AdPR Week alumni profile: Elizabeth Howard (ABJ ’15)

In honor of AdPR Week, we are profiling five Grady College alumni who are using their Grady education in the creative industries they serve. These individuals provide a positive influence on our current students so that after graduation, they will also prosper in their selected fields. For other alumni profiles, please see: Elizabeth Elmore (ABJ ’08), Jason Kreher (ABJ ’00) and Melissa Libby (ABJ ’85).

Elizabeth Howard, a 2015 public relations alumnus of Grady College, is now working for Lockheed Martin in its Communications Leadership Development Program. The CLDP is an intensive two-year rotational program that introduces participants to the world of corporate communications and allows them to gain experience in the fields of media relations, marketing, employee communications and community relations in preparation for future leadership roles. During her years as an undergraduate student, Howard interned with Michele Turner at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education, Taste of Athens, and The Reynold’s Group. She is a former writer for the Red & Black and held organizational leadership positions with PRSSA and Shop with a Bulldawg.

Grady College:  What skills did you learn in your Grady courses that have helped you become successful in the Lockheed Martin program?

Elizabeth Howard:  From the first day of my education at Grady College to my last day, I never stopped learning. My professors provided me with the tactical skills that are imperative to succeed in my program and all communication fields. However, the most important skill Grady taught me is simply an attitude of paying it forward. At the end of the day, it’s not how many published articles or awards line your office that matter, but it’s the relationships that you have built along the way. Grady College fosters a culture of paying it forward, and it’s seen through professors holding office hours to edit your resume and alumni grabbing a coffee with you to help with an upcoming interview. The greatest thing Grady provided me was a family that is energized in helping one another.

GC:  What are some of your everyday duties with the Lockheed Martin Leadership Program?

EH:  As cliché as it may sound, my job is different every single day. The Lockheed Martin Communications Leadership Development provides me with a large scope into the communication world. The program is broken down into one year of internal communications and one year of external communications, so I have the opportunity to see the array of possibilities that corporate communications has to offer. I am in my internal rotation where I currently work with human resources for employee communications, executive communications, and community outreach. I perform traditional public relations duties, but also have the opportunity to broaden my abilities by learning untraditional tactics in real time. Next year, I move to external communications to work on our Space System Company and its out-of-this-world products through media outlet support.

GC: After graduating, what were some of your biggest challenges while entering the job field?

EH: Transitioning to the “real world” is hard in general, and often times we don’t have conversations around this transition, because once we graduate from college we are supposed to have it all together, right? I moved to a new city and started a new job within one month of graduating, and though I don’t regret it one bit, there have been some really trying times where I long for the days I would get out of class and could take a nap. It’s an exhausting process learning to be alert every day in the work place, creating new friends and maintaining old friendships, taking care of dry cleaning (it was a total sticker shock the first time I did that!) and then having to go home to cook dinner. I have never fully appreciated Rachel Ray’s 30-Minute-Meals until now. Transitioning to a new lifestyle is hard, but the great part is that no one is alone in the process. We can all laugh together about how this is the third night in a row for Chinese takeout leftovers.

GC: What are some concepts or skills you would consider essentials for AdPR students to grasp before they graduate?

EH: If I said the most important thing you could do is learn how to write well, would you roll your eyes at me? I never thought I would be that alumnus that comes back to students to say that, but here I am back to shout it from the rooftops. It’s not just knowing how to write well, but it’s knowing how to be adaptable in your writing. On a daily basis I switch from blog writing style to tight memo writing, so I would encourage every AdPR students to gain as much diverse writing experience as possible. On top of that, find someone who will genuinely critique you. Find someone that loves the red pen and isn’t afraid to use it.

Date: September 30, 2015