If you bank on one or two job opportunities, you’re not grinding enough.” That’s what Robert Johnson strongly advised, urging the audience to continue working hard every single day to achieve what they want in life. And once you get it? Work harder.
The night ended with a “nugget of wisdom” from each of the panelists:
- “Do not be afraid to work for something you want.” – Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway
- “Grab happenstance by the horns.” – Danielle Cohn
- “Push harder today than you pushed yesterday.” – Robert Johnson
- “Find something to hang your hat on.” – Sarah Fergus
- “Value and nurture your relationships.” – Matt Cabrey
Overall, the major theme of the night surrounds knowing that with PPRA, we all have a network that supports each other.
Tyler Cameron is a public relations professional in Philadelphia and graduate of Temple University, where he studied strategic communication and business and from which he graduated in the spring of 2015. As a former intern at Slice Communications responsible for securing a number of impressive media placements for a variety of clients, he is now officially on the team as a Public Relations Account Manager. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and on Twitter and Instagram @tdfcameron.