CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 3, 2014 – After studying major public relations figures and agencies in his mass communications courses, Southeast Missouri State University senior Angelo Jones of St. Louis took a leap of faith and moved to New York City for the summer where he interned with Ketchum, one of the very agencies he learned about.
“While at Ketchum, I was able to work on the account teams for Fruit of the Loom, IKEA, Pernod Ricard, Waterford and Gillette in which I would help with launch events, monitor what was being said about them in the media, visit the set of the ‘Today Show’ and brief my teams on opportunities to get our clients more media coverage,” Jones said.
Jones, the current president of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), admits he was shocked he earned an internship with the company.
“I first heard of Ketchum in my MC330 – Public Relations Principles class with Dr. (Susan) Gonders. She spoke highly of the company, its influence in the industry and leading figures in the company. However, at the time I thought I could never have a shot at landing such a competitive and coveted internship. I also didn’t think I had the skills needed at that level,” Jones said.
In October 2013, he was a part of an eight-member delegation to the PRSSA National Conference in Philadelphia where his perception on his abilities and qualifications changed for the better.
“I was eating my breakfast one morning at the conference and a man walked over to my table and began discussion. We talked about public relations and men in public relations for almost an hour and I had no idea who he was. At the end of the breakfast, he gave me his card and it was John Paluszek, one of the key public relations figures I learned about in my MC330 textbook and past president of our organization,” Jones said, ” Before our conversation, I would have never considered working for a large agency, but he was so genuine and approachable. He represented the company well. So, I was more open about large agencies, but I still felt as if I did not have the experience required to work in such an environment. “
While in Philadelphia, Jones and a few others from the trip took a day to New York, where he decided he would one day live.
“Unknowingly to Dr. Gonders, we took a trip to New York. I had never been and always wanted to visit. Once we arrived, I saw the Empire State Building and new World Trade Center with the millions of people everywhere. That day, I told myself I would one day work and live here. I wasn’t sure how, but my parents always told me to speak positive things over my life and have faith in your words,” Jones said.
Now curious about the company and New York, Jones followed a member on Ketchum’s Human Resources team and to his amazement, she began a conversation with him.
“When Adriana direct messaged me saying how she noticed I was very involved in public relations and would give me an informational interview, my heart dropped,” Jones said. “Subsequently, I decided to apply for the program, and after three interviews and a writing challenge, I was notified I had been chosen.”
Ketchum’s Summer Fellows Program is a highly competitive internship program that nearly 1,000 students apply for each year. Fellows, as the interns are called, in the New York office work on various account teams for nationally recognized brands. Toward the end of the program, fellows must complete what is known as a fellows project, which is a campaign proposal or pitch for a client to possibly implement in their public relations strategy.
“I absolutely loved working on the fellow’s project. It gave me the chance to discover what skills I am the strongest in and what skills I need to develop. It was also an amazing opportunity to work on a team of likeminded fellows that wanted to succeed as much as I did,” Jones said.
His biggest obstacle was overcoming what he thought he couldn’t do. Jones says he tells other students who are trying to reach their full potential to work hard and meet new people.
“My advice for everyone, no matter major, age, experience level, etc. is to get out of your comfort zone and network. Don’t be afraid of doing things on your own and being misunderstood by others. In the long run, the payoff supersedes the initial struggle.”