In June, a group of public relations students from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) explored Chicago as part of a new course designed to allow students to gain public relations industry experience in a large and diverse market.

PR Students at the Chicago TribuneFrom June 16–19, five students traveled with instructor and public relations area director Kelli Matthews to visit the communications departments behind companies like the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Field Museum, Google and Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs. The inaugural trip gave students a chance to visit global nonprofits, corporate marketing and public relations departments and media centers, while networking with professionals in the field. Students participated in informational interviews to help determine their career objectives.

Matthews says choosing Chicago was an easy decision because the SOJC has some very supportive alumni and friends in the city who helped with scheduling and coordinating site visits.

PR Students at Wrigley FieldBefore traveling to Chicago, students had to list their goals and what they hoped to gain from the trip, have their resumes reviewed, and research the six companies they were visiting.

Baylee Newman, a public relations major, said she learned a lot from visiting the different types of communications departments, which included networking opportunities.

The best piece of professional advice she received during the trip was to cultivate her professional network. “The PR world is much smaller than we think and everyone knows somebody. Public relations is all about relationships, so I’m happy this trip gave me a little push in building further relationships with some of the professionals we met.”

“I sent follow up emails after we got back, and one of the Oregon alums who works at Edelman mentioned she would be in Portland in August,” Newman says. “She offered to introduce me to the Portland Edelman team. That really proved what great connections one trip like this can make and the impact it can have on my future.”

Matthews says the trip was a huge success.

“We will offer this class again in June 2016,” Matthew says. “We have extraordinarily gracious and generous alumni in Chicago that were welcoming and accommodating and I look forward to building those connections over time.”

Story by Corinne Boyer