The plane truth leads to a career in PR
Shannon Mitchell, Artsci’09, had a strange inspiration for her career. She decided to go into public relations after her boyfriend told her about a stranger he had enjoyed talking with on a plane.
Shannon, an English and Drama major at Queen’s, was still trying to find the right career direction when she had a “Eureka! moment” after hearing about the stranger’s career and about opportunities in public relations.
“I went on from Queen’s and did my public relations certificate at Humber College, and from there completed my two-month internship. Within two weeks I was hired at Hill and Knowlton, one of Canada’s largest PR agencies,” she says.
Shannon feels her Queen’s experience helped prepare her for this career. She gained management experience working at the AMS-run Publishing and Copy Centre, which helped her build a portfolio of professional skills. “Not only do people love that I know how to use a photocopier,” she laughs, “but it also really helped me in a lot of job interviews to say that I had the experience of managing a staff of 40.”
But her experience acting in Queen’s Players has been especially useful.
”You’re used to performing under such different and difficult situations. You’ve got an audience that’s so hard to control. And you’ve got to keep going and know when you’re losing them and how to get them back,” she explains. “I think that in PR that plays a big part because we’re always talking to the media and we want them to talk (positively) about our clients. We’ve got to be able to learn when they’re losing interest and how to get them back.”
It’s no surprise that Shannon does some “unofficial PR” for her alma mater. Her great memories of her Queen’s experience lead her to recommend the University to others.
What made my time at Queen’s great was going outside my department and really taking advantage of all the opportunities, like being able to find a job on campus, like all the clubs you can join,” she recalls. “It’s really nice to be able to meet people outside of your year, outside of your major, and to form a lot of bonds with those people.”