I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Laura Jollie a few times now–namely at the MN PRSSA Leadership Rally last summer, and at PRSSA meetings at the University of Minnesota.
She’s just one of those young people who has “it.” I’m never sure what “it” is, but “it” is definitely a good thing. “It” is really just a sense–at least for me (also: see her “eagerness to learn” comment below–sums it up). It’s that indefinable quality that just makes people like Laura stand out.
Of course, she has the resume to back it up. Willard Thompson Scholarship award winner (two years in a row). PRSSA president at the U of M. Great internships (with Weber Shandwick). Heck, she even has a father who’s been a leader in our industry for years (Tom Jollie at Padilla CRT). So, it’s probably no surprise I’m featuring her today. Let’s here what she has to say.
You just won the Dr. Willard Thompson Scholarship Award last week at the Minnesota PRSA Classics Awards. What does that mean to you, and how do you think an honor like this will help you as you seek your first job in the months ahead?
Accepting the Dr. Willard Thompson Scholarship is a huge honor for me — I’m flattered! My biggest take away from the award is that I will have an accredited writing piece to show potential employers when I go to interviews. I won this award last year as well, so it will be cool to present both work pieces to the agencies I apply for. It’s also really gratifying to accept the award in front of all the best PR agencies in the Twin Cities! It gets you some pretty awesome exposure and sets you apart from other students.
You’ve had great internships (Weber Shandwick), good college work experience (MN Daily) and you’re involved with your profession (president of the University of Minnesota PRSSA chapter). All that PLUS what I’m guessing has been a full course load lately. How on earth do you pull all that off?
Looking back on my college life is crazy! To be honest, I’m not sure how I did it all. It sounds silly, but I get an adrenaline rush when I have a lot to do. It’s also when I do my best work. I like challenging myself and seeing how far I can go and what I can accomplish. (I think that’s the gymnast inside of me). Some days can be pretty hectic, but I just like to think it’s preparing me for an agency career. I mean, let’s be honest, you can’t complete a marathon without training months in advance.
What advice would you have for other students just starting their collegiate careers in PR? What’s been most helpful to you in terms of internships vs. PRSA vs. work experience?
To be honest, I don’t think I could have accomplished everything I did without my closest friends, coworkers and classmates. Make sure to surround yourself with people who will have your back and who will be able to challenge you. Learn quickly and go the extra mile to make other people’s lives easier. As far as each of my experiences go, I think they’ve all helped me learn different aspects of the PR in one way or another. PRSSA has escorted me out of my comfort zone and has challenged me to craft my own ideas and meet a ton of people. On the other hand, the work and internship experiences I’ve obtained over the years have allowed me to learn from some of the best in the PR industry.
You’re a regular on the PRSA circuit–in fact, I just saw you last week at Classics! How do you attend these PRSA events that many students believe are so intimidating? Any tips/advice to offer up to those considering attending, but are just a little skittish?
The way I see it, professionals who attend the Minnesota PRSA events were once young college students like myself. At one point or another, they had to put their foot down, leave their comfort zone and introduce themselves to the big wig in the room. My advice is to attend the PRSA events and keep attending them. You would be surprised by how much confidence you will gain and how many connections you will make. Confidence + Connections make the world go round (and can get you the job)!
You’ve obviously also been very involved with PRSSA the last few years. What has been the value to you in donating so much time to PRSSA over the years? Would you do it again?
Again: Yes — no questions asked. There is only so much you can learn about public relations in a classroom and PRSSA has allowed me to see inside the active world of PR and experience how it all works. It’s been incredibly beneficial to hear from guest speakers, go on agency tours and participate in networking events. Networking is by far my favorite part of PRSSA! (Follow me: @LauraSOJollie)
Some people may not know, but you’re the daughter of long-time PR executive, Tom Jollie at Padilla CRT. What kind of role has your Dad played in your career so far?
My dad has been in PR for over 30 years and has so much wisdom to give, it’s crazy! I’m extremely grateful for him and how much he has taught me throughout my life and my PR career. I remember going to bring your kid to work day and I absolutely loved watching my dad in his element. I like to brag about my dad to my friends because I think he is so talented and fun! The biggest thing I’ve learned from my dad is that no one can get to where they want without putting in A LOT of hard work. Over the years, I’ve seen him put in hours around the clock to get the project done.
You took an internship with Weber Shandwick and its financial services practice last summer. What would you tell other students about interning for a big agency like Weber? Pros/cons?
Holding an active role in a current PR company was invaluable! When I was working in the financial services department, I learned the basics of crafting media lists, drafting social media posts, new business research and a ton of other things. I can tell you that projects move fast and you need to be ready to move quickly. Don’t worry though, agencies usually provide free coffee! 🙂
You’re on the verge of entering the job market in June. Here’s your chance to tell prospective employers why they should hire you–what would you tell them in 100 words or less?
You can’t teach people to be passionate and enthusiastic, you either have it or you don’t. I pride myself in having both, especially in the arena of PR. I think my participation in PRSSA, the various internships I’ve attained and my work at the Minnesota Daily have all demonstrated both my ability and devotion to PR. I also think my eagerness to learn is distinct. My supervisor at WS noted that my greatest strength was my eagerness to gain valuable experience that will prepare me for the future. Honestly, no one should outgrow their need to learn!
One last question: I see you started your collegiate career at Michigan State University? As a lifelong Gopher fan, I have to ask: What on earth possessed you to do such a thing? 🙂
Go green! Go white! I was actually a gymnast for 16 years and was recruited by MSU on an athletic scholarship. Long story short, I had some injuries that plagued me in my high school career that carried into my first year of college. After my first year, I decided it was time hang up my grips and be done. I ended up transferring back to the U of M to pursue my new passion in PR! Don’t worry though, my allegiance will always be with the Gophers. 🙂