Editor’s note: MG Coffee, the Yarbrough-Grady Public Relations Fellow for the spring 2020 semester, attended the annual PRSSA D.C. Agency Tour with other PRSSA members.
During the last week of January, 12 Grady students and PRSSA members, including myself traveled to Washington, D.C., for the annual PRSSA D.C. Agency Tour. The tour, led by Grady faculty members, Professor Joseph Watson, Jr. and Samantha Meyer, included visits to APCO Worldwide, Edelman, Powell Tate, National Geographic and the Office of Senator David Perdue.
Through office tours, round table discussions, company overviews and Q&A sessions with employees, this trip offered students an exclusive inside look into the agencies’ cultures. For many students, D.C. is the end goal post-graduation. This trip allowed those students to experience the city and get a feel for what day-to-day life there looks like.
At the end of the tour, we all had the opportunity to shadow an agency or organization that interested us and aligned with our future career goals.
“The trip gave us a holistic view of the communications industry, as we were able to visit public affairs agencies, government offices and non-profit organizations,” said student, Claire Gordon. “After experiencing each interest area, I have a better understanding of where my passions and skills are most applicable. I am so grateful to our advisers, Samantha Meyer and Joe Watson, for organizing this trip.”
On the first day, we visited APCO Worldwide where we spoke with a number of employees and specialists about the company’s mission, collaborative environment and entry level program, APCO+. Overall, the meetings educated us on the different specialties within the agency and how much work goes into each client’s case.
Later that day, we visited Senator David Perdue’s Office at the U.S. Senate and spoke with Grady alumna, Jenni Sweat (ABJ ’17). Currently Senator Perdue’s Deputy Press Secretary, Sweat shared with us what led her to D.C. and how she has grown professionally since graduating. Following the visit, we were led on a tour of the Capitol.
The next day, our first visit was Powell Tate/Weber Shandwick where we watched a case study presentation and listened to a panel of past interns talk about their experience and advancement in the company. After, we attended an information session at Edelman and learned about the different sectors their D.C. office specializes in.
That evening, we were able to network at the Grady Alumni Mixer in D.C. This special opportunity, set up by Grady College, allowed us to speak with former, now experienced Grady graduates about how they have excelled in their careers and how we can best position ourselves in D.C.
To finish the trip, we each were assigned an agency or organization to shadow. This opportunity allowed us to expand on our previous agency visits and see a more in-depth view of what agency life entails.
“Being able to shadow at an agency was a perfect ending to the trip,” said student, Nell Warnock. “I had the opportunity to get a glimpse into the daily operations of Scott Circle Communications, a small agency founded by a former Grady Dawg, Laura Gross (ABJ ’95). After sitting in on a few client calls, I was offered great career advice from multiple staff members. I loved having the chance to see the inner workings of an agency and hope to keep those connections as I move forward with my job search.”
This year was the 11th anniversary of the tour, and we, as students, are grateful for the continued tradition and effort that goes into planning it every year.
“I’m so thankful that PRSSA offers its members so many unique opportunities to network and shadow in the field of public relations” said PRSSA president and program participant, Emma Crosby. “The D.C. agency tour was by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career, and I left D.C. with a renewed love for PR and communications.”