Finding the right job at the right company

by Shonnan Usman

September 29, 2017

Human resources professionals give interview advice at the public relations roundtable

Five human resources professionals visited Newhouse this week to give public relations (PR) students a glimpse behind the curtain, and to give everyone advice from the front lines on how to ace that big interview.

“Trust how you feel when you are on an interview. If you are excited and can’t think about anything else after, then that’s a good sign,” said Donna Renella, president of ABW Solutions LLC. Interviews should be treated like a conversation. It’s chance to show the employer what was learned. It’s also an opportunity to ask questions and verify that the organization will be a good fit.

Renella was the moderator of the panel.

A photo of the panelists at the human resources roundtable for public relations
L to R: Karla Wagner, Kristin Sauro, Amber Arnold, Bonnie Conklin, Khristy Nguyen, Donna Renella, and public relations department chair Rochelle Ford Saniya More

Karla Wagner, the head of talent and human resources at Finsbury, North America, was another panelist that shared her wisdom. “If it’s the end of the interview and you have no questions, then I will close the books. It shows you are not interested in the company.”

The other panelists were Amber Arnold, corporate communications manager at MWWPR; Bonnie Conklin, junior human resources generalist at Vision7 Communications Inc.; Khristy Nguyen, human resources business partner at Devries Global; and Kristin Sauro, human resources associate at Burson Marstellar.

Human resources is integral part of the acquisition of talent in the PR industry. It’s also an entry point for job seekers to find employment.

Renella remarked that entering the field of public relations is different from other industries. It gives the young professional an exposure to a wide variety of industry clients and experience that may not be found in any other profession. She argues it is a lot of work but enjoyable. Renella emphasized that New York City is a hub for PR professionals and believes it is worth it to start off a career there because it’s the headquarters for many major firms.

$40,000 is an industry standard for entry level salaries for public relations professionals in New York City. Salaries can vary based on region, cost of living, and size of the firm. When asked about career trajectory, Renella remarked that it’s possible to have an income in the six figure range by the age of 30. This can be the case for people who work very hard and continue to get promotions. The person must also be good at bringing in new business to the firm.

A major theme of the panel was the importance of finding a good cultural fit in a workplace. The panelists suggest researching companies before interviewing and visiting its website to see if the firm’s values align with career interests. It’s also important to visit the office ahead of time, walk around, and see how people interact. The design of office spaces is another thing to consider. Some places are cubicle-based, while other offices have open seating with no cubicles to encourage collaboration.

Olivia Schlesinger, a junior public relations major, shared what she learned at the event.

“Do your research before an interview, come prepared with questions to ask because it shows you’re actually interested. No matter the job, you should be sure you fit in with the company culture, because that’s very important. If you can see yourself working for a company, then you will be more likely to thrive.”

Shonnan Usman is a senior public relations major.