Every new professional knows how hard it can be to get your foot in the door. RH Strategic’s Fellowship Program was designed to do exactly that: kickstart the careers of PR professionals — including me.

Three years ago, I was part of the 2019 Summer Fellowship cohort. This program provided me with foundational experience to build a career in PR. Today, I help run the Fellowship Program, in addition to driving several key client accounts. Without this program, I would not be where I am today, and many former fellows would say the same. I sat down with two of them to talk about the benefits of the fellowship program, the transition to full-time staff and their advice for those considering applying.

What was your favorite part of the fellowship program?

Lindsey Godbout: All the opportunities to learn from experts within the firm. The hands-on experiences, collaborative projects and weekly workshops emphasized in the program exposed me to best practices and provided me valuable knowledge.

Ryan Robledo: For me, it was the collaborative cohort project. I loved being able to take what I learned in school and from the fellowship and put it to work on a project that had all the fellows working together toward a common goal.

What skills did you learn in the fellowship that you did not get from your coursework in school?

LG: My undergraduate program at Syracuse University focused on public relations campaign planning, media research and messaging development skills. RH Strategic’s fellowship allowed me to execute on the types of materials we developed in the classroom and hone my real-world media relations skills. Seeing your idea come to fruition in a published piece is very exciting!

RR: Practical skills like media relations, organization, client communications, media monitoring and news jacking. A lot of the experience you gain in school can translate into your day-to-day work, but some skills are best learned through doing, such as learning how to connect with a reporter, staying on top of your client work in a fast-paced agency environment, engaging with clients and thinking of creative ways to insert them into trending news stories. These kinds of skills require real-world experience to develop.

How did the fellowship prepare you for working in PR full-time?

LG: The program served as an important steppingstone for me from college student to full-time PR professional. Most notably, the fellowship helped me to master professional communications skills, produce high-quality work and function effectively in a fast-paced environment.

RR: This fellowship puts you in the shoes of someone working in PR full-time and walks you through the process of starting your career. It offers numerous benefits, including guidelines on how to succeed, opportunities to learn from seasoned PR veterans and the chance to actively contribute to your client teams from day one.

What tips do you have for being successful in the fellowship program?

LG: Ask questions, offer ideas and volunteer to try new projects!

RR: Never be afraid to ask questions, no matter how silly the questions may seem! Everyone here wants to see each other succeed, especially our fellows.

What other advice do you have for new PR professionals looking to break into the industry?

LG: Keep an open mind when it comes to the types of clients and industries you’d like to work with in your career. Before the fellowship program, I never thought much about technology or cybersecurity policy. Now, I work heavily with clients in both areas and will even be pursuing a master’s degree in legislative affairs.

RR: Learn to connect with others in the industry. PR professionals love to communicate with each other and are more than happy to make connections and bring people together. Reaching out to people on LinkedIn can help you learn about new industries or even other aspects of PR you might want to pursue.

Interested in participating in our Fellowship Program? Apply for our summer 2022 fellowship.

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RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based PR agency with a nationwide presence and additional global reach via membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. We provide strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, government and healthcare markets.