The Word

about Centennial’s Corporate Communications + PR program

Archive for December, 2008

Grad feels she made the right choice

Posted by bwaite on December 18, 2008

by Mackenzie Keller, Class of 2009

Avril Henry did not initially see herself working in public relations, but after more than 10 years in the field, she is certain she made the right career choice.

scottmissionHenry, the Director of Public Relations at the Scott Mission, began her post-secondary education in a college journalism program, but decided quickly that journalism was not for her.  “I realized I wanted to do more than just writing,” she says.  So, with a love for writing, as well as variety, she decided to enrol in Centennial’s Corporate Communications program.

Since graduating in 1997, Henry has done exactly what she hoped to do – work on many different types of projects in a wide range of sectors.  For the last three-and-a-half years she’s worked in PR for the Scott Mission, a not-for-profit organization, after working in other sectors such as PR agencies and health care

She “sort of fell into” working for a not-for-profit and ended up really enjoying it.  “The not-for-profit sector is well-rounded and exposes you to a lot more than a lot of for-profit companies.  Because they’re often so small, you get to develop your skills and experience so much more,” she says.

Her work during a typical day at the Scott Mission is very diverse.  “I do everything from writing ad copy, writing press releases, pitching features and doing donor communications, to interviewing people about how the Scott Mission has helped them,”

This grad attributes much of her success and ability to be flexible in her career to the training she received at Centennial.  “It’s a well-rounded program that provides a really good foundation … the skills are interchangeable and the fundamentals never change,” she says.

While working in public relations was not her initial career goal, Avril Henry is very happy with her decision to study public relations.  “I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she says.

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Successful internship led to fulltime work

Posted by bwaite on December 1, 2008

Grad Colleen Uncao

Grad Colleen Uncao

by Jo Nicholson, Class of 2009

Colleen Uncao graduated from Centennial College’s Corporate Communications and Public Relations program in 2005. She would not be where she is today without the program’s eight-week Field Placement course that she describes as an “attractive feature that allows you to gain hands-on experience.”

Uncao hasn’t looked back since her field placement completed at Maverick PR, an independent, mid-size agency located in the Annex area of Toronto. When she finished the placement, she was offered a full-time position as an account coordinator—exactly what many students dream of.

She is now a consultant on the consumer team and works on behalf of notable clients such as Balmshell, Miele and Evian.

Although she is very happy with her career’s progress, Uncao admitted she was hesitant to work at a PR agency during her Centennial days. “During our classes, we networked with different people who worked at agencies,” she said.  “It sounded like they were glued to their desks and working crazy hours. I was definitely worried.”

Uncao was encouraged to apply for the Field Placement at Maverick PR. She now knows that the experiences she gained were invaluable. “At bigger agencies, you’re just doing media monitoring and administrative duties,” she said. “At Maverick, with about 30 employees,  interns have more guidance and do many different things.”

For example, she compiled media lists and scored a media hit only two weeks into her internship. She attributes her past, and present, successes to the skills she learned at Centennial, such as learning to write for the media and presentation skills.

Writing and presenting remain instrumental parts of her career today. “I still use inverted pyramid style when I write press releases,” she said. “The presentation skills really helped me gain confidence talking to people and pitching to clients,” she said.

Uncao originally intended to pursue a career at a corporation and feels like a mid-size agency is a great choice for an internship. Why? “If you’ve start out in a corporate atmosphere, it’s difficult to go from that to an agency,” she said. “You’re used to having that buzz around you. It’s manageable but a little chaotic at times.”

Being busy at a PR agency is a perfect fit for Uncao. She continues to thrive at Maverick and enjoys a variety of projects. “I always feel like I’m learning a lot,” she said.

Her advice for students in the program: “Being scared isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means you’re being challenged.”

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