Avoiding a career crisis: Former Grady College Yarbrough Crisis Fellows share wisdom

Avoiding a career crisis: Former Grady College Yarbrough Crisis Fellows share wisdom

February 23, 2023

LEVICK, a public relations firm that specializes in crisis communications, hired two former Grady College Yarbrough Crisis Communication Fellows: Maria Stagliano (AB ‘19), who has been with the company for four years, and Morgan Ford (AB ‘22), who joined the company this past fall. Following a conversation with the two Grady grads about their experience post-graduation, Stagliano and Ford urged graduating students to listen to their gut before jumping into a career they aren’t certain about. Looking back on their time at the University of Georgia and in their early careers, Ford and Stagliano provided valuable wisdom for students aspiring to work in the field of crisis communication.

Stagliano and Ford agree that what drew them to crisis communication was the desire to make an impact with a sense of excitement and fulfillment in their work. Every day is unpredictable and brings on a new challenge, they say. Working in such an ever-changing industry serves as a way to gain knowledge about many different fields. It encourages versatility and requires the ability to quickly adapt. Stagliano said, “I wanted a job that was about problem solving and critical thinking. I was really looking for something that would not make life after college boring.” Both Stagliano and Ford expressed that no day is the same when working in crisis communication, making it a career that consistently keeps them on their toes.

Stagliano noted that the exposure she got from industry professionals at UGA’s Crisis Communication Think Tank (CCTT) was extremely beneficial for creating connections and dipping her toe into the world of crisis communication research and practice. Stagliano fondly described her CCTT internship experience, saying she appreciated “getting the chance to even just sit in and listen to practitioners discuss their backgrounds, expertise and stories and make those connections too.” She appreciated that she “could just grab somebody’s LinkedIn information and have a conversation with them” to expand their individual networks. She referenced Grady College’s phenomenal program for providing her with strong writing skills that she utilizes every day in her current career.

For seniors nearing graduation, Ford stressed the importance of exploring all avenues before landing on a job. She urges graduating students to not feel pressure to have the perfect job right away. Ford left her first job after only a week once she had a gut feeling telling her to quit. She encourages graduating seniors to not take a job simply because it’s their first official offer, but instead wait to find a position that feels right. Ford said, “Take your time, when the right job comes, you’ll know.” It took time for Ford to find the right fit, “Now that I’m at LEVICK, I know that this is who I am, what I want to do and who I want to be from now on.”

“It is wonderful to see our Yarbrough Crisis Communication Fellows move seamlessly into crisis communication practice, a role that is typically held by senior professionals,” said Dr. Yan Jin, CCTT director and co-founder. “We thank the CCTT members, including Richard Levick, for mentoring our students and offering career development opportunities.”

Both crisis communications professionals reiterated how normal it is to feel imposter syndrome post-graduation. Ford emphasized the importance of taking the time to get to know oneself personally and professionally in order to gain the confidence to excel. Stagliano said, “You are new and young, clearly out of college, and everybody knows that the whole point is you’re supposed to be learning, supposed to be a sponge absorbing everything you can.” In other words, it is okay to feel out of place at first — in fact, it’s normal — but, with experience comes confidence. UGA has provided students with the foundation they need to have outstanding careers. That should provide upcoming graduates with a level of comfort to take on their careers with passion and poise.

The authors of this piece, Emily Alexander and Emma Stefanik, are current Yarbrough Crisis Fellows.