On April 27, 2016, a group of 13 High School students visited the Weber Shandwick headquarters in New York for a Behind-The-Scenes career exploration event. The students were in for a treat. It's not every day you get the opportunity to hear from and meet working professionals from the number 2 top global PR agency. Weber Shandwick has distinguished itself by racking up 1000+ industry awards and securing an enviable client portfolio of world notable brands such as Nike, Disneyland, Oreo and more.
The event began with meet-and-greet introductions with Fanni Gabor, recruiter; Melissa Robinson, human resources director; and Tameka Green, their recently appointed director of diversity and inclusion. As an ice-breaker, the students were asked to introduce themselves and state their favorite leisure and hobby activities. The students then watched a video that gave them an agency overview history and scope of business.
Over a pizza and salad lunch, students were treated to a panel presentation from several young Weber Shandwick employees, ranging from interns to senior executives: Kwanza Johnson- director, Digital, Lauren Hudson- AE, Corporate, Julian Vasquez- account supervisor, Corporate, Khadijah Davis- assistant account executive, Healthcare, Parmida Schahhosseini, AAE- Technology, and Damilare Oyefeso- intern, Technology. All of them outlined the day to day activities of a PR agency and the responsibilities, challenges and rewards of various PR roles.
Some of the students were unsure about their college majors. They were reassured by Parmida Schahhosseini, who shared her story of having 11 majors before finding her passion in PR. She gave invaluable insight on how to make the best out of an internship experience and also how to strengthen their writing skills. Lauren Hudson had a great way of describing PR as “…being at the pulse of everything that is happening in the world.”
The high school students were invited to ask questions to get a clearer understanding of PR operations and the range of current and emerging opportunities that are available in the industry. PR is one of the few sectors that touch every business industry. The students learned that regardless of what career they are interested in pursuing, there is a place for them in PR. Tameka Green summarized the wide scope of PR career opportunities when she said, "Twenty years ago it wasn't common to have a scientist working in the PR field, but with the growing demands of technology and healthcare system, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) has become part of the storytelling process, and who better to connect and tell that story than a doctor, dietitian or scientist."
The students were clearly engaged by the experience and were asking lots of questions. “Before this experience, I had a lot of confusion over the difference
between Public Relations and Advertising. Through my engagement with the staff at Weber & Shadwick, I not only have found clarity, but with that clarity, I have increased my interest in pursuing a prospective career in Public Relations,” said 11th grade student Je’Jae Daniels.
The visit closed out on an inspirational high note when Tameka Green advised students to "…take chances; don't live the rest of your lives wishing you could've done something you were scared to pursue. Listen to your parents but most importantly follow your heart."
Our deepest thanks to the Weber Shandwick team, and Judith Harrison, for being such gracious hosts.
— Nathalie Cazeau & Jacqueline Dolly, High School Outreach Committee