Senior Spotlight: Hayley Keen, Payton St. Lawrence & Rhiannon Wilson

by Juliana Dellamarggio
Photo of Rhiannon Wilson, Payton St .Lawrence, and Hayley Keen
Pictured from left to right: Rhiannon Wilson, Payton St. Lawrence, Hayley Keen

This semester, not one, two, but three Harrington School seniors – Hayley Keen, Payton St. Lawrence, and Rhiannon Wilson – interned at the local PR agency, Caster Communications,  completing various duties for tech and smart home clients.

I sat down with them and asked them to reflect on their internship experience and time in the Harrington School.

 

Q: Can you start off by telling me what majors/minors you will have upon graduation from the Harrington School?

Hayley – I am a Public Relations major with a minor in General Business. 

Payton – I am a Public Relations major with a Business minor.

Rhiannon – I am a double major in Public Relations and Communication Studies with a minor in Leadership Studies.

Q: Have you had any other internships before interning with Caster?

H – Caster Communications was my first internship and my first exposure to working in PR. I also interned in NYC at Weill Cornell Medicine the summer after my junior year as a Social Media Intern. Caster gave me the tools to understand what working in the PR industry was like.

P – I interned in the marketing and communications department at an insurance company running social media.

R – Before Caster, I interned at Schneider Electric as a North America Channel Marketing Intern last summer into the fall.

Q: Why did you decide to intern with Caster?

H – I knew Caster was an office of hard-working, diligent professionals and I was excited to work alongside this team and learn from them. I was tasked with a large research project where I researched contacts and built a media list for a client’s event. This was supposed to be a one-time project, but then that project turned into additional work until I was ultimately a part-time member of their team. I knew that the trust the team had in me was something I should hold onto and work with.

P – I spoke with Hayley and realized it was a step into the PR firm world while staying local. I also knew I needed to learn more about PR before I graduated because real world experience is the best way to learn.

R – I decided to intern at Caster because I wanted to see how a PR firm works and operates compared to in-house marketing and PR. I also liked how they were a small, local firm with a woman founder.

Q: What does a day look like for you at Caster?

H – Each day at Caster is different. I come into work ready to take on any tasks that my team has for me. Some days I conduct research on a client to use for a press release, draft social media for Caster and client accounts, and add contacts to media lists. Other days I am building out editorial calendars, writing blogs, and finding awards opportunities for clients.

P – I start off by doing daily research like looking for pitching opportunities, technology trends, and client mentions. Then, I have a list of tasks to complete, which include pitching media, compiling media lists, and social media creation and engagement. A lot of research really goes into my everyday work at Caster.

R – A normal day at Caster begins with daily research of our clients and their industry and competitors. Then I refer to my to-do list.

Q: How has the Harrington School helped you prepare for this internship?

H – The Harrington School gave me the drive to go forward and get this internship. After being in contact with the founder of Caster, Kimberly Lancaster, about a babysitting job, I reached out to ask her for an informational interview. The Harrington School introduced me to networking, communication skills, and the foundations of PR that helped me turn an informational interview into a four-semester long internship.

P – PR writing classes like PRS 320 (Strategic Media Relations) and PRS/WRT 331 (Writing Public Relations) have been really helpful with learning how to write pitches and press releases. Communications classes like COM 202 (Public Speaking) have also helped me learn to feel comfortable talking to my boss and team. PRS 300 (Social Media Strategies) also gave me a background in social media that I use every day.

R – The most notable courses that I’ve taken that have helped with this internship include PRS/WRT 331 and JOR 341 (Editing for Publication). Both courses taught me AP Style writing, proper grammar, headline writing, and editing. In my PR writing class we practiced pitches, press releases, and social media posts.

Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ll take away from your time at the Harrington School?

H – The most important lesson I’ve learned is to always push yourself. Join clubs, be involved, and apply for internships on and off campus. College is your time to build up who you are before you go out into the career world and the Harrington School allowed me to truly do this. By connecting with advisors, professors, administratives, and my peers – I gained the skills to network and be involved, and I will take that with me when I go out into the workforce.

P – One thing I’ve learned is that networking is very important, as well as learning how to work in a fast-paced environment because that’s how PR is. Another thing I learned is to always improve my writing skills.

R – The most important lesson I’ve learned in my experience with the Harrington School is that learning and success are indispensable to each other. To find success in your field, you have to be open-minded and flexible. Communications and PR is ever-changing and expanding so after college, you must do your own studying by staying current on the news and reading books.

Q: What advice do you have for incoming freshman in the Harrington School?

H – My advice is to look for internships as soon as you can. Whether it is a small, 5-hour-a-week social media position on campus, or a 20-hour part-time agency gig – get involved! These opportunities will let you apply everything that the Harrington School is teaching you and will build your resume from the start. The Harrington School has every resource necessary to find these opportunities and connect with professionals.

P – Take all opportunities you can get for internships and clubs. Also, take elective classes that interest you. Immerse yourself in the work because you will be using it someday in the real world like I actually use the writing skills I learned in my classes in my internship.

R – My advice for incoming freshman is to find as many experiences on or off campus as possible. Internships, jobs, volunteer work, involvement on campus – and try to make them all in different focuses. This will help you find what you like, what you’re best at, and what you’re passionate about. Ask other students, faculty/staff, and alumni about different ways to get involved and start networking early!

Q: Any plans for after graduation yet?

H – Right now I am still searching for a job in NYC. After meeting with a boss from my previous internship, I am working with her to perfect my resume and reach out to her contacts. I hope to work in NYC at an in-house PR department.

P – Not yet. I am really still looking around to find where I want to go but I definitely want to work at a firm in Rhode Island.

R – I have recently accepted a position as a Social Media Specialist at Schneider Electric.