Graduating college students entering the workforce are experiencing unprecedented levels of uncertainty and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For those recent and soon-to-be graduates, Kate Keib, assistant professor of communication at Oglethorpe University, offers a message of hope.
“Believe in yourself and know those who support you are ready to help.”
Keib has intimate knowledge of the student experience not only in the classroom but also in helping establish and oversee Oglethorpe’s PRSSA Chapter.
Prior to joining the world of academia, Keib – who earned her Ph.D in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Georgia – enjoyed a long career in digital marketing at Atlanta’s NBC affiliate WXIA-TV, better known as Channel 11 or 11Alive to Georgia locals.
With a most unusual academic year coming to a close, this latest installment of Chapter Chat, a member-focused profile series offering industry insights intertwined with candid commentary, shines the spotlight on Professor Keib, who is dedicated to developing the next wave of PR leaders.
Let’s get to know Kate Keib in her own words.
Question: What can you tell our readers about your “day job”?
Answer: I am an assistant professor at Oglethorpe University. The best part of my job is working with students. I teach, advise and help to oversee the Oglethorpe University Chapter of PRSSA.
Q: How did you become involved in launching Oglethorpe’s PRSSA Chapter?
A: When I started at Oglethorpe University, I was asked to help develop a public relations track for students. The faculty in the communications studies program recognized a need for students to dive deeper into this area of communication studies, and they had the wisdom to envision a program that was deep and meaningful. Part of what I saw then was an opportunity to create a community of learners outside of the classroom, so PRSSA was a logical way to engage students in that way.
Q: What advice do you have for PR and communications graduates entering the workforce during a pandemic?
A: Keep working. Apply for jobs and internships. Work on your resume and LinkedIn. Connect with your alumni association, professional organizations and keep networking virtually. Attend every virtual training or seminar that you can. You never know who you will meet or what advice could open your eyes to an opportunity that you had not considered.
If you can’t find a job or internship, find a place to volunteer. But don’t just volunteer in any capacity, create an opportunity to grow your career-related skills. Offer to do PR for a local small business or nonprofit to grow your skills, generate resume-worthy experience and feel good about helping out. You never know, you could make yourself invaluable and end up on the payroll!
Q: When and why did you join PRSA Georgia?
A: I had been on the periphery for years during my career in PR and marketing. I finally made the time to connect when I understood how my membership would benefit students. Not only could they join and learn and network, but the resources PRSA offers helped me to stay on top of what’s going on in the practice of PR and stay relevant in the classroom. My membership also introduces me to professionals who are willing to mentor and speak with students.
Q: Why is the PRSA Georgia Annual Conference so important and valuable for students?
A: The conference is important for several reasons. Best of all, in my opinion, it allows students to have a shared experience of connecting with a field of professionals. On campus, they are a small part of the overall student population. And, many people don’t understand what a career in communications or PR really entails. The conference is a day that opens their eyes to the fact that they are a part of an important, powerful group of professionals in a flourishing field.
It also allows them to hear the language of the profession outside of the classroom. When, for example, they hear practitioners utilizing strategies that we read about and discussed, they see the relevance of their education. And, it is an opportunity to network and perhaps land an internship or job. That’s the ultimate goal for these students.
Q: How can PRSSA students best tap into the PRSA Georgia Chapter and utilize its resources?
A: There is great unrealized opportunity here. PRSA has amazing members with profound experiences. There are hundreds of PRSSA students in Georgia, and right now, they are not as well connected as a group. Imagine the potential if the students across Georgia had the opportunity to network together, learn together and engage with relevant, student-focused content together? I know that PRSA Georgia is addressing this with a new committee focused on PRSSA Chapters, for which I stand ready to support.
Q: Where do you find creativity and inspiration?
A: In quiet. I read so much – academic journals, professional newsletters, content for the classroom; and engage with other professors and professionals so much that all of the information can be overwhelming. When I quiet my mind I can see possibilities and opportunities that were there all along, but I had to get out of the busyness to realize.
Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not working?
A: In the throes of COVID-19, very differently than before. I am seeking that “quiet” I mentioned earlier and finding it in yoga, meditation and outdoors. There is always work to do – but committing to focus on my family’s and my own mental and physical health is more important than ever.