Chelsey Maszczyk's love for experiencing new cultures will kick-start her degree in communication studies. Maszczyk hopes to find a career where her major and coursework can complement each other. This go-getter is ready to use her creativity and dive into the professional world, but first, building her resume is essential. This part is where the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America comes into play.
As a newcomer to ISU PRSSA, Maszczyk is taking advantage of all of the opportunities the organization offers. Public relations is a newfound passion for the senior, so joining ISU PRSSA was a natural decision for her. Maszczyk joined the development committee this year. She has enjoyed brainstorming when it comes to socials and fundraisers. Maszczyk knows these event planning experiences will help her in her professional career.
Maszczyk interned with the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company in Oakbrook, Ill. She worked with a number of different departments within the company, but primarily focused her work in the information technology area. She was able to thoroughly understand what keeps the business running.
This senior has also studied abroad in Paris, a memory she will cherish for the rest of her life. Spending the summer with young professionals and testing her intercultural communication skills was an amazing opportunity. The most important takeaway from the trip was learning how to connect with others who have a completely different cultural background. Maszczyk is planning a trip back to Paris in the future, and she is nothing but excited.
Always willing to try new things, Maszczyk has one suggestion for students, and that is to network. After hearing the word “network” a million times as a student in the School of Communication, she has taken that advice as a challenge. She has learned that others are willing to help you if you show them determination and hard work.
Maszczyk has a unique personality and is full of surprises. She loves music and has been singing and playing cello since she was little. In her free time, she loves drawing and painting. Maszczyk is a huge family girl. Living with her parents, older sister, grandfather, and five pets is a blast. If she could go anywhere in the world, she would visit Poland. A rich family history lies within that country; Poland is where her grandparents grew up.
Although she regrets not joining ISU PRSSA before her senior year, the friends and opportunities it has provided her have aided in Maszcyk’s growth as a professional.
By Cindy Kirchner
Determination and hard work helped Yessenia Nunez become the first member of her family to go to college-- and upon graduation in December her hard work will materialize. Upon transferring to Illinois State University last year from Illinois Valley Community College, Nunez continued learning all she could about public relations and joined the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Nunez says that being a public relations major has taught her the importance of not procrastinating and staying organized. Nunez said, “I like that I have options, and I have always imagined myself in the busy world of public relations.”
Nunez also remarked on the benefits of joining PRSSA. “ISU PRSSA has so many opportunities, and I really enjoy the times we all laugh together and can relax. It is nice to be able to have a laugh and meet new people.” Nunez went on to say that the most important thing she has learned from ISU PRSSA and attending ISU has been to not compare herself to others, but rather to always work at her own pace and be proud of what she can do.
When she is not doing school work or participating in ISU PRSSA, Nunez takes it upon herself to explore opportunities outside of ISU’s campus, such as volunteering at the Humane Society of Central Illinois, which she visits once a week. “I do whatever they ask me to do. I clean, do laundry, and walk the dogs. Some jobs are not so glamorous, like cleaning the kitten room, but I do get to play with the animals afterward.”
Nunez says that her biggest motivation to keep an open mind and take on all the opportunities presented to her is her family. “I am the first person in my entire family to graduate from college, so that is really exciting for us. I have three younger brothers who have been my ultimate motivation.” When asked about what she hopes to accomplish in the field of public relations, Nunez said, “I hope to do something with event planning, so I can take my excellent organizations skills to any job I land.”
Even with the life-changing event of graduation approaching quickly, Nunez stays grounded. When asked to describe herself in three words, Nunez simply said, “Hardworking, goofy, and an old-soul.” She then explained, “Hardworking: I’m the first of my family to go to college, and I take it very seriously. I go to school full time, work part time, volunteer, and then there are the endless hours of homework. Goofy: I love making people laugh and getting a reaction so I will do anything and probably wear anything to make others laugh. I worked at an ice cream parlor for seven years, and three summers in a row I dressed up as an ice cream cone and danced outside with a dancing chocolate sundae and a banana.” And lastly, “Old-Soul: I’m not the average 21-year-old. I love everything antique, and when I hang out with my friends, staying in is my favorite.”
Interview by Chloe Kasper
Michelle Czosnyka is an exemplary public relations major who is an active leader on campus. Czosnyka transferred to Illinois State University last year as a junior and will be graduating in May. She first heard of the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America for her “Get Involved Project” in COM 178: Introduction to Public Relations. After learning more about ISU PRSSA, she became a dues-paying member to take advantage of all the opportunities the organization has to offer.
Besides her involvement with ISU PRSSA, Czosnyka is involved with Students Today Leaders Forever, a service organization that is student led and funded. Over spring break, she is attending a service trip called the Pay it Forward Tour. She is leading a bus with four other students as they travel to seven cities in nine days to do various service projects. Czosnyka strongly believes in giving back through the little things that we are capable of doing.
Czosnyka also stays busy as an intern for ISU’s athletics communications department. She has worked work on projects for ISU sports teams. Her favorite memories from this internship are being on the football field during a game and the first kickoff of the season.
Upon graduation in May, she would love to continue working in sports and possibly work for a public relations agency managing sports related clients. Her internship opportunity at ISU has helped Czosnyka feel capable and ready to pursue a career in sports.
Not only does Czosnyka find motivation from her internship with athletics communications, but also from her family. She is thankful for everything her parents have done for her and wants to prove that she is deserving of her degree. Czosnyka is a very self-motivated individual that will not have opportunities handed to her but earn them every step of the way.
Czosnyka described her approach to life in a quote by Winston Churchill:
“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.”
Czosnyka is a caring and giving individual who not only wants to pursue her dreams, but also gives back along the way and shows she truly does live for something.
Interview by Alex Danko
Michael Capriotti, a senior public relations major from Tinley Park, Ill., recently joined the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. He had heard nothing but positive things about the organization and wanted to take advantage of the opportunities it provides. Capriotti’s dream job upon graduation in May is to be a pharmaceutical sales representative based out of Chicago, and he is already on his way to doing just that.
Over the summer, Capriotti interned with Astellas, a Chicago-based pharmaceutical sales company. Capriotti said that the internship made him want to pursue a career in pharmaceuticals, and he was offered a job opportunity after graduation. This internship experience is not the only thing that has prepared him to enter the work force. Capriotti credits his preparedness to his experiences at ISU in the School of Communication as well.
“My communication professors have influenced me the most. They have taught me so much. Not just lessons in the classroom, but life lessons that will make me a better individual in all aspects. I am so proud to say that I am graduating from an institution that shaped me into who I am,” said Capriotti.
There is a personal side to Capriotti that has shaped him as well. Capriotti loves wrestling and passes this love onto younger individuals by helping out with wrestling programs. Growing up in a family of five has helped shape him into the individual he is today. Capriotti says that his family is what truly inspires and motivates him in life.
“My parents, Bob and Marcia, are my inspiration. They have taught me integrity, respect, and all my basic morals. They have shown me what it means to be a part of a close family. I also look up to my older brother, Ryan, who is a school teacher. My twin sister, Michele, is autistic. My parents have not only devoted their lives to my brother and I, but also to raising my sister. She inspires me every day to take advantage of the opportunities I have,” said Capriotti.
This young man has a heart of gold and makes ISU PRSSA proud to have him as a new member.
Interview by Alex Danko
Davonte Longmire is a senior public relations major with a bright future. Longmire joined the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America after learning that his friends were a part of the organization. He quickly became involved in ISU PRSSA in order to learn more about public relations.
Longmire loves to draw and has taken multiple art courses. He is a visual person and loves designing and creating art, which made him the perfect fit for the graphic design team. Longmire produces graphics for the socials planned by the development committee. This position developed his time management skills and taught him how to effectively target audiences to attend events through visual communication.
Previously, Longmire served as an event coordinating intern for Voice of the City, a theatre company in Chicago. Voice of the City provided him the opportunity to manage a group of young adults who produced performance pieces and organize and promote them by reaching out to organizations in the community.
Longmire also had the opportunity to study abroad last year. The Novancia Program in Paris was an experience Longmire will never forget. He has also studied in South Africa and believes that going abroad has helped him appreciate the importance of global education and communicating openly.
During his time here at ISU, Longmire wishes he would have been a part of Up Late at State or the University Programming Board. He admires these strong organizations because they produce amazing advertising and their events are very organized.
Longmire’s inspiration is his grandmother. She taught him so much; how to sew and knit, and a great deal about fashion. He sees himself and her as the same person in terms of spirit. Longmire loves his family very much and hopes that as he grows older he will not grow apart from his family.
Post-graduation, Longmire hopes to attend graduate school. The inspiration he gets from his family will motivate Longmire to succeed in his graduate school endeavors, the public relations world, and in life.
By Cindy Kirchner
Abbie O’Ryan’s love for adventure and willingness to take every opportunity given to her has been her secret for success while studying at Illinois State University. This second semester senior can graduate knowing she has accomplished that for which all students aim. She’s experienced great internship opportunities, held leadership positions, and made life-long connections, all while maintaining a respectable GPA.
O’Ryan is a public relations major with a minor in business administration who joined the Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter at ISU during the second semester of her freshman year. She began her involvement in ISU PRSSA’s student-run firm, PRogressive Image, where she worked with several clients including Chill Out Yogurt, City Dance, and Christmas Without Cancer. O’Ryan mentioned that working with City Dance was one of the best experiences she has had in college. Outside of ISU PRSSA, O’Ryan is an active member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, where she has gained valuable leadership experience by holding the positions of property coordinator, Greek Week chair, and most recently, chapter president. O’Ryan stays busy by also working with the Vidette, ISU’s student newspaper, as social media manager, and is a member of the Undergraduate Writing Research Program and Alternative Spring Break.
To better prepare for a successful career in the public relations industry, O’Ryan has interned with Figel Public Relations in Chicago, where she worked with clients March 4 Meg, Special Olympics Illinois, Lagunitas Brewing Company, and Leo High School, and was given the opportunity to write for Patch.com. O’Ryan studied abroad in Canterbury, England as a junior, where she was able to visit 11 countries in Europe. This semester, she is interning with Palace Events in Bloomington, Ill., and says she is, “Excited to gain experience in yet another area of the public relations industry.”
O’Ryan’s professional advice to those looking to get their feet wet in the public relations industry is that it is never too early or too late to get started or involved. She encourages freshmen and sophomores to reach out to peers and make connections early; if they are willing to work hard, there are plenty of opportunities for them at ISU.
O’Ryan’s post-graduate plan is to join Target as an executive team leader in June. When asked about her time at ISU, O’Ryan said, “The Public Relations program and ISU PRSSA have done more to prepare me for the real world than I ever could have imagined. I am so grateful to have had such amazing teachers and peers with whom to work. As a high school senior, ISU was not my top choice college. Now as a college senior, I realize how lucky I am to have ended up here, and I wouldn't change it for the world.”
Interview by Kimi Sanden
If not a public relations major, then why is first semester senior, Adam King, a member of the Illinois State University Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter? King is a passionate ISU student in the College of Business as a marketing major with a focus in integrated marketing communication. He hopes to pursue a career in advertising after graduation this spring.
Although he is not a part of the School of Communication, King joined ISU PRSSA last year as an opportunity to learn more about the field of communication. Becoming a member of ISU PRSSA has helped King better understand the relationship between public relations and marketing. It has also allowed him to become an active member of the development committee, as he is interested in gaining fundraising experience.
When asked what advice he would give to younger students looking to break into the professional world, King said that it is important to get involved with something to differentiate yourself from other students. He emphasized his individuality by harnessing his small-town, farm roots from Ohio, Ill., and included an agriculture minor to his studies.
This past summer, King interned at the advertising agency, Woodruff Sweitzer, in Kansas City, Mo., where he was given the opportunity to work with several agriculture companies. He has also interned at DuPont Pioneer, the largest U.S. producer of hybrid seeds for agriculture, where he assisted with a company study testing for wind damage in seed corn crop. These experiences have helped him gain a solid background in both the field of marketing and agriculture.
King believes that it is not only important to get involved but to also take on leadership positions. He is currently the manager for Watterson Dining Commons and says that it has helped him further his professional development.
Despite being an active and involved student here at ISU, King still makes time for the things he enjoys, like playing golf, watching a variety of TV shows, and cooking a variety of grilled chicken dinners. He also loves being physically active, spending time with friends and family, and rooting for the Blackhawks.
When asked if there was anything else to add, King simply said, “Go Redbirds!”
Interview by Kimi Sanden
Maggie Ziemann is a senior at Illinois State University and a public relations junkie that is ready to dive into her future career. Before she began at ISU in 2011, Ziemann already knew about the Public Relations Student Society of America. Ziemann believes joining this organization was one of the greatest decisions she has made during her time at ISU.
Since becoming a member of ISU PRSSA, Ziemann has worn almost every hat offered. As a two-year member of PRogressive Image, Ziemann has had firsthand experience working on a client account. She also held the relations manager (formerly director of relations) leadership position, which taught her how to manage a team, be a communicator between channels, and enhance her writing and editing skills. Ziemann has also been able to attend two PRSSA National Conferences.
On top of her experience in PRSSA, Ziemann has built her professional portfolio with internships. She started as a public relations intern at Allied Health Group, where she created content for a specific demographic as well as learned how to apply certain tactics and strategies to help reach her audience. Her first internship experience was a challenge but one that aided her next position at a startup company called WaterDrop Shop. She helped build the company brand and created awareness while managing social media accounts. During her time at WaterDrop Shop, the business was named, “America’s Coolest College Startup,” and she also coordinated her first event. Ziemann is currently the alumni relations intern at Heartland Community College. She has coded websites, used marketing tools, and been the voice of alumni relations throughout the college’s social media.
Just when you think she has done it all, Ziemann has done more. Ziemann is also an avid blogger and involved in the sorority Delta Zeta. She could not keep her busy life in order if it was not for her calendar and planner- the busier the better for Ziemann. After graduation, she plans to move home to Chicago and find a job or internship at a public relations agency. Her advice for current students is to network with professionals by creating relationships on social media outlets as well as doing outside research on the industry.
By Cindy Kirchner
Kelly Conrad is finishing her first semester of senior year and on her way to earning a degree in public relations with a minor in political science. The Naperville, Ill., native originally attended Illinois State University to study broadcast journalism but switched to public relations last year and joined the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Joining ISU PRSSA provided Conrad the chance to meet fellow public relations students and become more involved.
As an active PRSSA member, Conrad is involved with the Chapter’s student-run firm, PRogressive Image. Last year she developed ideas for upcoming events and created posters for Her Campus, a global online community for college women. This year she is working closely on The Castle Theatre account and has enjoyed interacting with real clients to gain professional public relations experience.
Aside from PRSSA, Conrad has gained professional experience by interning with GSA Public Relations, located in South Korea. As an intern, she produced a social media campaign and conceptualized innovative ways to improve the clients’ overall image to product carriers and consumers. Now she works at Palace Events in Bloomington, Ill., as a wedding coordinator intern.
Conrad is passionate about music and hopes to find a career in the entertainment industry, where she can combine her love for music with public relations. Her favorite place in the world is Chicago, where she has attended Lollapalooza for the last five years. Her dream job is to coordinate the music festival.
Conrad’s advice for new students at ISU is to get involved in multiple organizations. She suggests taking general education courses having no prior knowledge of the subject to explore the different opportunities ISU has to offer. Gaining new experiences is vital to discovering more about yourself and your passions.
Interview by Kimi Sanden
Involved and dedicated senior public relations major, Dana Gleason, is active around the Illinois State University campus, taking part in several organizations during the week while remaining attentive to her studies. When she is not in her public relations classes, you can find Gleason at the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America meetings Tuesday nights or interning for the School of Communication (SoC) and Office of Admissions.
When I asked Gleason why she chose the public relations major, she said, “I was encouraged to take Communication (COM) 178, ‘Introduction to Public Relations.’ After taking the course, I fell in love with public relations.”
“Introduction to Public Relations” did more for Gleason than help her decide her major; it helped her excel within the field through her involvement in PRSSA. Since her freshman year, Gleason has been an active member of the ISU Chapter. She discovered ISU PRSSA through a COM 178 class assignment, the “Get Involved” project. This assignment requires students to attend a registered student organization’s meeting and write about their experience. While attending her first ISU PRSSA meeting, Gleason made a friend within her major. They decided to continue attending PRSSA’s weekly meetings. For Gleason, this project served as the stepping stone to her extensive involvement within ISU PRSSA.
Freshman year Gleason worked with ISU PRSSA’s development committee by assisting in planning events. Gleason is currently involved in ISU PRSSA’s student-run firm, PRogressive Image (PRi), where she manages the Forever Redbirds account. Gleason has also served as the student ambassador for the Alumni Office where she managed social media.
When Gleason is not devoting her time to ISU PRSSA, you can find her working at one of her two internships, both of which are at ISU. Gleason is a SoC promotion and development intern. She handles the SoC’s social media accounts. She is also an intern for the Office of Admissions, where she manages its social media.
Gleason’s advice for freshmen public relations students is to attend several public relations events at ISU, join and become involved within ISU PRSSA, and start your first internship as soon as possible.
“Networking as often and early as you can is important,” said Gleason. She also suggested that public relations students should make relationships with their professors and ask them for advice because they really appreciate it.
Post-college plans for Gleason include moving to a big city and working at a public relations agency. If she cannot work at an agency, she wants to work for a nonprofit organization or sports team.
After speaking with Gleason and learning about all of the hard work and involvement she has done during her years at ISU, I believe that she will achieve great things in her future career. Because of her involvement within PRSSA and multiple internships, Dana Gleason is a role model for all public relations students.
Interview by Ashley Luecke
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.