Where does a successful career in Public Relations begin? More importantly, where does it go from there? These are questions that can be answered by recent college graduate and Public Relations professional Jennifer Villamil.
Villamil is a 2008 graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. She majored in Journalism & Public Relations there with a minor in Pastoral Ministry, although that was not the original plan. Villamil says, “I actually stumbled across this University in looking through an Assemblies of God magazine at my church. At first [I was] interested in pursuing Pastoral Ministry but then decided to go with Public Relations because of my passion for it.”
This passion stemmed from Villamil being a self-proclaimed “planner by nature.” She recalls researching careers as a junior in high school and realizing that Public Relations was the one that fit her personality the most. She says, “Talking to people, planning, writing, reading, were all things I enjoyed so I was determined to major in something I would enjoy doing and also something that could be weaved into ministry.” Fortunately, Public Relations fits the bill on all of those accounts.
After choosing Public Relations as a major and future vocation, Villamil became a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and remains a member to this day. Of the association, she says, “It’s a great organization that provides tools, resources, and tons of networking opportunities in the industry, and I highly recommend it.”
Villamil’s first internship came from a small Public Relations boutique called Green Olive Media, located in Atlanta, Georgia, which she completed after her first semester in college. She comments on the internship saying, “It was one of the best first-hand experiences I had because I literally did a little bit of everything. It wasn’t the stereotypical intern position that made coffee and ran errands. I was in all client meetings, wrote, researched, and built great industry relationships.”
A few short years after that, Villamil received her first official job in Public Relations, while she was still attending Southeastern, as a Public Relations coordinator for a magazine based out of Miami, Florida. She wanted to work in the field as much as she possibly could throughout her college career, both through the University and freelance projects. She adds, “Books can only teach so much, hands-on experience is always better and the most relevant.”
Today, Villamil works for Porter Novelli, an international Public Relations agency, in their Ft. Lauderdale, Florida office as an Account Executive. She currently serves on a team that develops and implements communications efforts for clients based out of Latin America. She further explains her job as “anything from writing and distributing press releases, managing media relation efforts, research, creative brainstorming, and essentially making sure the client is represented and communicated to consumers in the most effective way.”
So far in her career, Villamil says she has encountered “many great moments,” but her greatest accomplishment was her involvement with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), when she was asked to “develop a campaign that would cater to doctors, parents, and organizations that would teach and inform them on how to communicate the child development process.” Of the experience, Villamil says, “Seeing the results and our target audience (parents) testify of how helpful and life-changing the campaign materials were made all the hard work worth it.”
Like any Public Relations professional, Villamil says that no day in the field is the same as the day before. She adds, “Literally every day I’m doing something different with the exception of some consistent tasks that we provide for our clients such as writing a daily or weekly newsletter or providing a weekly status e-mail on major projects.”
At the end of the day, this rewarding, hectic, and sometimes unpredictable job is exactly what Villamil wants to be doing. Although she may get out of the corporate setting one day, and take on a Public Relations role for a church or non-profit organization, she is exactly where she belongs. Villamil says, “I definitely see myself working in Public Relations forever.” Having said that, confidence and assurance, as well as harboring a genuinely optimistic attitude are clearly three things that this Public Relations professional excels at.