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Allison Garrity

Allison Garrity

Year of Graduation: 2010
Major: Communication
Current Position: PR & Production Coordinator, Armstrong Interactive, Inc., New York, NY

Please give a brief description of your current position and where you're working.
I work for Armstrong Interactive, Inc.; it's a small, New York-based production company that produces the hit New England TV show, Community Auditions: Star of the Day.  I am the PR and Production Coordinator where 50 percent of my time is spent organizing and coordinating for the shoot, 40 percent of my time is spent doing all things PR: social media, press releases, website development, reaching out to local media outlets and establishing relationships with local radio personalities.  The other 10 percent of my time is spent managing the day-to-day things in the office.  On a given day, 3-5 people report to me.

What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?
I was a Communication major at CSB/SJU.  I took classes that taught me valuable skills that I use everyday in my current job.  I did two internships; one in the Communication and Marketing Services department at CSB/ SJU and one at Leighton Broadcasting as a Promotions Intern.  I wrote sports articles for the Record and I was very active in the JEC on the PR and Marketing committee; during my senior year I was the Co-chair of the committee.  I kept copies of everything I wrote and did for my classes, for the newspaper and my internships.   I'm very active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.  I also spent a lot of time on websites such as Mashable.com and following companies I was interested in working for on Twitter and LinkedIn. I was able to get my current job through networking with some of my mom's colleagues.  Never underestimate the power of networking!

What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
I think the best advice is to keep copies of any piece of work, or any project you work on.  Employers not only want to see that you have experience and that you have the skills required to do the job but also the results of what you've done or what you've written.   Getting your resume and cover letter critiqued is important but I think networking and keeping up-to-date with the latest social media and PR trends is almost more important.  Being able to show that you have knowledge in your field beyond the basics goes a long way in an interview.  I was once asked in an interview what I knew about the latest news in the PR industry; that caught me off guard. Since that interview, I check in almost daily with the latest PR and social media trends within the industry. 

Networking! Networking! Networking!  Networking is huge in my industry.  You should always have a business card with you or at the very least your contact information readily available to give to potential employers.  The other suggestion is to be very cautious in what you put online through your Twitter, your Facebook, your LinkedIn, on blogs you've commented on and of course pictures.  Type your name into Google and you'll be amazed at what shows up.  Once you've been tagged in something or you've posted something online, it's permanent.   Finally try to do as many internships as possible; I've looked at a lot of resumes that don't have any internship experience and my first thought is, why not?  The candidates with internship experience are much more competitive.

What skills are important in your field?
You need to have strong writing skills, impeccable communication skills and you have to feel comfortable talking to anyone within a company, from the Production Assistant to the CEO of the company.  Organization is key; the industry never sleeps so you have to stay as organized as possible.  I think the biggest thing I've learned is that you have to be ready to do or help with anything.  I work for a smaller company so it's a bit unique, but some days I could be on the phone for hours with clients while other days I could be getting invoices out and managing files.  Be ready to wear a lot of hats: we all have to put our time in to get to where we want to be.

What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
I got a lot of help from the Career Resource Center with my resume and my cover letter before I sent it to employers or submitted to job postings.  I kept a close relationship and still have a good relationship with some of my favorite professors that I can go to for industry questions and advice and who I can ask to write recommendations for me.  I attended networking events in St. Cloud, the Twin Cities and on campus.  Anytime a speaker came to my class and I was interested in the company he or she worked for, I always introduced myself and exchanged contact information.  I kept my job search organized, which was very helpful.  I had a list that had who my contact person was, the date that I submitted my application, the exact cover letter and resume I submitted and any notes, all together in one place.  It really helped when it came time for the interview.  I also had several copies of my portfolio.  Finally, if you plan to have a career in the PR industry, it's very important to be social media savvy- not only knowing how to use it but knowing how to create successful campaigns that deliver results. I did a lot of research and when I would apply to jobs, I would look at the company's social media presence and have ideas of ways to improve their image or their product through social media.

What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your job?
I really enjoy getting to work with our clients and the contestants on our show.  But I would be lying if I didn't say that the most rewarding part of my job is seeing a press release I wrote in a newspaper, on a blog or on a website.  The other part is seeing the success and popularity of our show increase since I've started working extensively with our online presence.  It's really cool to use the things I learned in college and apply them to my job and meet the goals my boss has set!