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By Mark A. Alvarez II
NEW YORK — Seeking to make a mark in the world capital of media, Bobcat Promotions, Texas State University’s student-run public relations firm, took its fourth annual trip to New York City this past January.
Twelve young practitioners were given the opportunity to broaden their PR perspectives by engaging in numerous professionals at top PR firms, museums and the United Nations.
BPR Executive Director Kristen Torrez, a senior, explained that visiting the Big Apple was both a personal milestone and a professional development opportunity.
The Jan. 10-14 trip was Torrez’s first New York visit. She was surprised that it was not as overwhelming as she anticipated. “I thought visiting firms in New York would be intimidating, but actually it gave me more confidence once I got there,” Torrez said. “There was a lot going on, of course, but it was exhilarating. It made me want to jump in and tackle challenges alongside leading PR professionals.”
For Vanessa Mora, public relations senior and a BPR account executive, this trip to New York, not her first, would provide an opportunity for professional growth.
“I have been to New York before,” Mora said. “Quite a few times in fact, but this was the first time I could experience New York with the capacity as a young PR professional. I have always had a firm grasp on the types of firms I would want to work for, but this was a world I never could have imagined. This trip completely raised my expectations and redefined the professional goals I had for myself.”
In its fourth year, the New York trip, created and organized by adviser Chuck Kaufman, continued the tradition of attending a mixer of Texas State mass communication alumni at the host Park Central Hotel, where they welcomed 10 alumni, including Christopher Henry of Edelman and Maira Garcia of The New York Times.
The students got to dig into a variety of subjects from their professional development to simply surviving the hustle and high cost of living in New York City.
The leap from the cozy college life of San Marcos to the bright lights of New York is quite a transition.
Mondy Hobbs, former BPR Account Executive, is now working for Weber Shandwick in New York. “She’s been living in New York City for six months now,” said Danielle Martinez, PR senior and Bobcat Promotions Website Manager. “So, seeing her there made me feel like making the big move is possible.”
Edelman’s Henry advised fellow Bobcats on ways that he believes helped him land a job in the big city. He cleverly sought out a temporary phone with a New York area code so that employers would think he was from New York, he told Torrez.
Actually, Henry is from New York but moved to Houston with his family at an early age. “He thought if he had a New York area code he would be more likely to get hired, and he did. He thinks that was a big part of it,” she said. Of course, Henry was a huge talent for BPR and as an Honors College graduate as well at Texas State.
Apart from getting to network with Texas State alumni, the Bobcat Promotions team got the opportunity to speak with the communications director of the 911 Memorial and Museum, attend a media briefing at the United Nations and visit some of the world’s largest and most prestigious public relations firms.
“I still can’t believe that we had the privilege to sit it on a media briefing led by Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the secretary general at the UN headquarters,” Martinez said. “We got to listen in on real life situations during a live teleconference with a UN official in Mosul. I wouldn’t have been able to read or know about such events until it was carried by international media the very next day. I mean, how crazy is that?”
“Along with the briefing, we had the privilege of touring the magnificent and historic headquarters, from the general assembly hall to the security council. The institution is so full of history, diversity and human rights. It was truly a remarkable experience.”
These Bobcats experienced an unforgettable experience that not only provided insight into the professional world beyond college, but also an experience that would inspire them to follow their own vision within an ever-changing world of mass communication.
Taylor Carfield, a senior and PRSSA social media coordinator, said, “Visiting the 911 Memorial and Museum was by far one of the most somber experiences of my life. We spoke with the communications director and my biggest take away was that in representing the museum and memorial, people’s lives and families were very hurt and torn apart by these events, and the director explained that as a communicator we need to practice doing our job with the utmost sensitivity when dealing with such a tragedy.”
These kinds of insights gave the students a redefined sense of understanding of media and media relations and their place in it.
“After the trip, I felt more motivated to reach for the stars in all aspects of my life, including Bobcat Promotions,” Carfield said. “This trip really taught me to be confident and that if I want something, I can work hard enough to get it.”
After meetings, the students explored the full menu of the exciting opportunities and hustle of the city — the museums, restaurants, theater, Times Square, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the subway system and shopping. By all accounts, there were no shortages of lifetime memories.
“The trip never fails to achieve its mission of developing students professionally,” Kaufman, BPR adviser, said. “Students return to Texas fully charged to take on the world. They are more than simply motivated; they’re inspired. And that’s very gratifying not only for them but for me as a faculty member.”