By Grace Hashiguchi and Morgan Karbowski
On a bright, balmy morning in early December, 31 public relations students, led by UO School of Journalism and Communication instructors Kelli Matthews and Courtney Munther, waltzed through the streets of San Francisco on their way to the Twitter headquarters. It was the first stop on a full day’s itinerary that included visits to Salesforce, LEWIS and FleishmanHillard. And it was an eye-opening finale for the inaugural #GoldenGateDucks PR trip to San Francisco.
The previous day, our cohort covered even more ground, splitting into two groups to visit the San Francisco Giants, the PAC-12 Networks, PAN Communications, Stitch Fix, Inner Circle Labs and Gap/Banana Republic. That evening we also attended a mixer where we had the opportunity to have candid conversations with UO alumni about the journey to employment.
Every student took away a unique experience from the trip. Here are a few personal insights we gathered from our fellow participants:
For the first few years of college, many people live in a bubble, drifting through a limbo between adolescence and adulthood. And then, all too soon, it’s senior year, and the first question your relatives ask you at Thanksgiving dinner is, “So, what are your plans after college?”
Cue the stress.
At the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, 30 other SOJC students and I met with a panel who shared their career stories. To my surprise and relief, everyone on the panel admitted that their career path was once unknown and took many unexpected turns. As a senior, it is easy to compare yourself to people who already have jobs lined up, but it is important to remember that this is the exception, not the rule.
Staying sane as graduation looms ahead isn’t always easy, but it is comforting to know that even the people we admire were once in our shoes.
During a packed two days in San Francisco, the moment that stands out to me the most was talking with alumna Emily Pallack at PAN Communications. Emily shared her SOJC portfolio with us, treated the entire group as friends and encouraged all of us to always look forward in life.
A recurring theme throughout the two days was to “be bold.” Emily echoed that theme throughout her presentation with insights on how she got to PAN and what gave her the drive to finish strong at the SOJC.
While I enjoyed visiting a variety of agencies and learning about the hiring process, the moment that resonated with me the most was at LEWIS. I’ve always been told to consider the work culture when applying for internships, but visiting with LEWIS made it clear to me why. For example, I learned that in the right agency, you don’t have to specialize in just one thing. It’s an open space to expand your career skills.
I’m also grateful for the opportunity to visit the Giants and realized that working in my dream organization is within reach.
Overall, this experience has been invaluable and taught me that not only is work culture important, but also that there’s a network of people we can reach out to for help. I’m looking forward to staying in touch with them and continuing to build off the skills I gained from this trip.
As I got on the plane after my 48 hours in San Francisco, I was left with a final thought that I know will carry me through the often overwhelming process of becoming an “adult”: Joe Wadlington, a member of the panel at Twitter, reminded us the process of getting from our seats to theirs was not flawless, nor was it logical.
“Getting from A to Z may seem obvious now as I tell my story, but when I was actually living it, it couldn’t have made less sense,” he said.
In other words, embrace the confusion. Statistically, we will all change careers a few times, pack up and move a few more. Though we all are hungry to wind up in their seats, I still think ours are a little more fun.
The #GoldenGateDucks trip was not only fun, but also a great learning experience. Getting the opportunity to learn about and compare different career tracks in public relations, such as fashion and technology, was incredibly beneficial. The trip also clarified the difference between an in-house and an agency position and how they work together in the big picture.
My favorite part was getting to learn about the culture of each company and hearing how it impacts the people working there. We met with alumni who gave detailed insight on first jobs, the application process and their overall careers.
After finishing J454: Public Relations Campaigns this term, this trip was the cherry on top to feeling equipped to enter the “real world” of communications.
All participants agreed: The experience was an overwhelming success. The trip motivated many of us to update LinkedIn, revise our resumes, design business cards and reflect on how to leave a lasting impression with professional contacts. We got the chance to network with our peers and future colleagues. And the experience of finding poise in professional spaces gave us a taste of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the post-grad world.
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Grace Hashiguchi is a senior in the UO Clark Honors College majoring in public relations with a minor in Spanish. She stays busy in Allen Hall working as writing coach at Writing Central and an account supervisor for Allen Hall Public Relations. She hopes to use her thesis research on corporate social responsibility and emerging tech in her career, supporting socially conscious clients wherever she goes. Follow Grace on Twitter @gvhashiguchi, Instagram @gracehashiguchi and on Linkedin.
Morgan Karbowski is a junior public relations major in the SOJC who is also minoring in creative writing. She is originally from Seattle and hopes to work somewhere on the West Coast after graduation. She volunteers on campus as a member of the planning committee for University Day and works as a social media coordinator for DuckTV PR. Follow Morgan on Instagram @morgan.karbowski, on Twitter @morgankarbowski and on LinkedIn.